Tuesday, 26 January, 2016

Oxford Dictionary pushed to review 'rabid feminist' and 'nagging wife' examples

Feminists attack Oxford Dictionary of English for 'reinforcing sexist stereotypes' Oxford Dictionaries Slammed For 'Sexist' Definitions, Including 'Rabid Feminist' And 'Nagging Wife'
David Chambers | 26 January, 2016, 02:30

Unsurprisingly, a lot of the responses to Oman-Reagan's tweet are depressingly typical of Misogynist Twitter, but there's been a lot of good discussion about the effect of language on culture, too.

Writing on Medium Oman-Reagan said: "The Oxford Dictionary of English is the default dictionary on Apple's Mac OS X operating system".

Canadian anthropologist Michael Oman-Reagan noticed this and tweeted Oxford Dictionaries to complain, while also drawing attention to other "explicitly sexist" examples such as "bossy" ("a bossy, meddling woman"), "psyche" ("I will never really fathom the female psyche"), "nagging" ("a nagging wife"), "shrill", ("the rising shrill of women's voices") and "grating" ("her high, grating voice"). But you would think it is about time they updated some of the blatantly sexist example sentences they use to show how words are used.

Unfortunately, Oxford Dictionaries might now have a new usage example for "garbage", as in "garbage mentions", because that's what they have on Twitter.

"Please note: All the examples sentences throughout the site are real examples of usage".

It then goes on to give the example: "A rabid feminist".

A reasonable suggestion, but one that was quickly shot down by the Press, which tweeted back, "If only there were a word to describe how strongly you felt about feminism..."

In what could be read as a premptive caveat to such criticisms, Oxford Dictionaries says: "There are hundreds of thousands of English headwords and senses in Oxford Dictionaries, and nearly every one of these words, senses, and phrases has been linked to a selection of up to 20 extra examples from the databank".

In a tweet this week it said: 'We were flippant in some of our tweets yesterday.

In response, Oxford Dictionaries claimed "rabid" is neither a positive nor negative adjective. We apologise for the offence that these comments caused.

Over the weekend, Oxford University Press was taken to task on Twitter over the language used in some of its example sentences.

A spokesman for the publisher has been reported as saying it would also be reviewing all examples raised by Mr Oman-Reagan.

"That said, we are not reviewing the example sentence for "rabid" to ensure that it reflects current usage".

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