February 01, 2006

What's in a Lexicon?

Lexicon: n. pl. lex·i·cons or lex·i·ca [ -k ] 1. A dictionary. 2. A stock of terms used in a particular profession, subject, or style; a vocabulary: the lexicon of surrealist art. 3. Linguistics The morphemes of a language considered as a group. The American Heritage ® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

What's in our lexicon for adults without children?

Aunt
Atypical
Bachelor
Barren
Childfree, child-free
Childless
D.I.N.K.
Deviants
Early articulator
Nonparents
Purple Woman
(T. Tith, Purple Women™, 2005)
Social progressive
Spinster
Sterile
Traditional
(Mardy S. Ireland, PhD, “Reconceiving Women; Separating Motherhood from Female Identity”, 1993)
Transformational (M. Ireland)
Transitional (M. Ireland)
Uncle

Ward-free

Mardy Ireland’s book was the very first one I read on the subject of being childfree. She points out that for women in particular, we are challenged by the fact that our language is very male-centric. She believes that our female experience is “not fully represented in our language” and that “only through writing can women claim their own destinies…”

The above list is not comprehensive. I’ve intentionally left out most of the negative, ill-informed labels that the childfree often come across in everyday social interactions. As it is, there are still quite a few loaded words on the list. Care to comment on any of them?


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3 comments:

NikkiJ said...

Isn’t it interesting that most of the words that people use to describe women without children generally negative (barren, childless, non-parent/s) or flippant ( D.I.N.K.S, alternative), or judgmental (like selfish). And, conversely, many of the words that describe women with children are positive (like fruitful, fertile, parents, family, family oriented, productive, traditional, etc). Seems to me that this is a clear more proof that not having children or, even worse deciding not to have children, is very much frowned upon by society.

Teri said...

NikkiJ -- Well said. I've noticed the same thing. Thanks for your comment and welcome to the Purple Women Blog team. You can also contribute your own original blog posts as you desire. Blog on!

ChrisR said...

If I hear that I'm selfish for being child free one more time ... That one really does my head in!

But I'm with you on the usually negative tone of description here. I guess that's why I go for child-free, rather than child-less. I certainly don't think my life is lacking anything, or at least, not in that department!