The Gendered Politics of Writing from 1770-1922

The digital humanities project that I chose to look into analyzed the use of pronouns in novels in the time period of 1770-1922. The goal of this project was to understand and identify the conceptions of gender and how they were expressed and changed through the reading and interpretations of readings of thousands of books.

The study began by looking at adjectives and the ways in which they were gendered. It was found that the adjectives with the highest positive difference were most closely associated with the strongest male pronouns. The complete opposite was found in relation to females, as the strongest female pronouns were associated with the highest negative difference.

Next, the study looked at the overall frequency of gendered pronouns. Female pronouns were used 33.2% of the time , and were used 52.8% of the time by female authors while male pronouns were used 66.8% of the time. Looking further into pronouns, the use of female subject pronouns occurred 32.5% of the time, and the use of male subject pronouns occurred 67.5% of the time. through this type of study, it was found that male pronouns were used more often in the subject, and female pronouns were used more often in the object.

The most interesting part of this research, in my perspective, was the discussion of median differences in the discussion of male related speech versus female related speech. Overall, it was found that male instances in novels occur every twelve or thirteen words for male authors and every 13 or 14 words for female authors. Female instances occurred every 72 or 73 words for male authors and every 30 or 31 words for female authors. The range of median differences, during this time period, for males was 30-45 words, while the range for females was 5,091-19,713 words. The study interpreted these statistics as evidence that male pronouns serve as agents more often than female pronouns do. It can also be due to the fact that female authors will often use The study also suggested that this factors into the ways in which male-centered novels exclude female characters while female-centered novels still have a male presence to some degree.

The evidence of pronoun use and median differences tell the reader a lot about the gendered politics of literature during this time period. It is also important to note that of the literature studied, 65% of the books were from male authors, 28% were from female authors, and 7% were from unknown authors. Of course these things carry some weight regarding the results found, but if anything what we see here is evidence that literature was more gendered for men in this time period than it was for women. Overall, male pronouns were used more often than female pronouns were in both the subjective and the objective, and men are discussed more often in the literature discussed. Even though women were staring to read and write more during this time period, their representation within those texts were still far outweighed by the representation still available for men in the books circulated and being read by the general public. I think this study is really important because it highlights the ways in which literature during this time period was created with men in mind more than they were with women. It is important that this information is accessible to all those that would like to read about it as it makes known the divide that novels have so often had in the past.

“Gender Novels.” Gender in Novels, 1770–1922,

Companies Are Taking Advantage of the Chips and the Women that Make Them

“Women Who Make the Chips” by Les Levidow gave some insight into what the working conditions are like for the Malaysian women that are employed in the big cities of Western manufacturing. The trials that these women are forced to endure seem to be the newest of the oppressive and exploitations of marginalized groups and women of color.

The Malaysian women employed at these factories are forced to endure sexual harassment, horrible working conditions, and repressive schedules. Levidow writes, “In the case of the ‘microelectronics revolution’ in Malaysia, the employers’ real reasons are as transparent as they were in nineteenth-century Britain. As Intel’s Personnel Officer has admitted, ‘We hire girls because they have less energy, and are more disciplined and are easier to control.’…they certainly have had little to prepare them for the rigours of working for a Western multinational, especially the new health hazards involved—including dizziness, headaches, and worsening eyesight, as well as respiratory diseases” (Levidow, 106). The owners of these factories, or sweat shops, as they should really be called, are run by people who specifically hire women in order to take advantage of them. Because of their background and their culture, it is thought that these women will not fight for their own justifiable rights and will follow the “rules” of the workplace.

During Levidow’s research and interview process with these women, he questioned them on whether or not they ever felt the need to fight back. Thet responded, saying, “’Yes, but we wouldn’t succeed. And we wouldn’t want to create problems and be out of our jobs. Sometimes we are very vocal about it and want to fight with them. But after hearing their explanation, we are convinced by them. Sometimes we believe it is our fault’”(Levidow, 116). The women within these jobs have been desensitized and taken advantage of to the point that they are unwilling to fight for their own rights. Many of them are too scared that they will lose their jobs if they dare to speak up, and this is how the managers and the companies keep them down.

These women are also continually oppressed both inside and outside the factory. Many of the Malaysian women that come to work in the big cities are from villages that are mostly farm based, according to Levidow. Because of this, the companies will often times offer company housing where many of the female employees will live together. It may sound like a nice gesture on the company’s part, but this is simply another way that these companies keep their control over the women. A female employee named Rachel explained that, “’at the company provided house we would have to fill in forms saying when we are going out and coming back. The restrictions are very inconvenient, so I left the company house’ (Levidow, 117). Not only were the women forced to deal with horrible and unhealthy working conditions, they were also being controlled in every adjective of their lives. These oppressive tactics by the companies extended to some of the dress codes that women were expected to adhere to. Levidow writes,”While many of them choose to wear jeans and high-heeled shoes, at National Semiconductors they were actually told to wear a certain kind of miniskirt, that they had to wear it. So they did wear it, except for the fundamentalist Muslim women, many of whom quit their jobs in disgust” (Levidow, 119). These working women are being oppressed in the conditions they are forced to work but they are also being discriminated against in a sexual manner. They seem to be seen as objects to their male managers, good for nothing else other than their looks and relentless labor.

The women working in these factories are clearly being exploited and emotionally abused, yet no one will speak up for them. It is very important to call out this sickening and unjust practices. This is not okay, and we should not sit idly by while any woman, especially women of color are continually marginalized and exploited in more ways than one

Discussion Questions:

  1. In what ways do you think the chip making process further takes advantage of/exploits minorities?
  2. What other working conditions throughout history and the present does the treatment of these women remind you of?
  3. In What ways do you think these companies specifically target women of marginalized groups? How do they abuse their power over them/take advantage of them?

Levidow, Les. “The Women Who Make the Chips.” Free Association Books, 1991, pp. 103–124.

Hi, my name is Molly

I am in my junior year at SUNY Cortland and I am an English/Professional Writing major. I am from a small town called Island Park on Long Island and I am really excited to learn something new and engaging, which I’m sure this course will provide

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