Vortragsankündigung 2 – Das Geschlecht des Gehirns

Nachdem der Vortrag Ende November so gut ankam – alle die ihn verpasst haben müssen nicht traurig sein!

Am 21.1.2015 um 19 Uhr wird es für alle Interessierten eine Wiederholung geben und zwar in Raum 23.03.01.41 an der HHU Düsseldorf.

Hier nochmal die Ankündigung:

Gegendertes Gehirn – Wie weiblich und männlich sind zerebrale Strukturen?

Frauen können besser zuhören und Männer haben eine bessere räumliche Vorstellungskraft; Das sagen zumindest die Medien gerne und Bücher die sich mit diesen Themen befassen verkaufen sich wie warme Semmeln. Alle berufen sich dabei auf Forschung, die sich mit dem Gehirn beschäftigt.

Doch was sagen diese neurologischen Studien eigentlich wirklich über unser Gehirn aus? Und wie genau befassen sich diese Studien überhaupt mit dem Gehirn? Manche Studien behaupten auch einen neurologischen Charakter zu haben, basieren aber nur auf Fragebögen. Eine gößrere Untersuchung unter diesen Studien werden wir uns im Vortrag genauer anschauen und uns selbst testen wie „weiblich“ oder „männlich“ unser Gehirn den Forscher*innen zu folge sein müsste. Des Weiteren werden wir erörtern, warum die Aussagen, die von dieser Studie getroffen werden nicht sonderlich sinnvoll und fundiert sind.

Gibt es ein männliches Gehirn und wie unterscheidet es sich von einem weiblichen? Kann man Aussagen, wie sie in den Medien häufig reproduziert werden, Vertrauen schenken? Was weiß man bisher über das Gehirn?

Mit diesem Vortrag wollen wir uns den genannten Fragen nähern und aufzeigen welche Schwäche die ganzen „Bestseller Studien“ haben.

(Wir werden übrigens alle notwendigen Fachbegriffe erläutern und eine Einführung in die Gehirnforschung & ihre Methoden an sich geben)

Vortragsankündigung- The field of Lavender Linguistics and why Conchita Wurst shouldn’t read the comment section

21.1.2015 11-12 Uhr – HHU 23.21.U1.91

Lavender Linguistics is a subfield of sociolinguistics dealing with the language of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer) individuals, heteronormative and heterosexist language use and also with homophobic and transphobic discourse. We will give a brief introduction to the field of Lavender Linguistics to then proceed with the presentation and analysis of anonymized Facebook-reactions towards non-binary individuals.
With the increase of CMC (Computer-mediated communication) cyber crime, cyber harassment and new communicative ways of insulting people have arisen. Especially the body is a popular target of harassment, i.e. regarding the shape and weight of the body.
In the past years more people, who do not fit existing cultural (heteronormative) stereotypes of binary gender, have come to the spotlight. Even if acceptance for non-binary individuals in the media is growing, they face a lot of criticism, prejudice and hate. A rather current example is European Songcontest winner Conchita Wurst, from Austria.
The reactions to these individuals on Facebook vary greatly, but also show extreme incomprehension of culturally unexpected behavior. This includes wishes for the celebrity to commit suicide or change their appearance and insults targeting appearance, gender and sexual orientation – to name a few.
The question comes up why individuals in the limelight need to fit binary gender categories – according to the backlash they are facing in online media. The focus of this research is on a linguistic analysis of hate speech, which will (among others) encompass porn language, threats of violence, body harassment, misogyny and general difficulties with accepting gender-fluidness.

Introduction to Lavender Linguistics

Lavender Linguistics is a subfield of sociolinguistics and deals with the language of individuals belonging to the LGBTQ-community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Queer). Besides the (scientific) analysis of this language use, lavender linguistics also includes research on heteronormative and heterosexist language, and lexical items used to refer to sexual orientations.

The term was first used in 1951 by Gershon Legman, who studied the gay lexicon – which includes words specifically used in the gay community with different purposes. One purpose was the establishment of a community but also to have a specific code to be able to communicate safely. Due to homophobia it was important to hide the sexuality and cover it up with non-suspicious terms.

The topics included in lavender linguistics were broadened in the early 1990s by Prof. William Leap, who works as an anthropologist. He also included gender studies and cultural studies, since these topics are closely connected to lavender languages.

Most research on lavender languages so far has been conducted in the field of gay language (e.g. gay phonetics or gay discourse analysis). Some of this research is based on the folk belief that it is possible to detect gay male individuals based on their pronounciation. According to research in this field gays speak with a higher pitched voice and use a broader intonation range (than non-gay males) – David Crystal uses the term effeminate to refer to gay language. Based on this sociologist Robin Lakoff made the claim that gay speech mirrors typical traits of female speech. This claim has been proven wrong, since stereotypically gay language only mirros features which are stereotypically connected to female speech. The inclusion of stereotypes in this research also leads to the main problem of research on gay phonetics; which individuals are usually tested in this field? Gay people, who show stereotypical behaviour? Gay people who have not come out of the closet, yet? Gay people who have come out of the closet, but are usually not “suspected” of being gay? In addition to this also certain regiolects or other sociolects, which may influence the pronounciation have to be taken into consideration. It is way easier to research the lexicon or to do discourse analysis, since these topics are easier to match to a whole group of individuals within a community.

