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Old December 17th, 2010, 5:26 am
FleurduJardin  Female.gif FleurduJardin is offline
Join Date: 16th July 2006
Location: Shuttling between Europe & US
Posts: 1,607
Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

At one point earlier, we discusssed whether a "neutral" word (since English doesn't have feminine or masculine articles, "the" and "a" both being neutral) could have gender connotations.

This is a NY Times article which deals partly on the matter (it's a review of a book called "Through the Language Glass").

This long article can be a bit dry, but don't be discouraged. Skim through it, you'll find some interesting tidbits, such as:

"speakers do indeed, on a subconscious level, form associations between nonliving ("neuter") objects and masculine or feminine properties." [Some of us already knew this....]

This also reminds me of a discussion I had on another thread in this forum. It was about how, in the TV series Battlestar Galactica, female officers are addressed as "Sir" and not "Ma'am" (as they are, for example, in the US military, among others) and how the female president, though addressed as "Madam President", will be answered "Yes, Sir" when she gives a particularly important order.

A male debater told me that, if he were a woman, he'd be pleased to be addressed as "Sir" because that would mean he was getting as much respect as a man. I strenuously objected to this, because it showed, once again that, perhaps subconsciously, the masculine is perceived as superior to the feminine.

My whole fight about the feminization of function titles stems from that. I would like women to be considered equal to men as a matter of course, and that addressing them as "Ma'am" in no way diminishes their authority. That an actress is just as good as an actor, a queen just as powerful as a king, a heroine just as, well, heroic and admirable as a hero, a huntress as deadly as a hunter (whoever called the goddess Diana a "hunter" or worse a female hunter, or the female god of the hunt?)

Someone earlier also said he didn't think that supposedly neutral words carried gender connotations. Does he really think "male" when he hears "nurse", "prostitute" or "receptionist"? Just curious...

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