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Wordslut

A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language
Narrated by: Laurence Bouvard
Length: 8 hrs and 23 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Gender Issues
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Summary

A brash, enlightening and wildly entertaining look at gendered language and the way it shapes us.  

English is scattered with perfectly innocuous words that have devolved into insults hurled at women. The word ‘bitch’ originally meant male or female genitalia. ‘Hussy’ was simply a housewife, and a ‘slut’ was an untidy man or woman.  

Amanda Montell, feminist linguist and features editor at online magazine Byrdie, explains why words matter and why it’s imperative that women embrace their unique relationship with language. Drawing on fascinating research, and moving effortlessly between history and pop culture, Montell deconstructs language - from insults and cursing to grammar and pronunciation - to reveal the ways it has been used for centuries to gaslight women and keep them from gaining equality. 

Montell’s irresistible intelligence and humour shines through as she makes linguistics not only approachable but downright enthralling.  

Far from being crushed by mansplainers and misogynists, women have a superior capacity to adapt to linguistic change and tend to be at the forefront of linguistic trends. Wordslut gets to the heart of our language, sheds light into the biases that shadow women in our culture and shows how to embrace language to verbally smash the patriarchy.

©2019 Helen FitzGerald (P)2019 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

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Mind-expanding exploration of feminist vocabulary

Audacious, mind-expanding linguistic exploration of feminist vocabulary, past and present.

Linguist Montell pulls back the layers and the centuries of gender-controlled language and makes us take a long hard look at the words we use, how and why. From the first, I felt illumination. I adore social history, books about language and irreverent humour, so this was a perfect bringing-together of elements I relish.

Montell narrates her own work, doing it with humour and charm, including anecdotes from her own past as she also delves into our country's history. Long ago word origins are uncovered and discussed, the development of terms examined, current contemporary labels are pulled apart.

There is a lot of humour to be had, the chapter on genitalia terms had me chortling aloud. Swearing from the female perspective was quite educative. Insults with a gendered bias likewise. The very voguish references to 'vocal fry' and Trump's 'locker room banter' brought us right up to date with current linguistic questions.

This is one I'll be returning to, I suspect. Highly fascinating, at times riotously funny, honest and profund, anybody with an interest in the history of language, particularly that relating to gender, would be advised to give it a try.

With thanks to Nudge Books for providing a sample Audible copy.