Over the weekend, Oxford University Press was taken to task on Twitter over the language used in some of its example sentences. The primary offender was in the wording of the adjective "rabid," which currently reads "a rabid feminist."
The troubling language was noticed by Canadian anthropologist and PhD candidate Michael Oman-Reagan. After tweeting at the dictionary publisher's account, suggesting they change the usage example, Oman-Reagan received a flippant response.
Oman-Reagan then went about highlighting other instances of sexism in the dictionary,
including “shrill” – defined as “the rising shrill of women’s voices”– and “psyche” – for which the example sentence is, “I will never really fathom the female psyche”. “Grating”, defined as “sounding harsh and unpleasant”, was illustrated with the phrase “her high, grating voice”, while the adjective “nagging” used the example phrase “a nagging wife”.
He concluded, in a post on Medium:
“As the Oxford Dictionary says in the usage example for ‘sexism’: ‘sexism in language is an offensive reminder of the way the culture sees women’. Shouldn’t the usage examples in this dictionary reflect that understanding of sexism in language?”
However, after still more examples were found, and "rabid" became the most-searched word on the dictionary's website, a more genuine apology was made and they pledged to review the usage language for "rabid."
In a statement, a spokesperson for Oxford University Press said that the publisher reviews “all of our example sentences to ensure they reflect current usage on an ongoing basis” and would also be reviewing the other examples raised by Oman-Reagan and others.
David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on Fusion.net—hop on. Got a tip? Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org