Casablanca - Most research probing the reciprocal relationship between language and gender corroborates the claim that men and women use language dissimilarly.
Casablanca – Most research probing the reciprocal relationship between language and gender corroborates the claim that men and women use language dissimilarly.
The prominent scholarship of feminist researchers is agreeably one that has prominently marked this area of inquiry. Examining, deconstructing and disrupting sexist discourse generated on women via a plethora of discursive means have been the cardinal concerns of their research.
One of the superficial stereotypes recurrent in sexist discourse is that women are excessively talkative compared to men. This premise is deemed a stereotype for it is not based on any empirical, well-researched and well-analyzed scientific data. The relation between gender and the quantity of talk is amply relative, and is conditioned by a plurality of social perimeters that are usually culture-specific.
Gossiping is one of the linguistic and social practices that are stereotypically associated to women, which stems from the stereotypical view that women talk more than men do. This superficial association stems from a lack of understanding and knowledge of the communicational topicalities of each gender independently. It is clear that the view that ‘women are gossipers’, was initially generated from a phallocentric lens. It is the incessant tendency to start from men’s linguistic and communicational particularities as the ‘default’ or ‘standard’ mode of interaction that induces to such hasty generalizations about gendered speech.
Research in the area of gender and language has substantially counteracted the view that women are gossipers par excellence, and has revealed, on the other hand, that men are remarkable gossipers. According to most of these studies, women are traditionally deemed gossipers in patriarchal societies. The fact that women in these societies tend not to interact publically, or as openly and freely as men, renders any unusual case, in which women are seen doing what ‘is restricted to men’, an abnormality.
Seeing women speaking in a patriarchal society runs against the social and linguistic norms set by those societies. Thus, when women speak publically with other women, they are described, from a masculine vantage point, as speaking more than usual. It is clearly from this dominance-based premise that the practice of ‘gossiping’ stems.
For a woman not to be judged hastily on men-based standards, she is compelled by society to adopt men’s communicational style and linguistic particularities. Such a conformist recommendation does not really allow women ‘to speak their mind out properly’. It rather alters women’s specific communicational concerns and motives for the sake of compliance. The line between this reality and social subjugation becomes really meager, and sad prospects for a more acute subservience at others levels becomes more expectable.
Before the surge of ‘gender’ as a monolithic terms accentuating social difference, societies were engrossed in acute patriarchy. With the upsurge of feminist scholarship, the probing of assigned gender roles in society, from the vantage point of women this time, unfolded striking asymmetry of power and dominance in favor of men. The fact that spotlights of criticism and stigmatization had been tracking any ‘abnormal’ female nonconformity to the patriarchal social norms, men were granted further power and dominance and stripped women of their voices.
Gossiping is a term almost inexistent, unless when applied to men. ‘Talking’, ‘interacting’ and ‘chatting’ are women’s natural communicational practices that are dusted and blurred by the term ‘gossip’. Research shows that men’s favorite topics are conflict-based topics, such as sports, video games, competitions, and so on. When two men are conversing on such issues the quantity of talk, the pace and tone of voice, and many other conversational behaviors, show that men speak more in quantity, and more abrasively than women do.
There is an urgent need for us to put aside our social identities when dealing with a phenomenon, a practice or a behavior that pertains to the field of humanities. Impartiality is quite challenging in this context, surely, for humans are both the observers and the subject of study. Yet, cognizance of the multitudinous variables and ramifications that underlie our social life in many domains is necessary and indispensable to avoid misunderstanding, conflict, and, more specifically in the context of gender and language, the stigmatized hasty generalizations we tend to formulate on the different ‘other’.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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