valor

A Quote by Paul Richards on language, creation, women, feminine, female, honor, valor, herosim, and heroine

All the way around, when we consider the absolute number of defining negative terms or the ratio of negative to positive word use for each gender, women lose out when it comes to positive, defining language. I mean, they really lose out. My search for definitions of chivalry or gallantry that apply specifically to women has so far come up with nothing. Consider the terms honor, steadfastness, and valor. Though not overtly gender-specific, they are male-tilted by broad context and long-established patterns of use. And these words, even though they can be applied to women, don't imply what gallantry and chivalry imply, which is a mixture of kindness, confidence, and power as specifically linked to one gender…

Lastly, of course, I must comment on the feminine version of the word hero, which of course is heroine. This term describes a woman's role in a story but does not specifically refer to character or nobility. Heroine is probably the most frequently used positive word for a woman in common vocabulary, but almost nobody I know would use it to describe a real, ordinary person. By our language's glaring lack of gender-specific terms for female nobility of character, and the ongoing presence of specialized male terms such as gallantry, we can infer that a bias against celebrating the feminine exists in Western culture much as it does in places like New Guinea, even if it takes a less physically brutal form. This language anomaly in no way reflects the actual nature of women as I have experienced them. Many women I know have shown chivalry equal to a man's in harrowing circumstances, including, in Patty's case, a brush with war in the jungles of New Guinea and making life-or-death decisions as a nurse midwife at the bedsides off hundreds of women in labor. The emotional heroism of women, in my opinion, far surpasses that of men, on a daily basis. By emotional heroism I mean the complex choices women often make, setting aside their own needs or supressing strong feelings, in the service of a greater good.

Paul Richards

Source: Wild Attraction, a Ruthlessly Practical Guide to Extraordinary Relationship, Pages: 181-183

Contributed by: Siona

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