[Ads-l] Possible Antedatings of the Term "Sexism"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Aug 12 16:43:47 UTC 2017

Excellent work, Fred. The senses of the pre-1968 citations listed in
the OED entry for "sexism" are unclear as Fred notes. A separate entry
for the modern sense would probably be helpful.

By 1965 advertising executive and activist Jo Foxworth was using the
term "second-sexism" within her speeches. Its meaning, I think,
overlaps the modern sense of "sexism" (although it is distinct);
hence, it may be an interesting precursor.

Date: October 18, 1965
Newspaper: The Montgomery Advertiser
Newspaper Location: Montgomery, Alabama
Article: After that
Quote Page 4, Column 1

[Begin excerpt]
An organization known as the National Council of Women in the United
Stales opened its convention in New York this week with a stirring
keynote address by Miss Jo Foxworth, an advertising executive who
spends much of her energy debunking what she calls "the myth of second

Miss Foxworth complains that today, as throughout history, writers,
artists, and minstrels persist in characterizing women as "the weaker
sex, the unfair sex, the oversexed sex, and, in total, the benighted
and accursed creature responsible—now as always—for man's downfall.

Man's mom, man's mate, man's girl child, and, in recent years, man's
competitor in the marketplace, are cast as the authors of his woes,
his frustrations, and his ultimate ruin."
[End excerpt]

Date: June 26, 1966
Newspaper: The Sun-Herald (The Sydney Morning Herald)
Newspaper Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Quote Page 78, Column 5
Article: More room at the top for the girls (By special arrangement
with Newsweek)

[Begin excerpt]
The ancient dogma of male superiority has understandably conditioned
many women against even trying to invade the executive suite.

"Most girls have been brought up on the philosophy of second-sexism,"
says Jo Foxworth, a blonde, statuesque vice-president of New York's
Calkins & Holden advertising agency.

"They don't dare to be as ambitious as they should be. They're afraid
they'll be unfeminine."

The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, set up last year
to wipe out job discrimination by race or sex, has discovered that
even many career women sometimes accept subordinate roles in business
without protest.
[End excerpt]


On Sat, Aug 12, 2017 at 11:31 AM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu> wrote:
> For the sense of the word "sexism" meaning discrimination or prejudice based on gender, the OED has several pre-1968 citations, but all of these are uncertain in their signification.  The earliest definite citation in OED, discovered by me many years ago, is dated 15 Nov. 1968.  Here is a slightly earlier definite citation:
> 1968 _New York Amsterdam News_ 9 Nov. 28 (ProQuest)  Pauli Murray ... flooded her friends with send-Shirley-Chisholm-to-Congress literature because she felt Farmer's sexism campaign "reprehensible as stooping to racism."
> On the face of this discovery, it is thus possible that Pauli Murray, who has been in the spotlight recently because Yale named one of its new colleges after her, coined the term "sexism" (the term could also have been introduced by the Amsterdam News writer rather than Murray).  However, I notice that Google Books appears to have an occurrence dated 1966 or 1967.  I am retrieving the paper source of the Google Books citation from offsite storage and therefore should have a confirmation of the 1966 or 1967 usage within a few days.
> Fred Shapiro
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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