November 9, 2020

Oxford English Dictionary Updates 'Sexist' Definition of the Word 'Woman'

The Oxford English Dictionary has updated its definition of the word “woman.” A spokesperson for Oxford University Press told the Guardian that the change came after an “extensive review” that looked at entries “for ‘woman’ and many other related terms.”

The change came after a Change.org petition — made by Maria Beatrice Giovanardi, a 28-year-old London-based communications and marketing expert — went viral. Giovanardi had simply searched online for a definition of “woman” and found that synonyms in the Oxford English Dictionary included “bitch, besom, piece, bit, mare, baggage, wench, petticoat, frail, bird, bint, biddy, filly.”

The dictionaries now sees “woman” now identified as a “person’s wife, girlfriend or female lover,” rather than only the wife, girlfriend or lover of a man.

Meanwhile, words like “bitch” remain as a synonym in the revised dictionary, even if the term is now labeled as “offensive.”

Giovanardi also discovered that the dictionary gave sexist example sentences for the word “woman” in use, including: “I told you to be home when I get home, little woman.” And, “Ms. September will embody the professional, intelligent yet sexy career woman.” As Giovanardi wrote in her petition, “These examples show women as sex objects, subordinate and/or an irritation to men.”

“This sexist dictionary must change,” Giovanardi added. Over 34,000 people who signed her petition agreed, and the Oxford University Press listened.

Meanwhile, British newspaper- the Independent said that “85 percent happy” with the new definition.

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