View Single Post
Old December 21st, 2010, 7:52 pm
FleurduJardin  Female.gif FleurduJardin is offline
Join Date: 16th July 2006
Location: Shuttling between Europe & US
Posts: 1,607
Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

Originally Posted by MmeBergerac View Post
Well, that was source of a lot of controversy during the Middle Ages,too... In Spain we have the phrase 'argue about the gender of angels' to refer a long discussion that's doomed to take nowhere.
It's the same in French.

I can't stand the "actors and actresses", "boys and girls" discourse to refer a mixed group of people. It kills my patience, I can't help feeling it a waste of words and breath.
I agree about a "group of actors" meaning actors of both sexes, but I'm puzzled by your "boys and girls" example. Would you call them all "boys" even when there are girls in the group, or would you say "a group of young people"?

And the obsession that all words with a female meaning have to end in -a and that any word that doesn't means male (I'm talking of Spanish). For instance, there's that mania of calling female judges juezas, while everyone agrees that it would be ridiculous to call male journalists periodistos. The day I graduate I'll entitle myself as ingeniero though I'm a girl, and I think people should be more worried about my planes flying properly than wether the final letter of my title is an -a or an -o.
Yes, "periodista" meaning journalist of either sex is one exception in Spanish. Like I learned that the adjective for Vietnamese was "vietnamita" and invariable, whatever the gender of the subject.

In French, a sentry is "une sentinelle", and a military courier is "une estafette" with the article in the feminine, whether the person is male or female. The exception that confirms the rule, I guess.

Originally Posted by Melaszka View Post
Well, you know how I feel about this, so we will have to agree to disagree.
Yes, we already agreed to disagree.

Moreover, my arguments are really founded on the fact that I'm basing myself more on the French language than on the English one.

It just seems to me that often the -ess and -ix endings have been used in the past to stigmatise and trivialise women trying to pursue "traditionally" male careers and to imply that they are doing something different and lesser than a man doing the same job (in some circumstances still the case - some opponents of women priests insist on calling them "priestesses", drawing on both the pagan and the diminutive connotations of the word to try to paint the idea of a woman priest as an absurdity).
I disagree with the feminine ending being patronizing in all cases, and I see nothing wrong with using "priestess". In the cases where it is perceived to be down-putting and patronizing, I feel that using it more would take the negative connotation away.

That also reminds me of a science fiction series where the highest authority in a certain religion is called "the Son of the Sun". When a woman did get to that rank for the first time in the history of that religion, she was also called "Son" (and not daughter) of the Sun. That drove me nuts.

But we already agreed to disagree on it, so I won't repeat my arguments.

I'm with you all the way on the Sir/Ma'am thing, though.
Hurray for that!

But don't you see, it just confirms what I was saying, and what I'm fighting against - that the male form of address, or a masculine noun, is always perceived to be superior, and that using the feminine form, if widespread enough, would eliminate that perception of inequality.

It's the same argument you used for the opposite, actually. That when there are enough women doctors, police officers, etc., and people acknowledge that there are male nurses and male prostitutes, the perception will change. As you said, our objectives are the same, but the ways we think those objectives can be reached are diametrically opposite.

And, to go back to the idea of definitions of Feminism, I don't think that someone who insists on calling women who act "actresses" or someone who insists on calling them "actors" is necessarily a feminist or not a feminist - it all depends on their reasons.
Well, in my case my reason is a feminist one - but I see your point too. Back to agreeing to disagree.

Last edited by FleurduJardin; December 21st, 2010 at 7:57 pm. Reason: Typo
Sponsored Links