Posted by: alexisspain | January 19, 2016

Speak like a Lady

Last semester I look a class centered on language and culture. I delved into the topic fully and began to investigate how gender plays a role in language application and use. Things I have found that I continuously note while in class, restaurants, and at work:

  • When speaking women tend to code-switch between what I would call “casual talk” with their peers, and “professional speech” when answering higher ranking superiors and or answering phone calls from clients. The casual talk is much more slang filled, deeper toned, and relaxed. Whereas the professional talk is much more polite, high-pitched, clear, and practiced. Even the body language during code-switching changes from a comfortable slouch to a rigid position.
  • Women are consistently told things like “talk like a lady,” “don’t use swear words,” and “be polite”. Phrases like these back up and reinforce the patriarchal society that we live in that says that women must be poised at all times, be meek, be anything but aggressive with their speech. This is the way it has been and the way it continues to be because of the ignorance surrounding true equality (especially in the workplace).
  • Even in the classroom women are instructed to raise their hand yet men blurt out questions and answers all the time.


My issue here is with the fact that women don’t want to be stigmatized as aggressive or weird or commanding, so they conform to patriarchal norms that make them seem docile or meek when they aren’t. This is singlehandedly the reason that the masculine dominated norms dominate two genders, instead of just their own. We are free to choose how we speak and act in the academic and professional realm, so we need to take that liberty by the horns and grow the feminist movement.

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