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“Gizonezkoen Menderakuntzaren eta Sexismoaren Eragina Hizkuntzan”

“Influencia de la dominación masculina y el sexismo en el lenguaje” 

You can read the Basque and the Spanish versions of this article at the links above.

The Influence of Male Domination and Sexism on Language

For a long time in RC we have thought and discharged about how the oppressive system we live in has influenced different aspects of our daily lives. So far we have not found any signs that the distresses human beings carry are inherent to them or intrinsic to the nature of the human species. And we have been able to substantiate, again and again, that we can discharge any distress and rid our minds of it.

Likewise, no language contains distresses that are inherent to it. Inherently, languages are—as I have been able to confirm in many places—products of human intelligence, and in human intelligence there are no defects.

(Male domination has, of course, left its traces in languages just as it has in many other areas. It has left huge footprints in the mind that is writing this article. Therefore, this paper will have to be revised again and again, as we keep discharging and clarifying.)

Once we accumulate some experience in RC, it becomes easy to distinguish between the distresses and the inherent goodness of humans. Experienced Co-Counselors would never identify a human being with her or his accumulated distress. The same goes [is true] for languages. Once we have discharged and re-evaluated about them, we can easily differentiate the languages from the distresses that have been imposed on them.

TRACES OF THE DOMINANT OPPRESSIVE CULTURE

Traces of the dominant, oppressive culture are still stuck in our languages from the times when that culture was imposed (during invasions, wars, slavery, persecution, holocausts, genocides, ethnocides, “language-ocides,” and oppressive situations of all kinds). For example, words for colors are used to promote racism, and words for parts of the human body are used to insult people; cruel definitions of humans are used to label people who do not conform to the oppressive system. It has taken time, discharge, and thought to realize that these marks on our languages are not inherently part of our original languages but are something imposed.

Male domination is one of the oppressions that has influenced languages (some more than others). Here are a couple of ways it has influenced them:

1) Male domination has made invisible much of what relates to the female world. If it had not been in force so insistently and for so long, today we would find in our languages many more linguistic structures, expressions, terms, and styles that fully express the existence and experiences of women in our universe. Androcentricity (the fixation on noticing the masculine and making everything revolve around it) has a big presence in everything—including speakers of languages—and has made almost impossible the transmission of the female universe to the next generation. When that transmission has taken place, male domination has substituted the masculine point of view and masculine nomenclature for it.

2) Male domination has inserted into languages many words, phrases, styles, and definitions that insult and undervalue females and treat them as despised. For example, in some languages one way to say that a person is harmful is to use a word for women’s genitals.

When we speak our languages we can reproduce these kinds of things, or we can avoid them or replace them with linguistic forms that are more intelligent and logical. It is our responsibility to notice the oppressive, distressed structures in our languages; decide not to use them; and create non-oppressive structures, such as names for the female side of things that people usually only use male terms for.

REMINDERS OF A PRE-PATRIARCHAL PAST

My language, Euskara, has existed for forty thousand years. Thus it includes some terms from before the patriarchal system. Here are a few examples:

Mari, the name of our main goddess, could not be buried or made invisible by many bellicose patriarchal invasions and conquests. Mari is an all-powerful female energy that creates, maintains, and determines all the phenomena of life and the solar system. She has great significance in our indigenous culture and reminds us of our pre-patriarchal past.

Sorgin means “witch” (the one who creates) and refers to an intelligent, powerful woman who carries the wisdom and knowledge of Amalurra (Mother Earth) from generation to generation. The sorgin afaria or “witch’s dinner” is a meeting before bed on a certain day of the week (usually Friday) in a place sacred to the Basque native people—in a grotto, under a big tree, in a cave, in a corner of a meadow, on the bank of river—in which proposals and decisions are made, goals are set, and community projects and rituals are carried out. In some of our homes, elderly people still hold the sorgin gosaria or “witch’s breakfast,” two or three hours before dawn. They say it helps them undertake the approaching day with lucidity and strength.

These terms, among others, are ones that male domination could not suppress. They still speak to us of the importance and power of women in the organization and decision-making of human groups.

Some centuries ago patriarchy throughout Europe lashed out and systematically persecuted many wise and powerful women. The women were tortured and murdered in the fires of the Inquisition for their circular and horizontal social organization that went directly against the vertical and hierarchical patriarchal domination. Our older native people use the phrase mingain zuria erabiltzea (“use the white tongue”) for “tell lies.” It reflects the unreliable word of white people as opposed to the reliable word of our non-white (native) people.

COMMUNICATION THAT REFLECTS OUR INTELLIGENCE

The sexism in languages is nothing but the refusal, transferred to language, to respectfully and fully include women (and everything related to them) in daily activities. Along with a lack of linguistic precision, it includes the lack of a reflection of the female world and cosmogony [theory of the origin of the universe] and the lack of a vocabulary for women’s liberation (which has had to be devised and promoted by the feminist movement itself).

In our languages we have non-dominant ways to communicate all these things, in a clear and logical manner. The more we discharge, investigate, and think, I am sure we’ll be able to incorporate these ways into everyday life, and even create new ways. Together we will make sure that the world of females has complete dignity and respect in our languages and is fully present in all its immensity and power.

This attractive and re-emergent work belongs to us all. We will replace linguistic expressions based on distress with expressions based on logic. In this way, transparent, brilliant communication will reflect our intelligence—everywhere and at all times.

Thanks for reading. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Patxi Xabier Odriozola Ezeitza

International Commonality Reference Person for Languages and Interpreting

(Basque Country)

Translated from Spanish to English by Terry Fletcher

(Present Time 189, October 2017)


Last modified: 2017-10-17 02:50:41+00