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Language Oppression

The workplace is also an environment in which language is used as a powerful tool to either empower or oppress. For years women have complained of gender-discrimination in the workplace which constructs a glass ceiling in an organization above which they cannot rise. Language is a tool which helps keep women from advancing because it robs them of voice and the full expression of their identity. The work environment is often a male domain reinforced by tools like language. An aggressive, powerful woman is often seen as a “bitch”, while the same kind of male is viewed with respect, admiration, and known as “ambitious”. Yet, changes in language can empower groups oppressed by its usage. Very often groups whose goal it is to fight for gender equality help bring about such linguistic changes, removing some barriers women face in gaining an equal voice and right to express their identity. Still, such changes in language must evolve and do not occur overnight, with their impact often being less or different than anticipated. As Richard Maxwell (719) notes, “Feminists have attempted certain linguistic reforms; for instance they recommend replacing formations like ‘spokesman’ with new coinages such as ‘spokesperson.’ But individuals do not change language at a stroke. Spokesperson, ironically, is now marked as familiar rather than as gender-neutral.”

The political environment is another in which language is used quite regularly to oppress or empower. Recently the Republican Party has created a “Winning Women” campaign aimed at gaining support from female voters. This campaign is laced with language that is designed to appeal to women, because it is designed to make them believe that they will be more “empowered” via the GOP than the Democratic Party. However, many women are aware of attempts to win them over with rhetoric and language. The “Winning Women” campaigned has been deemed a failure, mainly because it has relied on lang...

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Language Oppression. (2000, January 01). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 05:04, October 31, 2014, from http://www.collegetermpapers.com/viewpaper/1303941837.html
 
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