This time of year makes me think of gifts and what women are giving to the next generation.
This year, 2017, has been an extremely tumultuous time. To use a kitchen and baking metaphor our cultural batter is being is being whipped up, over-beaten, into a flat mess that may have a difficult time rising to the occasion.
I like to incorporate “homey” historic language into writing about current descriptions of our lives and culture because collective memory is built from language. Our society is attempting to cope with a degree of change and an influx of information that is unheralded in human history. In times such as these, in unstable times, we humans have a tendency to cling to what is familiar. So if baking analogies seem quaint, please bear with me, I do it to draw our complex, heavily compartmentalized, split into silos information culture back to a common ground.
And such plain language is neither cornball or quaint. It reflects a far better nature behind word choice than using violent words of war and turns of phrase such as
- attack a problem
- declare a victory
- wage a war
- collateral damage
- target a competitor
So much of what we see and feel around us these days can seem alien. We can shift away from alienation through our words. Women are great communicators and we can draw out the commonality, the uniting threads of all that is transpiring around us. Inclusive language need not seem like a lecture from a women’s studies course, inclusive language can come from slowing down, simplifying, and reframing the what of which we speak through the how of the words with we choose to use.
Some of the best gifts we can give our children cannot be boxed and wrapped. The stories of strong women can be framed with anecdotes from our own family and history.
Language is powerful. Language constructs and supports power. I will leave the interpretation up to you, but Merriam Webster has announced that the word of the year for 2017 is feminism.
One of the strongest messages I intend to personally construct and convey in the next couple of years is how close we are in time to the period when women lacked the right to vote. My mother was born before the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified. . I am one generation away from political exclusion. My mom was a small girl when women were granted suffrage. I hope to make sure my daughter, step-daughter, and grand daughters all understand how that moment in history relates personally to my life and to their family history.
What do you want to make sure others know about women from your personal history?
More In-depth Reading on these Ideas
- Military Terminology and the English Language
- Reframing Feminism
- Word choice: Hidden meanings can influence our judgment
I don’t have kids, but I have two nieces and a nephew. What do I want them to know about women from my personal history?
I didn’t vote for Donald J. Trump.
And I’m holding a grudge against the Girl Scouts, which seriously upsets me. Being a Girl Scout was such an integral part of me becoming me, but I can no longer support an organization that actively participated in the inauguration of this Twitterer in Chief. The Girl Scout mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Perhaps the women in charge of the Girl Scouts should have tried to make the world a better place by showing some courage, confidence, and character to point at this misogynistic predator President and declare that females of any age do not have to endure such abuse.
Irene, I suspect a lot of women will want this fact to be known! How a woman votes is legacy-worthy material. I can’t remember much about my grandmother, but my mom talked about her mom’s political beliefs a bunch and that is much of how I “know” her. I have reservations about fence-striding women’s organizations too. Nieces and nephews, cousins, are lumped together in some cultures as children of brothers and sisters. You do have a maternal role.
Agree, most of our language has masculine overtones of a military nature, especially in business and politics. I’ve always been offended by “the war on cancer.” As if everything in life is a battle and courage is your battle mentality. Collaboration is a word that’s appearing more as more women increase their public presence. It will be interesting to listen for other words women bring forth into our broader discussions.
Joyce, yes, let’s keep our ears open! We should compile a list! We would be healthier both mentally and physically if we would frame things cooperatively.
Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski
I remember Women’s Lib taking hold in the early 70’s and how it changed our lives forever. But also the civil rights movement. I met some of their leaders when I was about 10 years old with my Dad and it was eyeopening for me. It’s sad to see all of our progress being tossed into the trash by the current tyrant and his sickening base. But the times they are a changing fast and with the win in Bama today, we’re about to have a reckoning.
Oh Rebecca, you are so right; I feel it with this win. The give and take is going to swing back hard and I am betting on women and equality, for all, moving two steps forward after the giant step backward. We have to be strong, conscious, and act collectively.