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Monday, April 12, 2021

    Oxford Dictionaries amends ‘sexist’ definitions of the word ‘woman’

    This petition aimed at removing synonyms of the ‘woman’ such as “bitch, besom, piece, bint, wench, biddy, baggage” from the dictionary.

    Guwahati: Oxford University Press has updated its dictionaries definition of the word “woman” following extensive petitions from last year condemning the inclusion of sexist words as synonyms.

     The new change came after a petition last year by campaigner Maria Beatrice Giovanardi to get phrases and definitions that are discriminatory against women.

    This petition aimed at removing synonyms of the ‘woman’ such as “bitch, besom, piece, bint, wench, biddy, baggage” from the dictionary.

    The updated definition now acknowledges that a woman can be “a person’s wife, girlfriend, or female lover”, rather than only a man’s.

    The entry for “man” has also been amended to include the same gender-neutral terminology, while, many other terms relating to sexual attractiveness and activity have been revised.

    Several labels have also been assigned terms categorised as derogatory, offensive or dated. The words bitch and bint are no longer listed as synonyms for the word woman.

    The petition also called for all phrases and definition that “discriminate and patronise” or “connote men’s ownership” of women to be eliminated. It also wanted enlargement of the definition to include examples representative of minorities groups belonging to the LGBTQ community.

    The campaign received support from the Women’s Aid and Women’s Equality party on this year’s International Women’s Day and demanded changes of the sexist definition. As per reports, the campaigners argued that women were presented as a subordinate or irrational in the dictionary, while examples offered for man were much more exhaustive.

    Although Maria is happy with the success of the campaign, she remains disappointed that while the word ‘bitch’ has been labeled as offensive in the dictionary, it continues to be listed as a synonym.


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