The Matthews Society celebrated International Women’s Day today by watching a live panel event about sexist language in the dictionary, hosted by Oxford Languages. The speakers discussed the history of sexist terms, the proliferation of derogatory terms used to describe women and the myths surrounding women as language users, such as the claim that women talk more in meetings although the reverse is statistically the case.
The panel also reflected on how words can be reclaimed by the communities they are aimed at, as evidenced in the women’s marches during Donald Trump’s presidency in the US. They concluded by looking at how language is most effective when it is inclusive and on the role we all have to play in bringing an end to common usage of sexist and racist language.
Megan Fairley, Head of Religion and Philosophy, said, “The discussion was a fascinating insight into the role of the lexicographer, the way language evolves and how dictionaries both report on and lead the language that we use.”
Oakham will continue to mark International Women’s Day throughout the week, with creative challenges in the Lower School Houses and thought-provoking tutorials in the Middle and Upper School.