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Critical Analysis Essay: In Defense of Gender

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Critical Analysis Essay: In Defense of Gender

Dayna Lee


Author Note

        This paper is being submitted on June 5, 2016, for Katrina Dunbar Jones’s ENG-122 English Composition 1 course.

Critical Analysis Essay: In Defense of Gender

The fight for gender equality is noble yet almost always controversial and challenging. While women often stand at the front lines of this battle; men are often cast into the shadows and overlooked as a major and very necessary component in correcting gender inequalities. It is men who must relinquish some of this arbitrarily given power for issues of gender to cease to exist. One way we as a society can aid in this is by helping correct the masculine overtones in our language that we have passed on through the years. The article "In Defense of Gender" by Crya McFadden brings forth the discussion of "neutering" the written and spoken language, the article questions that this task is not worth the efforts to make such extreme and profound changes. It is the claim that rewriting and retaining the way we address gender in writing and speaking, we can learn to remove the masculine overtones from our language. Part of this responsibility falls on the way we have accepted this as a society; to change it, we as a society must adapt to the "neutering" and that is enforced or reinforcement rather, of masculinity. This male dominant language has become so embedded in the daily lives of each person, man, and woman that is simply too daunting a task to take on, right or wrong.

McFadden stated, "The neutering of spoken and written English, with its attendant self-consciousness, remains ludicrous"(A.9) her resentment on the efforts to modify the way we are talking is made clear with sharp words, tone, and mockery. Mocking the minor changes, stating that "Spoken, they leave conversation fit only for the Coneheads on "Saturday Night Live." "They have a daily special," a woman at the next table told her male companion in Perry's, a San Francisco restaurant. "Ask your waitperson."(A.9) In a Steig cartoon, the words would have marched from her mouth in the form of a computer printout."(A.9) McFadden is mocking the way we as a society are making efforts to change to a "persons" rather than the male dominate gendered title of "waiter". McFadden states that in flooding our language with "persons" prefixes and suffixes we are ridding it of people in general. Even though I do not agree with the tone that is used to support the claim, the mockery does bring the allegation to light and adds a bit of sarcastic humor and dry wit. When McFadden uses the Coneheads from Saturday Night Live as the example of what we as a society may sound like speaking in a gender-free language; it likely creates an audible memory for many readers, myself included, and we can hear this statement, gender-free, and hear how it sounds.

McFadden speaks of the stripping of masculinity from the English language as taking something away that inherently belongs there. McFadden talks about the first time that she had heard text read out aloud with a whole gender-neutral tone. McFadden states "The hapless program female chairperson stuck with the job chose to render these orally as "he-slash-she" and "his-slash-her" turning the following day's schedule for conference participants into what sounded like a replay of the Manson killings."(A.9) Further supporting McFadden’s claim that "The neutering of spoken and written English, with its attendant self-consciousness, remains ludicrous." The usage of ambivalent gender pronouns such as "her/she", McFadden claims, are more distracting than helpful, jumping off the page like "...a cloud of gnats, demanding that the reader note the writer's virtue"(A.9).



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