I have just been reading Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue", a very interesting book on the English language. The power of language has always interested me. The 1999 South Park movie "Bigger, Longer & Uncut", for example, could simply be seen as just more of the shock-and-offend tactics used by this programme. In reality, it satirizes how acceptable it is to portray gratuitous violence in the media, while using certain words is not.
However, it's not only swear words that have powerful connotations. We all know how much words said in haste or anger can wound us, often for many years afterwards. Our own self-talk can be hugely limiting and damaging to our lives, so there's no doubt about the power that words and language hold. My point in writing this post is that there are still words and language that exists that subtly denigrate us as women, especially older women.
Gender-neutral language such as "chairperson" can seem stilted and rather ridiculous, and it's often mocked. However, there are many everyday expressions in our language that we use but don't really think about. For example, the expression "family man". Have you ever heard a woman described as a "family woman"? I don't think so. It's expected that women should be devoted to their children. With men, it's something that's worth commenting on.
And do you ever describe someone as being "like an old woman"? I've done that myself. A slow and cautious driver is a "nana driver". I don't know of any male equivalent.
This is a huge topic, and I could go on at length about how various words relating to women have been debased in our language. "Mistress" is a good example of that. Also "crone", which was originally part of the Trinity of Maiden/Mother/Crone of Wicca and goddess-based beliefs, but is more normally a very insulting term. However, I'll focus on one very specific type of word for my question to you - your name, part of your very identity.
Goodwin is my married name and I've kept it after my divorce because I wanted to have the same name as my children. When I was a child and my mother remarried, I was teased at school because she had a different name from me. Of course, this was 50 years ago when divorce was uncommon and single parents were rare.
If you have married, did you change your name to your husband's? If so, and you were marrying again today, would you do the same?