A fresh look at how gender impacts language, loaded with strategies to alter the way people think about communication.
In her debut, editor and linguist Montell sets a high bar, proving that linguistics plus feminism equals big fun. The infectious love of wordplay embedded in her work translates into a laugh-out-loud analysis and critique. Readers are invited to enter the realm of ever evolving speech habits and encouraged to consider their own thinking about language and power. With attention to global variations, the author substantively addresses the inherent ways communication patterns have misrepresented and sometimes failed women speakers of English throughout history. In addition to considering how feminism’s language makeover may improve accuracy, Montell offers hilarious insights on such topics as how to confuse catcallers (“and other ways to verbally smash the patriarchy”), techniques for shutting down obsessive grammar correctors, and how to craft insults, talk dirty, and swear (while feminist). The author addresses the game-changing inroads made by academic feminists and writers from the 1970s to the 1990s while also candidly documenting their shortcomings, and she sets the path and pace for reshaping language use with equity in mind. She explores how young women’s speech patterns often influence future directions and examines how some frequently criticized adaptations, like hedging and uptalk, serve distinct social purposes. Montell also analyzes how everything from women’s word choices to voices are policed and coached. She unpacks these biases while debunking related advice that describes itself as ‘empowering’ while encouraging girls and women to change. Grounded in decades of innovative feminist scholarship, full of witty personal stories, and written with the pragmatic aim of disrupting and changing the status quo, this is a humorous and important book for anyone interested in gender equality, wordplay, or fostering precise communication.
Just the kind of sharp, relevant scholarship needed to continue to inspire the next generation of feminist thought.