Fierce

The Oxford Dictionary Is Finally Changing ‘Sexist’ Definitions Of The Word ‘Woman’

Language has a tendency to be sexist.

Fortunately, Oxford University Press knows this and is making efforts to combat sexism and out of date language in its dictionaries. This year, their kicking off by tackling the word “woman.” According to Oxford University Press they’ve updated and changed the entry for “woman” in its dictionaries, including the Oxford English Dictionary, to promote equality and better describe women.

Oxford University Press explained in a recent statement that they’re expanding the dictionary’s coverage of women.

“We have expanded the dictionary coverage of ‘woman’ with more examples and idiomatic phrases which depict women in a positive and active manner,” the largest university press in the world explained in a statement. “We have ensured that offensive synonyms or senses are clearly labeled as such and only included where we have evidence of real-world usage.”

As part of their action, OUP added phrases such as “woman of the moment,” which had been absent from the dictionaries despite having the presence of ones like “man of the moment.”

According to CNN, “one of the definitions of ‘woman’ now refers to a ‘person’s wife, girlfriend, or female lover,’ as opposed to being tied to only a man. The definition for ‘man’ was updated to include gender-neutral terms and references to ‘sexual attractiveness or activity’ were revised for ‘man’ and ‘woman’ entries. OUP said its lexicographers regularly review entries to make sure they are accurate. This time around, the voice of the people helped create change.”

“Sometimes the team focus on topics highlighted by user feedback (such as last year’s petition about the definition of ‘woman’) and sometimes these topics are driven by current events or through projects taking place within the Oxford Languages team,” a spokesperson told CNN.

It’s not the first time OUP has updated its words. Recently, the dictionary for the English language has made changes to words related to race and gender identity. Earlier this year, OUP updated the use of “they” which is used as a pronoun by and for nonbinary people.

In 2019, OUP removed “sexist” terms for a woman after tens of thousands of people signed a Change.org petition.

In response to the petition, suggestive phrases about women were removed including “Ms September will embody the professional, intelligent yet sexy career woman,” according to CNN and phrases such as “I told you to be home when I get home, little woman.”

In a statement their definiitions, OUP wrote “Our dictionaries reflect, rather than dictate, how language is used… This is driven solely by evidence of how real people use English in their daily lives. With that in mind, lexicographers reviewed examples in its dictionary data to make sure representations of woman were positive and active.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Black Women Know Exactly Why Kamala Harris Had To Hold Back In the Debate Last Night

Fierce

Black Women Know Exactly Why Kamala Harris Had To Hold Back In the Debate Last Night

Photo: via Getty Images

Kamala Harris’s debate performance on Wednesday night was admirable on so many fronts. She had done her research and was prepared with talking points and answers. She was calm and measured, a constant smile on her face. She never raised her voice.

In essence, her demeanor was the exact opposite of President Donald Trump’s at the presidential debate the week before. Trump had been veritably unhinged–yelling, ranting, insulting, and constantly interrupting former Vice President Joe Biden.

But Kamala Harris did make headlines for a statement she made, possibly her most assertive statement of the night: “Mr. Vice President,” she said after being talked over by Vice President Pence yet again. “I’m speaking.”

“I’m speaking” swiftly went viral on social media, quickly being meme-ified and retweeted by her supporters.

But not everyone loved that Harris had the dignity to assert herself. When speaking with Fox News about what he thought of the Vice Presidential debate, President Donald Trump called Harris a “monster” and pronounced her as “totally unlikable.” For Black women around the world, the insults Trump lobbed at Harris were seen for the dog whistles that they were.

Harris and every other Black woman in America is deeply familiar with the pervasive racial stereotype of the “Angry Black Woman”. The “Angry Black Woman” is a bitter and emotional woman who has let the circumstances of her life carve out a chip on her shoulder. And the media is quick to peddle this narrative.

Look no farther than the public flaying of Michelle Obama during the early days of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. The negative headlines about Michelle ranged from “Michelle Obama Hates America” to “Just Say No to Mrs. Obama“. And the vitriol aimed at her on social media was especially vile.

The former First Lady spoke candidly about the media’s unfair treatment of her while promoting her memoir “Becoming” at the 2019 Essence Festival.

“People from all sides, Democrats and Republicans, tried to take me out by the knees,” Obama told host, Gayle King. “And the best way they could do it was to focus on the strength of the Black woman, so they turned that into a caricature. For a minute there, I was an angry Black woman who was emasculating her husband.”

