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Muted Group Theory

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Sarah Hole

on 8 December 2014

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Transcript of Muted Group Theory

Muted Group Theory
Presented By:
Ashlie Peterson and Sarah Hole

Women in Cartoons
The Theorist:
Cheris Kramarae

People belonging to low-power groups who must change their language when communicating publicly, thus, their ideas are often overlooked; e.g. women.
What is Muted Group Theory?
Seeks to explain why Certain groups within society have less of a voice than other groups.

People with little power have trouble giving voice to their perceptions because they must re-encode thoughts to make them understood in the public sphere

Three Assumptions
Kramarae found there were three assumptions when dealing with muted group theory.

Kramarae began research in 1974.
Women are portrayed as emotional, apologetic, or just plain wishy-washy.
This first assumption is that the world is different for men then it is for woman
The division of labor is what divides these differences.
Woman are generally responsible for tasks in the home
Where men are responsible to go out and make all the money
Assumption One
“Women perceive the world differently than men because of women’s and men’s different experiences and activities rooted in the division of labor.”
This second assumption is that men completely dominate in the workplace.
Men are also in charge of naming and labeling social life.
Woman's experiences are often overlooked.
This leads to woman having trouble talking about their experiences.
Assumption Two
“Because of their political dominance, men’s system of perception is dominant, impending the free expression of women’s alternative models of the world."
Until the 1970's words like sexual harassment had not come into existence.
There was not a word to describe what was going on in the work place until this language barrier was broken.
Assumption Three
“In order to participate in society, women must transform their own models in terms of the received male system of expression”
Assumption One
: Mad Men
Assumption Three:
Mad Men
Finally, Kramarae says "Woman must translate in order to participate in social life. This forces woman to not speak up and remain silent during the decision making process in fear that they will be ridiculed"
Muted Group:
Assumption Two:
Mad Men
FCKH8 Movement
Other Contributors
Dominate Group
The group that holds power in any given culture.
The Process of Silencing
Women's speech is trivialized
- Social rituals silence women
- Men control decisions
- Women don't have free access to public spaces.
The Cultural Anthropologist:
Edwin and Shirley Ardener

"Belief and Problem of Women"
Assumed that the inattention to women's experience was incidental
But realized that mutedness is due to lack of power that plagues any group at the low end of the totem pole.
As a result, they are often overlooked, muffled and rendered invisible.
For the past 35 years, Kramarae has been the leader in the effort to explain and alter the muted status of women and other marginalized group
This type of male dominance is just one of many ways that women are rendered inarticulate in our society.
Men statements are forcefull and simple.
important extensions:
“Muting” can also be applied to many cultural groups
There is more than one way to deal with being muted
Mark Orbe
A communication theorist, extended Kramarae’s work in MGT to also include African-American males (and other groups that are made up of various cultures)
Exercise on Language

1. The Card you recieved tells you when you are allowed to talk

2. We will be listing all the terms you can think of to list 1st words you would call a sexually loose Woman and then terms you would call a Man

3. Anything goes do not be afraid to speak

The Power of Language
-Non-dominant groups have trouble expressing themselves accurately because language was created by
Men for Men
therefore giving men an advantage.

-Language is
neutral; all words have connotations
MGT in Today's Society
Feminism Movement
Equal rights for all
Bridging the gaps
LGBTQIA Community
Awareness Movements
Muted groups are not completely silent,
The issue is whether people can say what they want where and when they want to say it.
22 gender-related words to label men who are sexually loose
playboy, stud, rake, gigolo, player, Don Juan, lothario, womanizer

More than 200 words to label loose women
slut, whore, hooker, mistress, harlot, Jezebel, hussy, streetwalker, easy lay
Saphi-Whorf hypothesis: Language shapes our perception of reality.
Muted groups may come to doubt the validity of their experience and the legitimacy of their feelings.
"Good-ole-boys" establishment that has virtually excluded women's art, poetry, plays, film scripts, public address and scholarly essays from society's mass media.
Why is the language this way?
Some believed the advent of the internet would curb male gatekeeping.

Kramarae notes, most leading computer scientists were male and masculine terms such as information highway and new frontier appeared.
The Potential of the Internet
Proposes that "women perceive the world differently from men because of women’s and men’s different experience and activities rooted in the division of labor"

Agreed with Ardener that mutedness is due to the lack of power but believes women are perceived as not only less powerful, but also as a group who do not speak the same language as men.
Women do speak out in forums
Test of Time
Full transcript