Stereotypical features of feminine language are important in studies concerning the speech of transgender indviduals. Transgender individuals are persons who display behaviours which are typically associated with the opposite gender (based on a binary gender distinction). Way more research is conducted with the speech of male-to-female individuals (MTF) than with speech of female-to-male individuals (FTM).

MTF individuals may even undergo speech therapy to sound more feminine to raise their pitch, use more intonation contours and to sound in general more softly. FTM individuals seem to be of less scientific interest, since testosterone thickens the vocal chords and makes the voice sound deeper anyway. This difference in research is based on the assumption/ideology that (heterosexual-cis-) male language is unmarked. Unmarkedness is connected to states within a certain norm. This is also connected to the fact that there is way more research on gay language than on lesbian language. Lesbian language is usually considered to sound more masculine, without any further interest on e.g. pronounciation.

Besides the mentioned languages Lavender Linguistics contains research and discussion of hereonormative and heterosexist language. But who or what creates sexism? Is it the language itself or are the speakers of a language to blame? Several languages (including German) have a strong bias towards masculine wordforms when referring to a group of people of different genders. The argument that “That’s just how the language is and not connected to sexism” often comes up in discussions on whether texts should be produced in a gender neutral way – so some people think the language itself creates sexism. Considering the fact that languages always changed and will always change in addition to the possibility of using gender neutral forms also the speakers are responsible for the creation of sexism, even though most language users may not be aware of this. But by (involuntarily) reproducing sexist forms, they do maintain.

Heterosexist discourse contains way more than just a bias towards masculine forms. This form of discourse is characterized by the pejorative use of feminine words and the complimentary use of masculine words. Examples for pejorative use of feminine words are utterances like:

1. “He is such a girl!”

2. Don’t be a pussy!

 

Complimentary use of masculine words includes utterances like:

3. “Wow, girl, you can play football like a man!

4. “She can climb trees like a boy.

5. “Get up and grow some balls.”

Utterances 2 and 5 also show that sexual organs are, depending on the gender they belong to, used to imply weakness (female) or strength (male).

In addition to heterosexist discourse also homophobic discourse exists, examples for this are utterances like:

6- “That’s so gay!”

7. “Real men only love women.”

8. “You don’t like HIM, are you a lesbian?”

Homophobic discourse is also used as an insult among males to refer to other males as gay, irregardless of the sexual orientation of the adressed person.

 

Both discourse forms (heterosexist and homophobic) are mostly used to create a masculine idendity closely connected to heteronormative and sexist structures, which are suppsoed to advocate the image of strong and powerful males.
Overall Lavender Linguistics can be summed up as a linguistic subfield dealing with all intersections between language, gender and sexuality.

(KS)

Vortragsankündigung: Gegendertes Gehirn – Wie weiblich und männlich sind zerebrale Strukturen?

Für den 30.11.2014 wurden wir vom Gendereferat der FH Düsseldorf eingeladen einen Vortrag in der Reihe „Ey Ulli!“ zu halten. Los geht´s um 17 Uhr im Café Freiraum. Wir freuen uns auf ein zahlreiches Erscheinen!

Hier schonmal unser Ankündigungstext:

Frauen können besser zuhören und Männer haben eine bessere räumliche Vorstellungskraft; Das sagen zumindest die Medien gerne und Bücher die sich mit diesen Themen befassen verkaufen sich wie warme Semmeln. Alle berufen sich dabei auf Forschung, die sich mit dem Gehirn beschäftigt. Doch was sagen diese neurologischen Studien eigentlich wirklich über unser Gehirn aus? Und wie genau befassen sich diese Studien überhaupt mit dem Gehirn? Manche Studien behaupten auch einen neurologischen Charakter zu haben, basieren aber nur auf Fragebögen. Eine gößrere Untersuchung unter diesen Studien werden wir uns im Vortrag genauer anschauen und uns selbst testen wie „weiblich“ oder „männlich“ unser Gehirn den Forscher*innen zu folge sein müsste. Des Weiteren werden wir erörtern, warum die Aussagen, die von dieser Studie getroffen werden nicht sonderlich sinnvoll und fundiert sind. Gibt es ein männliches Gehirn und wie unterscheidet es sich von einem weiblichen? Kann man Aussagen, wie sie in den Medien häufig reproduziert werden, Vertrauen schenken? Was weiß man bisher über das Gehirn? Mit diesem Vortrag wollen wir uns den genannten Fragen nähern und aufzeigen welche Schwäche die ganzen „Bestseller Studien“ haben.

(Wir werden übrigens alle notwendigen Fachbegriffe erläutern und eine Einführung in die Gehirnforschung & ihre Methoden an sich geben)

Welcome at Femguist!

We – Dana and Kathi – are two young feminist linguists, or as we like to call ourselves „femguists“.

We both recently graduated in Linguistics at Düsseldorf University and come from different linguistic backgrounds. Dana has a focus on Forensic Linguistics and Law, Semantics and Pragmatics whereas Kathi specialized on Neurolinguistics and Bilingualism (Neuro-Bilingualism), Phonology and Dialectology/Sociolinguistics. We have a shared interest for feminism, queerness and lavender linguistics and combine our interests in these fields – besides our odd teaching.

This Blog is supposed to keep our fellow readers updated on what we are working on at the moment, upcoming talks etc. Mostly in the field of Lavender Linguistics but also several intersections of linguistics, feminism and related topics like e.g. issues on neural gender research.

 

We will also publish blogposts, which will be written either in German or English.