The New York Times has an article, They’re, Like, Way Ahead of the Linguistic Currrrve, about how new studies have found that girls and women direct language for the rest of the population.
The article is slightly condescending in tone, in that, well just look at the title yourself. Then look at this little cartoon. They cite Valley Girls and the Kardashians as the evidence of girls’ influence on language. The rest of the article is about how girls are using language to create bonding relationships and to convey emotion. You know, girl stuff, acting cute and being cute. Even though it makes them appear stupid and not to be taken seriously.
I’d like to point at that just because researchers just started studying female influence on language does not make it a “new” phenomenon. Nor is it limited to trendy teenage girls with reality shows. Have you read a Mommy Blog or Friended a woman or two on Facebook? Women are inventing new words, new syntax, new inflections and sounds, adding new meaning to existing words every second of the day.
Nor do women use language simply to create bonds and convey their feelings. They use language to get what they want. They use language to make political points. They use language to draw boundaries — in the home, in the workplace, in politics. In every arena in which they participate and women and girls participate in every arena.
You should meet my friend Jenny. She appears to have invented a new word or phrase that conveys complex meaning for things that, as yet, have no known definition every time I talk to her. Just yesterday I learned the word Suck-tastic when a woman described the month of February on my Facebook page. I intend to use it frequently now.
Women have superpowers when it comes to listening to language. From the moment their babies are born they can distinguish their cries for hunger, tired and overstimulated; they can tell their baby’s cry from another, they can hear complex levels of emotion in their children; they can hear a lie.
From the earliest of ages girls can distinguish between a truth and a lie. Young girls will tattle on other girls for saying something cruel and hurtful like “I love your hair” or “that dress is so pretty.”
In other words, this condescending theory is craptastic and straight from Crazytown.
Words are the most powerful thing in the entire Universe. In fact, we know from the Bible and many other faith and folklore traditions, that whole entire Universe was created with “The Word.” The pen IS more powerful than the sword. While men point out statistical evidence for this or that legislation, women bring the power to it by evoking emotion and personalizing the political by means of Story. I promise you that Story is one of the most powerful means of changing people’s understanding and changing their minds. Statistics evoke nothing in us, they don’t touch our humanity and they don’t invoke change. But if someone perceives the Story behind the statistics — that a child is going hungry, that people are left suffering for lack of healthcare, that women die from breast cancer leaving their beloved children without a mother, that gay teenagers are in such pain for lack of acceptance that they often consider suicide — only then do they consider changing their original beliefs and taking action. Story is feminine domain.
Women make language their Bitch, bitch is the new black (Tina Fey). We direct the entire culture with it. We add layers of meaning where there is none. When called for, we can reduce the strongest biggest man to a cowering wuss, using language as a vicious sword to emasculate him. We seduce with language. We reframe perceptions with language. We expose truths with language. We create definitions and invent new concepts with language. Words are our playground. Language is feminine domain. We conquer entire nations with it. There’s no stopping a girl or woman with something to say.