But the effects of misogynoir–which is defined as the specific hatred, dislike, distrust, and prejudice directed toward Black women–are not limited to public figures. They are ubiquitous.

Even I, a Black woman who is not at all in the public eye, experience misogynoir constantly.

Recently, I was lamenting to my brother over the fact that I am perpetually single. During our conversation, I was brainstorming possible reasons as to why no man wanted to commit to me. “From my perspective,” my brother (who is also Black) told me, “you’re too loud.” He continued: “It’s intimidating. If I were a guy, that would scare me right off.”

His comments stung.

I called a girlfriend later, my heart hurting, my feelings of undesirability and unfemininity coupled with that all-too-familiar feeling of shame that comes with simply existing as a Black woman on the planet–and especially as a Black woman in white spaces. But I was unable to articulate the uneasiness I felt at his comments. “I can’t help who I am,” I said to her.

“It’s a double standard,” she responded. “Our friend Jocelyn is just as loud as you are–ask anyone. But no one would ever tell her that her loudness is a negative trait, or something that she should change about herself in order to land a man. But Jocelyn is white.”

I felt the burden of my identity like a bag of bricks in that moment. I knew that whatever I used to shield myself from misogynoir–a good job, a college education, fancy clothes and makeup–none of it would ever fully shield me from the racism and sexism I would face for the rest of my life.

Kamala Harris’s debate performance was measured and grounded because she knew she had to package herself to be palatable to white America.

After all, Harris already recently faced some media backlash over what critics called her unfair treatment of (now running mate, then-rival) Joe Biden at the Democratic Primary Debate. Now, it seems, Harris has changed tactics.

Kamala Harris doesn’t have the luxury of being loud or combative or angry–all feelings that would otherwise be completely justified in today’s political climate. Instead, in order to be taken seriously as a Vice Presidential candidate, she must devote a significant amount of her time and energy to being likeable. Trustworthy. Ladylike.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

All Of The Documentaries Feminists Should Watch While In Quarantine

Entertainment

All Of The Documentaries Feminists Should Watch While In Quarantine

Netflix

Just because it might seem as if the world is on pause, it doesn’t mean that our efforts to learn more about it and better ourselves should be.

Documentaries alongside biographies can teach us so much about the world we live in and open our eyes to its complexities, even teaching us about the obstacles we did not know were right in front of us. As women of color, there are so many, and often times we use documentaries to learn about them, so we can better understand how to propel ourselves forward and continue to succeed. To make sure that you do too, we’re rounding up documentaries for you to learn, grow, and build hope from while in quarantine.

Check the documentaries we’re binging now that we’ve got the time below!

Becoming (2020)

Former First Lady Michelle Obama takes an intimate look at her life, relationships, and dreams in this documentary which sees her touring the country while promoting her book Becoming. The New York Times describes the film as showing “a familiar, albeit more carefree, former first lady.”

AKA Jane Roe (2020)

This documentary by Nick McSweeney highlights Norma McCorvey, the woman who made history as “Jane Roe” in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe vs. Wade. Beyond the shock value of the movie’s twist, which unearths the reasons why McCorvey ultimately turned her back on the movement that advocated for her right to choose, it tells a story about the ruthlessness of political agendas.

Abuelas: Grandmothers On A Mission (2013)

Three decades after Argentinean mothers created a movement demanding Argentinean officials to discover what happened with the sons and daughters who “disappeared” during Argentina’s Dirty War, the grandmothers continue their efforts in this documentary.

Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed (2004)

The historical documentary follows Brooklyn Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm during her campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 1972. It will serve as an impressive reminder of this Black woman’s might and the fight she managed to get us all passionate about.

Honeyland (2019)

This Oscar-nominated film is about a beekeeper in North Macedonia. Directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov this documentary shows how the beekeeper’s life is affected when the ancient techniques she uses to farm bees are impacted by a new family who moves into the neighborhood and brings modern technology with them.

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise (2016)

African- American poet Maya Angelou has her life depicted in the documentary that dives into her traumatic childhood and her life as a singer and dancer. The first feature documentary includes interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, and Common.

Knock Down The House (2019)

This documentary featuring Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the league of women who ran for Congress in 2018 including Cori Bush, Paula Jean Swearengin, and Amy Vilela made waves when it first debuted on Netflix. Just as it did for us, we imagine it will give you a whole heck of a lot of hope and pride in the woman who fight for our rights and country.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com