In Spain, the Castilian Spanish is the most widely used dialect. Much like Italian, French, Greek and Portuguese, Castilian Spanish differentiates objects as male and female, oftentimes resulting in personifications of furniture but more importantly, in the overpowering of male nouns to female ones. If one were to describe a group of eight female dancers and one male pianist, the single male pianist would take dominance, grammatically speaking, thus resulting in a description of “them” to be of a masculine nature. Despite its evident sexist connotations, modifying the gendered language in attempts to conform with today’s society is not a solution.
In her book “De Mujeres, Palabras y Alfileres”, translated as Woman, Words and Alfileres, Yadira Calvo argues that because language — embedded in our culture and an unavoidable part of our daily lives — is sexist, the language’s connotations are reflected in Spain’s patriarchal attitude in today’s society toward women. Although I do agree that language is partially responsible, regardless of its linguistic implications, Castilian Spanish should remain untouched as it withholds undefinable beauty and charm, much like art. Political correctness is going too far, and modifying art for the sake of feminism would be nothing less than a crime.
Individuals supporting the adjustment of the Spanish language, such as director of the “Instituto Orígenes del Español del Cilengua” — Origins of the Spanish Institute of Cilengua — Claudio Garcia Turza, might as well go ahead and modify Picasso’s “Nude Woman with a Necklace.” If these individuals were to be given the green light, who can guarantee Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” will not be banned for inappropriate female interpretation next?
Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, sexism has been a part of our history for centuries, and attempting to move forward through the shunning of all mankind’s past discriminatory approach is no way to do it. Instead, I believe we must recognize our past mistakes, recognize the beauty in mistakes these may have regardless of their significance and thereafter choose to pursue a path of equality and appreciation of all.
Furthermore, regardless of the Spanish language’s fundamental sexism, t if one wishes to change our society’s attitude towards gender discrimination, there are a myriad of other, more significant issues one might tackle before the sexist connotations in a language. If one veritably wishes to make a meaningful change, I am of the opinion that significant issues such as salary disparity, job discrimination or domestic abuse should take priority in one’s agenda.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Lara Dreux [email protected]