According to reports, more than 30,000 people have come together to sign a petition to get Oxford Dictionary to change its definition of a ‘woman’ which apparently has some unfavourable words listed under its meaning.

The petition was launched by Maria Beatrice Giovanardi in June, who came across words like ‘bitch, piece, baggage, frail, bird and bint’ used as a definition of a woman, in the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary.

According to her, if you search the definition of a woman, you’ll come across a sexist sentence that calls woman a ‘daft’.

There are some more sentences that have been highlighted in the petition to show the problematic usage of the word ‘woman’. According to the petition, sentences like “Ms September will embody the professional, intelligent yet sexy career woman” and “I told you to be home when I get home, little woman” define women as sex objects or an irritation to men.

The word ‘woman’ in the Oxford Dictionary also has some disrespectful words listed as a direct synonym like ‘bitch, piece, baggage and bint’.

In an interview with The Guardian, the petitioner explained how she stumbled upon this sexist definition and also did a quick search to see if the word ‘men’ is defined in as many derogatory words but, to her surprise they weren’t. She found out that the most derogatory word used for a ‘man’ was ‘bozo’ or ‘geezer.’

Well, that’s not all. The definition of a ‘man’ has 25 examples but the definition of a woman only comprises of 5 examples, which goes to show that the double standards only applied to the definition of a woman. In her petition Marie wrote, 

This is completely unacceptable by a reputable source like the Oxford University Press, but it’s even more worrying when you consider how much influence they have in setting norms around our language. These misogynistic definitions have become widespread because search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo license the use of Oxford Dictionaries for their definitions.

Marie demands the removal of all phrases and definitions that discriminate and humiliate women. She also wants Oxford University to expand the dictionary’s entry for ‘woman’ by including examples that represent minorities (transgender woman, lesbian woman).

A spokesperson for Oxford University said,

We are taking the points raised in the petition very seriously. Our dictionaries strive to reflect, rather than dictate, language so any changes will be made on that basis.

Recently in a progressive move, Merriam Webster added ‘they’ as a non-binary pronoun.

Click here to read the petition.

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