English: A Gender Bias Profession or Degree

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"The rise of English in England ran parallel to the gradual, grudging admission of women to the institutions of higher education; and since English was an untaxing sort of affair, concerned with the finer feelings rather than the more virile topics of bona fide academic 'disciplines', ot seemed a convenient sort of non-subject to palm off on the ladies, who were in any case excluded from science and the professions" (Eagleton 24).

This quote stood out to me like a sore thumb! This quote seems to hold true, in a limited sense, throughout current history. For example, most of my English classes at Seton Hill are mostly dominated by females. This may only be because Seton Hill was, once, a female only school or because males usually do not study English-literature. Males tend to usually study Science or Math because it is a so-called “manly” subject. I do not believe that this is true. I think that any subject studied in post-secondary schools is appropriate for both genders.

While reading, I made the assumption that early-modern history was sexist. Do you think that based on the quote above? Our culture has grown and developed strong stereotypes. This can be seen, for example, with all of the previous elected Presidents. There has not been a woman elected President, ever. This may change in the coming elections, but it makes you wonder why society demotes one gender over another in certain professions or situations.

As history has changed, the idea of females studying English has changed. It seems that there are more and more males pursuing an English career. Personally, I believe that an English degree can take anyone past their goals as long as they strive for it. Our everyday society uses the English language to communicate crucial information.

For example:

"If human existence is constituted by time, it is equally made up of language" (Eagleton 55).

Language is the beginning step to a culture developing and turning into a successful nation. Every human, each and every day uses language in some shape or form.

Eagleton makes many interesting points about how the English language and literature has developed through history.

Course web page devoted to Eagleton

4 Comments

Derek, I really enjoyed this entry! You bring up some really good points and questions. I agree with you that the early Americans were sexist. It's terrible that back then, they thought so little of English. Men were "too good" to do English.

Today, our society is still sexist, but as you mentioned, in a different way. English is considered "girly" by some, but men definately have their place in English. Their place is next to the women for it does not take a certain sex to do English, it just takes a certain mind. Some people are math and science people, some are English and history. Some people are geniuses when it comes to working on cars. As long as a person is good at what he/she does, why does it matter what his/her gender is?

Hey Derek!!! I would have to agree that many things in the past are sexist and can still be seen in today's world. I'm not sure that the growth of women reading literature was sexist, it was rather the culture that was sexist. Because many women were not sent to university, I believe literature fell into their laps as a way to be educated in the English language and writing, while men were taught from text books, women began reading the novels.

And as far as there being more women as English majors, I agree that it looks that way. I also agree that English is not strictly a feminine subject or science a masculine, they are just different and we use different aspect s of our brain to understand them. However, I believe analyzing literature is just as difficult as solving a mathematic equation.

Excellent point Angela! I agree that if someone is good at what they do then why should it matter what the subject or topic is.

And I agree with you also, Bethany! I believe that literature is just as difficult as science or math. It may be harder because we don't have to come to an exact answer, but rather an educated analyzed answer.

Thanks for the comments and you both made great connections!

I agree Derek. Sexism ran rampant, among other ism's of that time period. And today, though there are some definite changes, (and for the good), it would seem that their are more women who study English, but men have most definitly found their place in the realm of the literary world. Just look at all the English professors who are men, and the great novelists who are men. What I find amusing is that if it was so sexist in that day then why are all the literary critics of that time men? Apparently it wasn't so womanly that men couldn't have opinions about the content and context of deeper literary meaning.

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on January 28, 2009 5:39 PM.

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