The way we use language is so important to the way that we are seen and the way that we percieve and understand the world. I believe that we can change the world through changing our language by pulling apart the words and phrases that we use, and by changing them we can change the world because we have given the words new meaning. Here are some examples;
– spoilt children
Normally when the world spoilt to used it means that something has been negatively effected and if you think of food that is spoilt, then it is food that we would throw away and not generally eat. Children are not like this, no children are spoilt in this way. We would not think of throwing a child away because they were ‘spoilt’ so why do we put those two words together?
Maternity leave –
When we use the word ‘maternity’ we reduce the effect of parenting to just one person, the female. Instead of empowering women’s rights as a parent, the word reduces child raising to a ‘women’s role’ instead of a parenting role that is the responsibility of both mother and father, male and female. In effect using the word ‘maternity’ instead of ‘paternity’ takes accountability for child care away from the male and increases the burden of child care on the female, or the mother. We continue to associate child are as the primary role of women, but by using the term parental leave we are both inclusive and enabling of both parents and I believe, send a strong message to society that raising children is the responsibility of society, not just a mother.
The continued use of the word maternity disadvantages women, particularly in the corporate work place where women’s careers are still likely to be more effected by this leave of absence than a man’s because it is under the guise of ‘maternity leave’.
The use of the term, ‘parental leave’ forces us to recognise that being a parent is the responsibility of both parents, not just a mother, it takes a male and a female to produce a child even in a same sex relationship. The use of the word parental forces society to recognise that we are all involved in the act of child care, even those who don’t have children, need children to sustain our society.