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Different Perceptions of the SexesEssay

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¶ … Generation gaps and attitudes towards sexist/nonsexist language." It was written by Janet Parks and Mary Ann Roberton. This article was included in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology; it was published in 2008. This article explored the effects of a couple of different factors (or variables) on sexist and nonsexist language. The principle means by which the authors were able to ascertain the effects of these variables on this language was by conducting original research in which participants were able to offer their opinions of "inclusive language" (Parks and Roberton, 2008, p. 277) -- meaning terms that were neutral and which did not refer to different people and positions in terms of gender. They accomplished this goal by utilizing a survey instrument known as the Inventory of Attitudes Towards Sexist/Nonsexist Language-General.

One of the most important aspects of this study is that it measured -- and offered comparison -- between different age groups and gender self-esteem, respectively. By far the most salient variable was the former. The authors determined that younger students (those in the typical undergraduate age range from 18-22) had much more of a problem using inclusive language than older survey participants, some of whom were in middle age and in their later years, as well. However, it is worth noting that the study conducted by the authors was partially predicated on a previous study which only involved college students, wherein it was discovered that women with higher gender self-esteem tended to favor inclusive language. Men with higher gender self-esteem tended to not favor such inclusive language. Again, the principle result of this study was the fact that younger students (and younger men, in particular) had more of a problem using inclusive language than the older participants -- which is somewhat counterintuitive.

The next article I examined for this assignment was Linda Brooks' "Sexist language in occupational information: does it make a difference?." This article was published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior in 1983. The crux of this article was the author's attempt to determine what sort of variables most greatly affected literature pertaining to career opportunities. As such, she conducted a study that utilized original, empirical evidence to evaluate three variables. These were sexist language, "subject sex" and the actual occupations themselves, which were specifically selected to be gender neutral (Brooks, 1983, p. 227). The basis of the test was to administer approximately 200 eighth grade students occupational materials that were specially written in one of three ways: towards a female angle, a male angle, and towards a neutral angle. The primary way of distinguishing the bias of each of these three categories was in the incorporation of gender specific pronouns (and the exclusion of such pronouns in the neutral material). After completion of the reading materials, the participants answered questions that asked, among other things, whether or not they were actually interested in the occupations. On the whole, the female students were more interested in the occupations than the male students were (Brooks, 1983, p. 230); additionally, there were "no main effects for either language or occupation" (Brooks, 1983, p. 229). Therefore, one of the conclusions that the author was able to draw from the study was the fact that language (whether sexist or not) is not one of the contributing factors for attracting interest between the two sexes for occupations (based on occupational material. What is significant is that more females had heard of the occupations than boys had (this information was determined by one of the questions that the students had to answer completing their reading). The author posited that this information may have accounted for the greater proclivity of the female students to favor the two gender-neutral occupations than the boys did.

The final article I analyzed for this assignment is "Benevolent sexist beliefs predict perceptions of speakers and recipients of a term of endearment." It was authored by Alyssa Boasso, Sarah Covert and Janet Rusher, it was published in The Journal of Social Psychology in 2012. This article was based on the tenet of "benevolent sexist ideologies" (Boasso et al., 2012, p. 533) that become manifest with an affable term for women. The authors of the article were looking to determine what sort of perceptions participants would have to both men and women referring to women in endearing terms that were based on their gender. The methodology employed involved partitioning a group of female college students into four to accommodate the viewing of a video in which a woman was addressed with a feminine term of endearment. The videos were codified by having either a male or a female asking a woman to do something; they were further stratified by having the person requesting something either utilizing or failing to utilize a term of endearment. Those watching the video were then able to evaluate their perception of both of the people in the video via a scale that focused on the likability of each. The most significant findings indicated that the participants tended to not like women who utilized these terms of endearment, which reflected the notion of benevolent sexism. However, it is worth noting that women tended to like the female recipients of the request who were referenced with a term of endearment. The study focused on the expectations of traditional gender roles, and was able to shed a fair amount of insight into how those roles are perceived by those most likely to be in them (the female college students themselves).

By far, the single most interesting thing I learned about gender differences and language that reflects gender pertains to the first article summarized in this document. I believe that it is wholly fascinating that students that typify this particular gender -- those that are much younger than some of the older participants surveyed -- had more difficulty utilizing gender inclusive language than others. Moreover, I do not wholly believe that this finding from this research study is particularly encouraging. It seems to indicate to me that people who typify the current generation and who have matured in it have difficult thinking for themselves and tend to simply believe the media hype and the things which they are readily taught by others, which evidently includes stereotypical language pertaining to the different genders. The truth of the matter is that once the 2000s came about and the country engaged in its most recent war (the War on Terror) the propaganda and the media dissemination of information became perfected. It largely appears to me that the survey results from this study imply that younger people, and younger men in particular, are much more greatly influenced by the viewpoints reinforced in movies, television, the internet, etc. than people of other generations. Previous generations always had some form of a counterculture or another; the current generation is the first to not have such an alternative. Therefore, everyone is mainstream and the subtleties of the sexist rhetoric widely endorsed for mainstream consumption are merely devoured by young people today -- who cannot discern those subtleties and understand their implications.

By the same token, I found the findings of the second article summarized nothing short of encouraging. Specifically, the fact that girls tended to favor both of the gender neutral occupations is suggestive of the fact that there can be some parity between the sexes regardless of sexist language. This fact was largely determined by a rigorous process in which the authors specifically selected occupations that were not slanted towards either males or females. The fact that I viewed as positive pertaining to these findings is that in some instance, even language that is viewed as sexist does not have a negative impact on girls. In this instance, language that is directed more towards males, for example, does not discourage women. Hopefully, these findings reflect a degree of empowerment associated with women that implies that even though sexist language may persist, it will not negatively impact young women. Additionally, such a notion makes me wonder if other than language itself, there is a greater emphasis on non-verbal communication and non-verbal cues that plays a greater role in reinforcing stereotypes associated with gender. Perhaps such stereotypes are not reinforced so much as by what is said, but rather how such things are said to young women.

Lastly, I was greatly intrigued by the article that focused on the sexist nature of terms of endearment and the perception of both that nature and those terms. It has long seemed to me that such terms can appear as considerably patronizing, particularly in professional settings. It largely seems as though the results would support this viewpoint. However, it was notable that the females who watched the videos in this study seemed to more resent the such terms coming from other women than from other men. Perhaps this fact indicates that they are merely used to receiving such treatment from men.


Boasso, A., Covert, S., Ruscher, J.B. (2012). Benevolent sexist beliefs predict perceptions of speakers and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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