Deborah Cameron (1990: 9) gives a psychological dimension to this study in the introduction of her book The Feminist Critique of Language by explaining that language, in the Lacanian tradition, is to be seen as ‘the foundation of culture’, through the acquisition of which each individual becomes a ‘cultural being’. Given that, in patriarchal orders, the phallus is the signifier, the ‘order of language is a masculine order’, thus leaving women sidelined. Dale Spender (Cameron 1990: 13) has been a thorough defender of this idea as she believes that males are made positive by semantics and grammar, ‘so that the tenets of male chauvinism are encoded in language’, leading to the exclusion of women from ‘naming and definition’. If women do not participate in the making of the language, they will not be able to feel fully at ease using it (9). Therefore, if a society is to reach gender-equality, it shall review its language to include women.
This is exemplified by Tillie Olsen (1980: 165), who tells of ‘the awkwardness (and often ridicule) if we try now to be accurate. To say: she/he, her/him, or the ungrammatical ‘they’’ is a necessary linguistic shift for her. She seems to believe that women find it hard to transgress the prescriptive and generic masculines and impose the feminisation of a sentence. Even though this was written back in 1980, such a phenomenon can still be observed today. All alternatives to the generic masculine - such as the ‘Binnen-I’, abbreviated splitting or the double specification, as listed by Marlis Hellinger (1995: 300) - that have been developed in the German language, either disturb the syntax (Neukirch 2013) or are considered to be a waste of time and money (Hellinger 1995: 300). They also remain in majority quite androcentric, given that the masculine as the root of the word does not evolve, the feminine suffix being the only addition (‘Bürger/innen’, ’LeserInnen’) (Hellinger 1995: 300). Furthermore, these forms cannot be heard whilst speaking. It is therefore complicated to find a satisfying solution which would mean that including women in speech would not be an effort. As Luise Pusch (Oltermann 2014) put it: ‘Language should be comfortable and fair. […]At the moment, German is a very comfortable language, but a very unfair one.’