What’s in a word?

The french word genre, in its most common usage means ‘type, sort’.

It is used as such in English to talk about an artistic style, mainly a cinema style. For example the ‘horror genre’…And in French it is also used to talk about ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ within grammar; as you may know, French nouns are either one or the other.

In recent years the word has also been used as a translation of the English ‘gender’ specifically in the context of ‘gender studies’. Indeed, if you open  a French dictionary, it is the word sexe which is normally used to describe whether a human being is male or female. When a baby is born we ask of what sexe it is.

Speaking of sexual identity….
Some people in France are currently quite anxious about the idea of a so-called ‘gender theory’. In reality, no such theory exists. They are confusing it with ‘gender studies‘.
Here is the context: the French government has introduced equality programs within schools aiming to educate children about gender equality. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation about the subject and individuals with extreme-right leanings have circulated rumours that the government wants to teach ‘gender theory’ at school  in order to erase any differences between boys and girls, between what’s masculine and feminine. Which would, in turn, lead to the downfall of traditional family and society etc etc….

Here is the article from Le Monde, explaining this current social problem.

You will notice that the  word ‘gender’ or the expression ‘gender studies’ are used quite a lot in English within the French text. The concept is originally anglo-saxon and therefore using the English expression is more appropriate than the literal French translation.

However to help you navigate through this article, here are few key words:

  • Intox: short for intoxication. Translates as ‘misinformation’
  • Beur: slang for arab.
  • Fantasme: fantasy
  • Escroqurie: thievery
  • Mixité: equal balance of men and women
  • Sensibilisation: act of raising awareness

*note that in modern speech the word genre is used as a synonim of comme, which means ‘like’. You might hear people (myself included) peppering their speech with ‘likes’. It’s like. it’s alright. Like. people need to relax about gender.

Interesting how, depending on the context, a word can be so charged and in turn so harmless.