A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language

hardcover, 304 pages

Published May 28, 2019 by Harper Wave.

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5 stars (2 reviews)

The word "bitch" conjures many images for many people but is most often meant to describe an unpleasant woman. Even before its usage to mean a female canine, bitch didn’t refer to gender at all—it originated as a gender-neutral word meaning genitalia. A perfectly innocuous word devolving into a female insult is the case for tons more terms, including hussy, which simply meant “housewife,” or slut, which meant “untidy” and was also used to describe men. These words are just a few among history’s many English slurs hurled at women.

Amanda Montell, feminist linguist and staff features editor at online beauty and health magazine Byrdie.com, deconstructs language—from insults and cursing to grammar and pronunciation patterns—to reveal the ways it has been used for centuries to keep women form gaining equality. Ever wonder why so many people are annoyed when women use the word “like” as a filler? Or why certain …

4 editions

Ace slut-shaming shaming

5 stars

Read this for a history of The Man holding women down with a dictionary; an explanation of vocal fry and upspeak, the roles they fill in female communication, and how vilifying them is part of a hate as old as time; the many grammatical roles that an f-bomb can play; why gay guys often sound gay but lesbians don't sound 'lesbian'; and the word 'slut'. A lot. Just read it.

Edit: I originally rated Wordslut at four stars, but on reflection, its combination of outrage and history, delivered with disarming humor, sets a bar that should be considered the gold standard, not the silver standard.

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rated it

5 stars