The base assumption behind this new form of therapy was that women were a stigmatized social group with inherent helplessness, and that they could be trained to be more assertive, which would help them acquire status amongst their peers (Crawford, 1995: 49–52).
This assumption, however, was flawed, as there was no scientific evidence to back up the claim that women were inherently less dominant or assertive in their daily lives - Crawford believes that women might appear less assertive due to their not possessing as high-status roles in society as men, which results in women not needing to be more assertive (Crawford, 1995: 63).
is a well-known idiom, but how accurate is this linguistically?
In this essay, I will discuss possible differences in assertiveness in the English language between speakers of different genders, with a focus on societal gender norms.
During the 20th and 21st centuries, however, women have been more accepted into higher-status roles, which has brought on a paradigm shift in how women interact and talk with other people in their groups - this shift, I believe, is seen both in the attitudes of men, who now have their traditional roles as leaders threatened in a new way; and women, who might find it difficult to assume a role they never before have been able to assume.
Another point to bring up is that male linguistic behaviour has commonly been seen as the norm, whereas female behaviour is the ‘deviation’ (Crawford, 1995: 9; Goddard & Patterson, 2000: 86).
I am acutely aware of this not being the entire truth, and would therefore like to pose the following question to you, the reader: What happens to this perceived linguistic assertiveness with people who do not conform to this traditional sense of gender dichotomy, for instance transgendered people?
The subject of gender and language use is vast and complicated, and one should not assume to understand this complicated matter after reading just this essay - the list of references below forms a structurally fairly sound base for reading about the matter, and I would highly recommend looking into the specifics of gendered language use, as detailed for example in Crawford’s work.
Furthermore, these studies often focus only on gender difference, not similarities, as well as portraying women as a deviation from the linguistic norm, the masculine way of speaking - something I will explore later on in this essay.
The latter is exemplified by Goddard and Patterson (2000): (1922) (…) His chapter on sex differences in language speaks volumes by its title: ‘The Woman’.