One Poet Wonders If You Notice These Sexist And Oppressive Nuances In The English Language

"Isn't it funny how English works?"

Jennifer Nicole might be getting a Ph.D. in English, but that doesn't stop her from challenging the language.

The student, who also happens to be a poet, recently performed "On the Contradictions of English," as part of Write About Now Poetry, a collective of poets in Houston.


Nicole's poem is more of a conversation as she starts off talking about why she hated learning English grammar growing up.

"I have a theory," she said in the piece. "Teachers never explain the reasons behind the grammar because they know it will instill students with the kind of power that would allow us to force the contradictions of English to crack through the surfaces of our grammar books."

She then goes on to discuss how educators have always encouraged the use of active voice in sentences. But from Nicole's perspective, society does the exact opposite. She cites how women who are assaulted, minority groups who are overlooked, and people who are displaced from their home country are always referred to in the passive voice, instead of in the active voice where blame can be placed on someone else.

And that's just one example of Nicole's view on English language contradictions. Just recently, Louisiana's Senate Committee rejected the use of LGBTQ-friendly language in its marriage laws.

But as Nicole ends her poem, she asks hard-hitting questions about the English language that leaves the audience wanting more.

"Isn't it funny how English works?" she said. "How a simple switch of syntax can assert or dismiss culpability? How those who make the rules are the only ones not held accountable for their effects?"

Watch the entirety of Nicole's piece below:

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