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A Feminist Dictionary

Chapter 35
Speaking Out in Public: A Feminist Dictionary (Page 461-462)
This entire chapter was like a novel; I could not put it down. It shocked me, but at the same time I was not shocked at all. I think what made my jaw drop was that I was reading things that struck a cord with me. I know in my gut that there are muted groups and as a woman, I am a part of one. The feminist dictionary was made by feminist theorist in order to challenge the, “the man-made linguistic system that keeps women ‘in their place,’(461). I love how the dictionary uses language to place women in the center, rather than the outskirts or margins, of society. All of the examples provided in figure 35-1 (462), resonated with me on some level, but silence stood out in my mind. It is defined as, “Silence; is not golden. ‘There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.’ ‘In a world where language and naming are power, silence is oppressive, is violence” (as cited in Griffin, 462). The sarcastic tones make these definitions humorous, without taking away from their seriousness. I had not even thought about the term family man, as a way to gender pigeonhole or a way to “keep women in their place.” A woman’s concern with her appearance is defined as a, “reaction to necessity”(462) rather than a product of encoding. Yikes! Did any of these definitions strike a chord with you? Being a woman myself, they all pretty much hit the nail on the head. I would like to hear a male’s perspective or take on these definitions. Any takers?


  1. Your blog entry literally mirrored my feelings about this chapter. Like you, I could not put it down, what a page turner. I also loved the interview and the dictionary. You quoted several statements from the textbook, all of which I agree with. So no argument there from me (I am male). I highlighted in red: “There is no label for family woman.” This is so soberingly true. I also agree with the silence and appearance definitions. So my perspective on these is similar to yours: Yikes!

    In the interview, Griffen asked Kramarae if a man can be a feminist; her answer was a yes. I consider myself a feminist in an androcentric world.

    On the issue of appearance, it is an example of oppression. My shoes are comfortable and practical. High-heel shoes are designed by men for women; to me, they appear painful to wear. Most of these uncomfortable women’s clothes are designed by men. Fashion is communication. Most fashion designers are men. Again men structure the values and the language to go with it.

    Here are the Dow Jones Industrial Average companies: 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing), Alcoa (Aluminum Company of America), American Express, AT&T (SBC Communications), Bank of America, Boeing (name of a male founder), Caterpillar, Chevron, Citigroup, Coca-Cola, DuPont, ExxonMobil, General Electric, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard (the two male founders), Home Depot, Intel, IBM, Johnson & Johnson (the two male founders), JPMorgan (after the male founder), Kraft Foods (after the male founder), McDonald's (ditto), Merck, Microsoft, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble (ditto), United Technologies, Verizon, Walmart (after Sam Walton), Walt Disney (after founder).

    I believe this list says it all.

    What Kramarae says is not only true but, sadly, massively pervasive.

  2. The Feminist Dictionary definitely resonated with me. The term family man really stuck out at me. Kramarae is right, we don't hear family woman because woman and family are practically inseperable. Society feels that if you are a woman and you aren't all about your family then something is wrong with you. But a man, he can run off and be free and we don't think twice about it. The definition for appearance was also striking. When you think about it, women care about how they look out of necessity. Society makes us care; they throw it in our face everyday through the use of magazines and television. This chapter was really eye-opening!