Feminist Stylistic Analysis

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(1995:3) argues that other techniques do not focus on gender enough. Mills (1995:2) presents a toolkit with questions included in feminist stylistics that she argues could be used at any text to discover gender differences. The model also builds on work from other feminist linguists such as Cameron (1985 cited in Mills 1995:15) and Coates (1986 cited in Mills 1995:15). Feminist stylisticians have other questions, in addition to these posed by Leech and Short; for example, feminist stylisticians place less emphasis on the artistic function of language than on other aspects of language, since it is clear that there are regularities in representations across a range of different texts. Feminist stylistics is concerned with the general emphasis…show more content…
Short characterizes this type of literary work as essentially concerned with the subjective, individualistic process of interpreting literary texts. Shot says: it is true that each reader will to some extent interpret a text differently from others, merely as a consequence of the fact that we are all different from one another, have had different experiences, and so on. But it should be obvious that such a subjectivist view of literary understanding runs counter to the presuppositions of stylistic analysis, whose proponents assume that our shared knowledge of the structure of our language and the processes for interpreting utterances in our community imply a relatively large degree of common understanding, in spite of differences in individual response. For the stylistician, the major fact to be explained is that, although we are all different, we agree to a remarkable extent over the interpretation, the range of interpretations which have been produced for even the most discussed texts is remarkably small compared with the theoretically infinite set of ‘possible’ readings. (Short…show more content…
Mills (1995:21) is of the opinion that words could only be sexist depending on the context. However, she argues for the importance of analysing texts at a word-level by stating that certain word-uses reflect gender differences. The tradition of viewing men as the norm in language is evident at word-level by the use of generic words. Generic words are often the same word that is used when describing the masculine variant (Pauwels 2003:553). Mills (1995:87-89) states that the most common examples are when “he” and “man” are used for referring to both women and men. The word “man” is also used as an affix in generic terms such as “policeman”, “postman” or “manpower” (Mills 1995:91). Pauwels (2003:553) argues that this kind of language-use makes women invisible. It is more common to visualise a male person when interpreting a word that includes “man” and this might lead to stereotypes of certain occupations (Mills 1995:95). Weatherall (2002:26) refers to studies (MacKay and Fulkerson, 1979; Moulton, Robinson and Elias 1978), which proves that when masculine words are used generically, they are interpreted as describing a man. It could also be argued that his type of word-use is unclear since it could be difficult to know when the word is used generically and when it is used as a masculine term (Doyle 1995/6:151). Feminist language reformists have provided and supported

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