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

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Mon Aug 21 18:44:21 UTC 2017

I looked at the hard-copy source of the Google Books occurrence of "sexism" in 1966 or 1967, but it turns out that this is another pre-1968 citation where the meaning of "sexism" cannot be definitely ascertained.

Fred Shapiro

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
Sent: Saturday, August 12, 2017 11:31 AM
Subject: Possible Antedatings of the Term "Sexism"

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

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