Oxford Dictionary Changed The Definition Of “Woman” To Be More Gender-Neutral And Less Sexist. We Are All For This!
The world will have you believe that a woman is nothing more than a mother, a wife and a cook. But that’s not true, is it? Then why do people insist on putting us in boxes with big red labels on them? And that’s not all. For centuries, women have been described using the most sexist and derogatory terms. From “bitch” to “maid” to “sugar” to “the old ball and chain”, even the Oxford Dictionary made women out to be less than when compared to men. And we are not having this anymore. However, today is a good day. After a lot of criticism, the Oxford University Press has changed the definition of the word ‘woman’. This is progress!
Earlier, the Oxford Dictionary described women using a whole bunch of objectifying and sexist terms. Even the sentences, examples and synonyms that were listed for ‘woman’ were medieval and riddled with stereotypes. For instance, the sentence, “Come on, woman, please stop arguing.” was in the dictionary. This plays into the stereotype that women are hyper and constantly nagging. Do you see why it was so crucial that the Oxford University Press modify the definition in the dictionary? I mean, it is the language bible for the English-speaking population of the world. Every school, every college in the world teaches the language using the Oxford Dictionary as their prime reference point. Changing the way the dictionary describes women was essential. And now that they have, it’s really something to acknowledge and celebrate.
The updated version of the dictionary now acknowledges that a woman can be a person’s wife, girlfriend, or female lover, rather than being all these things only to a man. Even the definition of “man” has been altered to include more gender-neutral terms. A lot of labels put on women that were used as descriptive words in the Oxford dictionary have now been categorized as derogatory, offensive or dated. Furthermore, the terms “bitch” and “bint” are no longer listed as synonyms for the term woman.
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) November 9, 2020
According to an Oxford University Press spokeswoman, these changes were made after an “extensive review of entries related to woman and many other related terms.”
All this came after the leaders of the Women’s Aid and the Women’s Equality Party sent an open letter to the Oxford University Press a few months ago. The letter states that the definition of the word woman includes synonyms like “bitch,” “maid,” “chick,” and “damsel”. It states, “Bitch is not a synonym for woman. It is dehumanising to call a woman a bitch. It is but one sad, albeit extremely damaging, an example of everyday sexism. And that should be explained clearly in the dictionary entry used to describe us.” They further added , “Synonyms and examples such as these, when offered without context, reinforce negative stereotypes about women and men. That’s dangerous because the language has real-world implications, it shapes perceptions and influences the way women are treated.”
The campaign was started last year by Maria Beatrice Giovanardi. Her petition to amend the definition of the term woman in the Oxford Dictionary has reached 30,000 signatures. Reportedly, Maria was “very happy” with the changes and felt the campaign had achieved 90% of its aims. She called the inclusion of gender-neutral terminology “a huge step forward for the LGBTQI people.”
Also Read: Oxford Dictionary Includes Interesting Words Like Chutzpadik And Manspreading To Its List. We Can’t Wait To Use Them!
— IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) November 8, 2020
The Oxford Dictionary mending the definition of the term woman to be not only more gender-neutral and inclusive but also not sexist is a step forward. Of course, a lot of people would argue that changing the definition on paper will not really solve problems that women face every day. But hey, at least it might change people’s perspectives. We have to start somewhere, right?
It’s not about keeping up with the times or being politically correct. It’s about not being disrespectful towards women. A simple concept people around the world still struggle with. If you learn as a child that the synonyms of “woman” are “bitch” and “maid,” because that’s what the Oxford Dictionary says, it’s bound to have some long-lasting impact on your thinking. Your entire perspective towards women is automatically skewed and that is not okay.
So even though this might not seem like something that will solve all the problems women are facing, it’s still a huge deal. It’s a much-needed step in the right direction.