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Language and Gender Week the seventh

Language and Gender Week the seventh. Questions? Tyler Schnoebelen tylers at stanford dot edu. Categorizing.

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Language and Gender Week the seventh

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  1. Language and GenderWeek the seventh Questions? Tyler Schnoebelen tylers at stanford dot edu

  2. Categorizing • These ambiguities, redundancies, and deficiencies recall those attributed by Dr. Franz Kuhn to a certain Chinese encyclopedia called the Heavenly Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge. In its distant pages it is written that animals are divided into

  3. Types of animals • (a) those that belong to the emperor; • (b) embalmed ones; • (c) those that are trained; • (d) suckling pigs; • (e) mermaids; • (f) fabulous ones; • (g) stray dogs; • (h) those that are included in this classification; • (i) those that tremble as if they were mad; • (j) innumerable ones; • (k) those drawn with a very fine camel's-hair brush; • (l) etcetera; • (m) those that have just broken the flower vase; • (n) those that at a distance resemble flies.

  4. Zebras may not exist

  5. There is no such thing as a fish

  6. Classical categories • “Categories on the traditional view are characterized solely by the properties shared by their members” (Lakoff 1987: xi) • If this is the definition, then there can’t be exemplars that are better examples (ostrich=robin=penguin=swallow=goose) • Members of categories should be independent of those doing the categorizing

  7. More on categories • Family resemblances: Chess and go both involve strategy and competition; chess and poker involve competition; poker and old maid are both card games • Centrality: Some members are better examples than others (birth mothers vs. adoptive mothers vs. working mothers?) • Paragons: Babe Ruth and Cadillacs aren’t average in their categories, but they are exemplars

  8. What is the category of “feminist”? • The paragon? • The average? • The prototype? • The essential parts?

  9. Feminists to Feminazis • Let’s turn to Wikipedia: • “Feminism is the idea that women should have political, social, sexual, intellectual, and economic rights equal to those of men.” • Legal rights • Abortion rights • Reproductive rights (access to contraception, prenatal care) • Against domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape • Workplace rights

  10. Concepts, categories • Grounded in discourse • “First, make a distinction” (design) • M.E.C.E.

  11. Everyone categorizes • It’s how we explore patterns we notice

  12. Patrolling boundaries • Who you asks matters • Eggplant to a botanist vs. a cook • But some folks have more authority than others • And there are lots of forces enforcing the sanctity of social categories

  13. Erasure • More on male defaults (think of the Gaskil) • Marked categories • “Belonging to the marked category is generally far more consequential for a person’s life opportunities and sense of self than belonging to the often erased default category” (E&Mc-G 2003: 250).

  14. The unerased • DIFFERENCE IS SEXUAL DIFFERENCE • (Helen Haste isn’t yelling. All caps is the way metaphors are typically denoted in the literature.)

  15. Gender neutralization • Examples: • StewardessFlight attendant • HeThey • PolicemanPolice officer • ChairmanChairperson • Le professeurLaproffeseure • But there are no linguistic quick fixes • Change isn’t always smooth • You can’t control words once you put them out in the world (e.g., politically correct)

  16. Action through (and beyond) words • “Changing schemes for categorization and changing labels are part of changing social practice” (E&Mc-G 2003: 265).

  17. Appendix

  18. Think of furniture • That isn’t a chair • Isn’t a table • Isn’t a bed, etc • Just is an abstract piece of furniture

  19. Dirty tricks • Ehrlich and King (1992) show how people resist feminist definitions: • Obliteration: “Let’s talk about the difference between true/real rape and date rape” • Narrowing: Family only includes nuclear families, others are deviant • Expansion • Obscuring/omitting

  20. Notes on Bohner (2001)

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