“People with Uteruses”- On Genderist Newspeak and the Stifling of Feminist Discourse

Originally posted by delicately-interconnected

In his dystopian 1949 novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, George Orwell developed the concept of “Newspeak”- a fictitious, heavily dogmatic language designed by the totalitarian ruling party (Ingsoc) to control the masses through censorship. The language is a condensed, simplified version of English in which synonyms and antonyms are replaced with a singular, compound term- for example, “good” remains as it is and “bad” becomes “ungood”.”Terrible” becomes “doubleplusungood” and so on.

Orwell developed this language in allegory to the way that regimes police the language of the population groups they oppress. It is well known to linguists and sociologists alike that language can influence a person’s worldview, a concept known as ‘linguistic relativity’ or, more commonly, the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. Originally formulated by studying color perception in different cultures, the principle is applied in a variety of fields, from philosophy to psychology and anthropology. In anthropology, the suppression of language is studied in the context of cultural suppression, a method that has been used throughout history by colonists against indigenous peoples, and by other socially dominant classes against dissidents.

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