Thousands of people have signed a petition on Change.org urging Oxford University Press to change its definition of woman, which presently include “bitch, besom, piece, bit, mare, baggage, wench, petticoat, frail, bird, bint, biddy, filly.”

Under hashtags #IAmNotABitch and #SexistDictionary, the petition includes several excerpts, which it says are suggested usages of “woman.”

These include: “Ms September will embody the professional, intelligent yet sexy career woman;” “I told you to be home when I get home, little woman;” and “If that does not work, they can become women of the streets.”

“This sexist dictionary must change,” demands the petition, started in June by London-based marketing manager Maria Beatrice Giovanardi — who is also a women’s rights advocate — and the east London branch of the Fawcett Society.

“This is completely unacceptable by a reputable source like the Oxford University Press, but it’s even more worrying when you consider how much influence they have in setting norms around our language. These misogynistic definitions have become widespread because search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo license the use of Oxford Dictionaries for their definitions,” it said.

 

The petition refers to the online abuse targeted at women and says language usage must change in order to tackle this problem. It states: “We can take a serious step towards reducing the harm this is causing our young women and girls by looking at our language — and this starts with the dictionary.”

“This is completely unacceptable by a reputable source like the Oxford University Press, but it’s even more worrying when you consider how much influence they have in setting norms around our language. These misogynistic definitions have become widespread because search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo license the use of Oxford Dictionaries for their definitions.”

The petition urges Oxford University Press to eliminate all phrases and definitions that discriminate against and patronise women and/or connote men’s ownership of women; to enlarge the dictionary’s entry for ‘woman’; to include examples representative of minorities, for example, a transgender woman, a lesbian woman, etc.