This communicate about language is not easy to translate, this why we add information in brackets and attach the Spanish version for people who can read this language. It is also an opportunity to thank Trisha for all her translations.
WE LIKE to be MEMBERS of WOMEN in BLACK: a REFLECTION on LANGUAGE
We, Women in Black, feminists, pacifists, anti-militarists, believe that it is very important to reflect on language in our activism. Our mother tongue is not neutral: it is influenced by our personal environment, historical, cultural and social, and, in turn, influences these features of our lives.
We analyze and question the language that we have inherited because it has been a mirror of the patriarchal structures which for centuries has not included women. We have not been mentioned or we have not been included, according to their interests and purposes.
We know and we feel that WE (in Spanish, only the masculine) does not include us; ALL [men] is not ALL [men and women].
If, without any problem, we have for a long time been teachers, clerks, patrons, officials and princesses [in their feminine forms], we also want to be and can be doctors, musicians, presidents, judges, councilors [in the feminine forms in Spanish].
We do not want to be female warriors, nor redoubtable women (in Spanish ‘women who take up arms’), nor striking women (in Spanish women flag-wavers). We are activists not militants. We are actors for peace, not the resting place for warriors. We note warlike phrases used in language such as that used in football, other leisure activities, even in the language of some festivals and popular traditions, where violence and confrontation are extolled. The aggressiveness and insults that so many politicians use in their debates, even in Parliament, also seem to us an example lack of respect and lack of democracy.
Who changes language? Who invents new words? The Academy of the Spanish Language? The intellectuals? The poets? Housewives? Any speaker, all speakers (both male and female) change language. All languages constantly evolve and change and for sundry reasons, including new historic and social realities.
The Royal Academy admits new words into their Dictionary; upon turning on the computer, one is inundated with an avalanche of words and phrases in English that are imposed on us at a dizzying pace.
However, the Academy and the most conservative and male-oriented social sectors continue to show an incomprehensible virulence and scorn towards the creations, analysis and statements regarding feminism and pacifism. Their main argument is ridiculing and an insult.
Femicide, sisterhood, nonviolence, phobia towards lesbians, are not yet in the dictionary but we do use these expressions. We do not believe the fallacy that the masculine gender [in words] includes women, just as we do not accept that the armies are forces for peace.
We, Women in Black, want to re-arrange the patriarchal discourse with our ♀ subjective ♀ subversive ♀ non-violent ♀ inclusive ♀ pluralistic ♀ creative ♀ language.
♀ We want to exile the expressions that are offensive and discriminatory towards people because of their gender, race, origin or sexual orientation. We do not want what is considered politically correct, rather an innovative language that does not repeat the usual prejudices.
♀ We ask the Administration to promote and be the first to use a non-sexist language, inclusive of women. Let us not permit that this be considered a matter of secondary importance or the last issue to consider.
♀ We want to learn to name a world without violence, without militarism and without war.
Translation: Trisha Novak, USA