Monday, May 23, 2011

Philosophical language and the gender norm

The surprising encounter with the accusation that someone who fails to articulate disagreement is a 'wuss' has heightened my sense of gender normativity in language over the last few days. (This is public radio, not Howard Stern!) I'm happy to see that I'm not the only one who sees gender bullying played through language games.

Reading essays in Paul Horwich's Truth, Meaning, Reality (2010), he writes in "A World without Isms":
Of course it was wishful thinking for me to have suggested in my title that this could spell the end of all 'isms'. For there was bound to be one for the very point of view that I'm recommending. "A bloodless quietism" is how Crispin Wright has labeled it—"the bland perspective of a variety of assertoric 'language games', each governed by its own internal standards of acceptability, each sustaining a metaphysically emasculated notion of truth, each unqualified for anything of more interest or importance." Well, Crispin, sorry for being so anemic, boring, and effeminate...
This move allows the unconscious (and unthinking) sexism to be its own insult.

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