Why do the characters of the women's department often have negative meanings, and sexism and gender violence in Chinese characters are ubiquitous, and take you to see how women use "Nüshu" and "Women's Words" to invent exclusive women's words.

Suppose you invented the English word "Womanwomanwoman" to mean "rape", "defilement" and "adultery", how would you feel?

But have you noticed that the Chinese character "traitor" that we use in our daily life happens to contain these negative meanings? The word "traitor" derived from this is used for "traitor" and "traitor", and even has the meaning of evil and rebellion!

(Gaying in the same scene: "Women speak, soft and lovely, it's better not to speak" Japanese history of gender language)

The power of language and writing is so powerful because they are ubiquitous and permeate every corner of people's lives.

"Women should stay at home and raise their husbands and children" and "Girls are jealous animals" are obviously stereotypical and discriminatory words against women, which are easy for us to detect. However, the discrimination that has been passed down for thousands of years and hidden in language and writing is often ignored and blurted out by us because we are too accustomed to using it in daily life.

(Read more: Should politicians step down for sexist rhetoric?

Focusing on the thinking of the word "rape", Tong Yujie asked earnestly during the art exhibition "Rape: Cultural Symbols of Gender-Based Violence": "Why has the character composed of three women become a symbol with such a political and moral imagination, and the object of hatred in traditional social and political theories?"

Order a song for you: "Xiaojuan (pseudonym)"

Why do the words about women seem to be forever full of disgust, hatred, and hostility, and how much contempt and derogation of women are buried in the Chinese language? On this question, you may be interested in reading this lyric:

奻, adultery, demons,, prostitution, concubine, prostitute, prostitute, slave,
Trickery, greed, deceit, delusion, entertainment, suspicion, nuisance, jealousy, jealousy.
Contemptuous at the mercy of the skull
Withhold my name, forget my name
The same tragedy continues to play out...

"Xiaojuan (pseudonym)" is a song written by Chinese singer Tan Weiwei to complain about violence against women, especially domestic violence. The lyrics use 18 Chinese characters with "女" as a radical or side, representing hatred of women in the linguistic world.

How did words and language, copied and used by people from generation to generation, become a real tool to hurt people, and even drown out the names of individual women, so that they can only become victims of silence?

From the beginning: the origin of the female character

To understand the power of words to shape gender perceptions, let's start with the origin of the word "female". The word "female" already appears in oracle bone inscriptions, and is a hieroglyphic depiction of a woman kneeling with her hands folded.

Academia Sinica: The evolution of glyphs

Compared with the standing character "ren", this can show that people at that time had a certain social norm for women's division of labor in the family, and believed that the daily activities that women should engage in were more towards housework type static labor;

In addition to the shape, the radicals of the Chinese characters and the order of words also have an effect. Have you ever wondered why demons, jealousy, adultery, and entertainment are all women's departments, why there are "jealous women" and not "jealous husbands"; people often use "parents" and "husband and wife", but they have never heard of "mother-father" or "mother-in-law"?

(Guess what you want to see: how do women defend their assertions in traditional patriarchal families?

The character with the female radical bears the expectations and imagination of the women around them who can write (usually the upper class men), and becomes the object of satisfying needs and being dominated. In many civilizations, the concept of women being excluded and seen as male appendages is reflected in the written language.

For example, "woman" means that a woman holds a broom, which means that a married woman is expected to do housework such as cleaning, "entertainment" means that a woman is the one who provides pastime and cheerfulness, a woman is "good" when she has children, and no offspring may be expelled from the house, and charming, graceful, graceful, and fair lady all imply the imagination, expectations, and requirements for women

The female editors behind the Oxford Dictionary

The moment when women are "silenced" by the writing system can also be found in the process of compiling dictionaries.

In 1928, the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, which took nearly 50 years to compile, was finally published, and the British Prime Minister hosted a grand banquet for the scholars. However, during this dinner, many senior female editors who have dedicated half their lives to the dictionary are only allowed to watch from a distance.

