Textbooks: The Dangers of Language and Misrepresentation

Our assignment for class today (4/26) was to “Browse articles from Against Equality; Feministing; and Wear Your Voice. Pick one that relates to something that [we] learned in GSS 101 for the very first time, particularly an idea that surprised [us], led [us] to shift [our] understanding of some aspect of our world.” I wasn’t able to be in class today because I am very ill (posting from my bed, tbh) but, I wanted to share with y’all an insight that I had. I was really intrigued by the Emily Martin reading “The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles.” So fascinatedin fact, that I decided to write my WRI 101 final paper on gendered language in textbooks for entry level courses. Thus, when I was looking for an article on one on the above three websites to disscuss in class, my attention was caught by an article entitled “THE BATTLE TO REPRESENT MARGINALIZED HISTORIES IN CALIFORNIA TEXTBOOKS.” In this article author Reina Gattuso describes how “conservative Hindu-American groups are attempting to push a number of edits into California’s public school history teachers’ guides. These edits contest the use of “South Asia” for pre-Independence India and minimize the role of caste injustice and gender injustice in Indian — and specifically Hindu — history” (1). Although not gendered language, this is another example, just like Martin’s writing, of how disenfranchised groups are being harmed by the language and content of textbooks.

P.S. If y’all want any information on other examples of gendered language in textbooks, I’d be happy to share some of my research with you!