Authors
Sylvia Burrow
University of Western Ontario
Abstract
Socialization enforces gendered standards of politeness that encourage men to be dominating and women to be deferential in mixed-gender discourse. This gendered dynamic of politeness places women in a double bind. If women are to participate in polite discourse with men, and thus to avail of smooth and fortuitous social interaction, women demote themselves to a lower social ranking. If women wish to rise above such ranking, then they fail to be polite and hence, open themselves to a wellspring of social discord, dissention, and antagonism. The possibility for women’s politeness in mixed-gender conversation threatens more than cooperation, it undermines the possibility for self-respect and autonomy.
Keywords politeness  autonomy  language  gendered discourse  women  oppression  socio-linguistic  feminist
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