Photo: Murray, J. A. H. - Examining the OED

At the time, there was no trust in women's ability to conduct research independently, and they could only enter the library as assistants or wives of male scholars, and were not allowed to access the archives unless they had letters of recommendation or marriage certificates.

However, many women are actually involved in most of the dictionaries, either as volunteers or as editorial assistants.

(Also screened: "Women's Life Design" New Book Launch: Seeing the Intertwined Issues of Politics, Economy, Society, and Culture Behind Women)

The Dictionary of Lost Words, a historical adaptation, depicts the courageous actions of Esme, an editorial assistant, to reclaim the words that belong to women and fight for women's status with her expertise.

Esme was always puzzled by the fact that the dictionary, for all its contents, never included words to describe a woman's monthly bleeding, or a maid to complain about the exhaustion of her hard work, or a market aunt to describe sexual intercourse or prostitution.

(Extended reading: The moral behind "female ghosts"!Gender ghost stories in Chinese society: men who crave intimacy, oppressed women, etc., 3 aspects of the analysis of the birth of female ghosts)

She was at the end of the Victorian era, and the everyday language of women at the bottom was seen as filthy and indecent, and their words were unspeakable and should not have entered the Oxford Dictionary of high society.

Esme quietly indexed and documented the sources of these words that had been abandoned by the dictionary, and then carefully stored them in old suitcases, and finally published them with the help of friends at the printing house, which depicted women's lives and belonged to the world in which they belonged.

Photo: The Dictionary of Lost Words: A Novel by Pip Williams

Women in Hunan, China, use the Nüshu to write their own words and speak their own words

The struggle for linguistic equality is not limited to fiction. In the real world, there is also a group of people who roll up their sleeves and aspire to change the way people look at language and think about identity.

About 150 to 200 years ago, rural women in Hunan Province wrote a female script called Nüshu. Deeply aware of the exclusion of the dominant script ("men's books"), the women vowed to be strong and use their knowledge and experience to help each other.

(Extended reading: How to write a journal diary?3 ways to write to depict an ideal life!Unboxing Woman Fan 2024 play with time Journal)

In 1982, when the documentary "Nüshu Comes Back to Life" was filmed, only two old ladies were left who could still write and sing Nüshu texts. Anthropologist Liu Feiwen said, "Jiang Yong women express all kinds of sufferings in their lives through women's songs and books, including their own sorrows and the experiences of other women, each of which is a true and blood-stained story. 」

The only women-only book in the world is their most intimate and intimate emotional carrier.

"Women's Words" rewrites the dictionary and challenges the hidden discrimination of words

Malaysia's TypoKaki Design publishes "Woman's Words", nicknamed "Little Red Dictionary". They want to present the unique appearance and experience of women directly in the font, for example, in the book, female + pain = uncomfortable feeling when menstruation comes, and female + hair represents girls with long hair.

Such a revolutionary and bold move is the intention of the "Women's Words" team to make people feel confused, novel or shocked, and to be challenged and reflected.

Picture: Woman's Words| Women's Words (2014) - Tan Zi Hao 陳子豪

So, what can we do? Although we are not responsible for compiling dictionaries and do not have the power to change language, as users, we can still start to practice paying attention to whether the words we say or write may hurt each other or reinforce stereotypes about society as a whole.

Avoiding the use of words such as "bitch" and "sissy", which are obviously biased and discriminatory, and replacing "good man" and "fierce" compliments with specific compliments, can eliminate the masculine worship and feminine rebuke in society, and no longer replicate the contempt, hostility, and anachronistic imagination of women when these words were originally created.

At the same time, they began to name common experiences and feelings. Those things that no one understood before can one day flow naturally from your mouths and pens.

Considering and respecting women more in language, not only for women, but also for the language itself—for a richer and more inclusive everyday culture, which can be developed from the writing and speaking we love.