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Ostomy Memories on Gender Purging

 

IT HAS BEEN EVIDENT of late that actresses are no longer to be called actresses. They are ACTORS. Somehow any reference to femaleness is now deemed crass, insensitive, and misogynistic. Still, I have the sneaky suspicion that were I to beckon a female server in a restaurant with the name “waiter” I’d get a dirty look. My admittedly old-fashioned perspective on restaurant workers distinguishes waiters from waitresses and if facing up to obvious differences in gender is politically incorrect, I plead no contest (since I feel no actual guilt).
Our language is constantly undergoing change and I recognize that, although I don’t usually like the result. To me it’s more often deterioration than mere alteration. When the word “like” became an accepted and overused punctuation mark, I knew we were on an unalterable downward slope toward philological collapse. If that means that I am a linguistic elitist, well then, I plead no contest to that too.
As we are painfully learning these days, words matter. We are judged by our language and our recognition that how we say things often matters as much as what we say. All the gender neutralizing of the English language will produce less consciousness raising than perplexed snickering. The whole idea of language, after all, is to communicate, and if the word “actress” communicates more meaningfully than “actor” when describing, say, Scarlett Johansson, than I vote for that.
As Richard Dawkins wrote with respect to gendered pronouns: “He or she must ask himself or herself whether his or her sense of style could ever allow himself or herself to write like this.”

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Hello HenryM.


Thank you for raising such an issue, which seems so much more important than other things that have been going on in the world recently.
I particularly would like to draw attention to the term ‘erm’:
It has come to my attention that the term ‘erm’, as a precursor to many verbal sentences, is being supplanted by the word ‘so’.
I also understand that languages evolve and the term ