The discovery of this new word, vine (videos), has made me think of how prejudiced we are when we select the words we’ll be using. We’ve got no problem adopting a really alien word as CD, or wasapp, or wifi, but hey, “jueza” (judge, in the femenine) took 30 years. It sounded wrong. Of course. So wrong to name women! We had never heard it! We had never had female judges, it seems…
Listen every day to a new word, start using and tell me: how long does it take you to get used to it? How long did “the internet” sound “weird” to you? And “jefa”? What about “feminista”? Does it still make you feel suspicious and wary? (I know well — it took me time to overcome this prejudice.) Why should we name women when women come from Adam’s rib? The language for Him is enough to name both.
Vine has spread worldwide in two months in 2013, in spite of meaning “6-second video created with the Vine app”. However, it’s taken us 30 years of despise, mockery, marginalization and demonization of “feminists” to have femenine names in jobs, jobs women did not have access to before.
Jobs were in the masculine not because the masculine was gender-neutral, but because only men were allowed to have those posts. The French revolution gave us the Declaration of Men’s Rights, and it was men’s rights. Women asking for rights for them too were guilliotined. And it’s really bitter: the French revolution triggered off when women took the streets claiming for breads for their loved ones.
We people are not aware — unless we work on that — of how deeply patriarchal values affect our perception, thoughts and feelings. When I realized I started reading feminist analyses. I tried to learn. We seem to believe that we are free thinkers, but culture weighs heavily upon our prejudices. I’m still learning. Every single day. I have made good progress, but…
Why do we accept, use, thrive in the use of certain new words and reject the ones related to respecting people? It’s like with laws: we respect any kind of law related to market or power or status (say, property, security of the kind achieved through carrying weapons), but when it comes to respecting people’s protection, we think it’s ridiculous, excessive, hysterical — just like feminists! 😀 “Why don’t you publish our names on the Internet. It’s kind of stupid not to. An inconvenience.” A certain School: “Schools can’t publish people’s names on the internet because there exists the Law for the Protection of Private/Personal Information”. “But all schools do it.” “So you mean we have to do it?” So you mean we should break that law? And what about breaking the property law? What if we understand poor people are hungry and stop putting them in prison for 30 years for stealing food? Are you a law-abiding person? Why would you then think it’s OK not to respect this law? Respecting people’s protection is all wrong! As wrong as naming certain human beings!! Let’s keep them where they have always been in patriarchal language. Nowhere.
Women have the right to be named, because it is a human right. I relates to their dignity, to existence and respect from others. We’re not about humiliating anyone, nor imposing anything on anyone, we’re asking people to name us in the femenine because that’s the gender we have in our society. We’re giving reasons, giving examples of how we can create some language justice, and solve this terrible problem. We’re working with language not with weapons, we use tools to change the world.
Using a juster language is about existing and relating, about living together. We have made a lot of progress in the last decades. Now we don’t tell the very cruel “jokes” that were told when I was little. Humor is still cruel, and still makes us laugh, because we’re cultural beings. But we are less cruel with the most vulnerable. And in jokes, in my view, that’s a fact. Even jokes about women are today less frequently mysogynist. There are numerous sexist jokes, but less mysogynist jokes. Going back to inclusive language, a common argument is that is it boring, heavy, clumsy to mention the feminine each time you mention the masculine. From my viewpoint, this is cruel. And especially considering all the words we waste away! All the things we repeat non-stop. Just listen to us people. The reason is not economy but an feminist intelligence that needs some watering. It will bloom if taken care of.
I’ve been using inclusive language since 1980. I began with a few words. Nowadays, I’ve made such great progress. I can write away and never use a language that excludes women’s existence. I rarely use the at symbol (for o/a, masculine/femenine) or the x symbol (for gender-free endings). I sometimes use the masculine –os, and never use the singular –o as a (fake) neutral gender mark. My texts can be read and voiced. There are many ways, and different degrees. There are zillions of proposals by feminists, and very many examples in everyday life. The most important proposal is that People do what they can, not what they can’t — but to try, to put a limit to their prejudice. Then the learning will be natural. It’s all a process. We can all do it, we can all get used to new words, new ways of speaking, we’re always doing it, but we just notice it when it comes to People.
This year I’m working on using “miembra” (member, in the femenine). I’ve just been using it for a few months, and it has already begun to sound OK to me. But till last year it sounded all wrong to me. But I knew better: I suspected it was for no good reason because there the fact is that there is nothing more natural in Spanish that using the -a suffix for the femenine.
Men in patriarchy have killed for names. We are not killing anyone. We are just asking for a minimum respect: If you want to relate to me, name me.
As a critical thinker, I’m still surprised at how deeply we learn to reject the most beautiful humane /hiumein/ ideas, and accept as inevitable the least beautiful, the unfair, the cruel, and the least ethical people.
What feminism has taught me is to be self-critical. To keep a good idea on my ideas, on the ways I relate to people. I know the culture I reject is in my inside, part of me. But I am a rebel. I have ambitions. I reach for the moon! 🙂 😉 ❤
Any social movement has something very valuable to offer: to make us think on how we can actually change the world for the better, to start with own Selves.