To gender or not to gender? (Thoughts prompted by the death of Zaha Hadid)

“As this answer implies, sex and gender shape every individual’s life-experience: the difference between men and women isn’t that men aren’t affected by their maleness, it’s only that they are rarely asked to ponder its effects. Women, by contrast, are endlessly required to explain how their femaleness influences everything they do.”

This post and article was brilliant.

language: a feminist guide

Last week, after Zaha Hadid’s death was announced, someone I know posted on Facebook: ‘It’s annoying that the coverage keeps referring to her as “the world’s most prominent female architect”. Why not “one of the world’s most prominent architects?”’

Most people who responded agreed that it was sexist to put Hadid into a subcategory of ‘female architects’ rather than acknowledging her status as one of the leading figures in contemporary architecture, period. But one person dissented, arguing that since it’s still harder for women to succeed in most professions, drawing attention to Hadid’s sex underlined rather than detracting from her achievements. This commenter also felt that highlighting women’s successes explicitly was important, because it helped to inspire other women and girls.

‘To gender or not to gender’ is a question that has also divided feminist linguists. Robin Lakoff, author of the influential early text Language andWoman’sPlace, is…

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2 Comments on “To gender or not to gender? (Thoughts prompted by the death of Zaha Hadid)

  1. Interesting question and subject matter. Having heard this news, I didn’t give any thought to the gender issue but now I have, I can’t say that I feel any differently. Without a photograph, I would have been unclear as to the gender of this particular person, because I wasn’t entirely sure whether the name belonged to a male or female, so in that respect, it was helpful. It’s sad when someone dies but I’m more affected by the loss of my parents than someone I have never met, whether they are accomplished or not. Every death is a loss in one way or another, be it to a few people or thousands. I recently saw a post from a blogger who mentioned the victims of a suicide bombing, I was disturbed to read that they had highlighted that each of the victims was educated. Having given this more thought, I was angered…how does being educated, make the loss of an individual any more important than of a person who is not educated. For many thousands of people across the world, education is not an option.

    • Naturally, it is okay to feel the loss of your loved one more Annie that is not a crime. But you are empathetic enough to also know those lives matter too. And yeah being educated and not does not matter and this is the life-statistics people should stop doing. Life is precious and we must reclaim its preciousness for everyone.

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