According to the petition, posted on Change.org, the venerable publisher, which produces the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), offers a series of synonyms for woman, including "bitch, besom, piece, bit, mare, baggage, wench, petticoat, frail, bird, bint, biddy, filly."
Featuring the 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."
While the OED itself does not feature these definitions, they do appear in other reference books produced by the publisher, as well as online dictionary Lexico, which takes its content from OUP dictionaries.
"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, which campaigns for "gender equality ... at work, at home and in public life."
It continues: "These examples show women as sex objects, subordinate, and/or an irritation to men."
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."
It continues: "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