Edna Sednitzer, who blogs at Red Light Politics, sent us in two screencaps of what she came across during a recent search on Thesaurus.com. She searched the word “power” and this is one of the entries that came up, for “related adjectives” (some words I found notable highlighted in red):
Out of curiosity she then searched “weakness,” and here are the suggested adjectives:
At least according to this thesaurus, masculinity is powerful, capable, competent; femininity is weak and incompetent. There’s a sexual component as well — notice that power is associated with being virile, while weakness = lustless. Of course, we also associate men and masculinity with the active pursuit of sex, while women are supposed to be the objects of pursuit, not actively sexual.
Anyway, it’s a great example of how language is gendered in a way that privileges masculinity and men over femininity and women.Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.