S. Constitution and Bible. Yet, language is a two-edged sword when it comes to being a tool. It can oppress or render a gender voiceless, but it can also empower and lend a voice to a gender. For example, many women feel more “included” and empowered by the fact that many Bibles have changed their use of language. As Deirdre Dempsey, a Marquette University professor, notes about the recent change to gender-neutral wording in Today’s New International Version Bible, “The change to gender-neutral wording addresses the assumption that people see the word ‘men’ in the text of the Bible and don’t feel included in a place where the intention in Greek was to be inclusive” (Petersen 1).
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