Identify the main points of the Sherryl Kleinman article, "Why Sexist Language Matters."

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Kleinman's basic point is that there is a privileged status that is associated with men in modern society.  This status is foundational in allowing the exploitation and degrading of women to second class status.  It is a basic firmament. For Kleinman, the use of language as a social construction helps to reaffirm this.  The "manning" of language subconsciously yet actively makes men superior to women.  Sexist language matters because it serves as the basic pretext to all sorts of social privileging that men are able to appreciate more than women.  For Kleinman, the conditions that women endure to make them secondary to men in modern society must be examined in the widest form possible, including the construction of language:

Because male-based generics are another indicator -- and more importantly, a reinforcer -- of a system in which "man" in the abstract and men in the flesh are privileged over women. Some say that language merely reflects reality and so we should ignore our words and work on changing the unequal gender arrangements that are reflected in our language. Well, yes, in part.

With such a demonstration, Kleinman concludes the article by making the point that there should be a dialogue about why such language exists and what its implications are.  Through this, a worthwhile exercise in attention can be evident about why gender bias is something that needs to be actively confronted and transformed into equality.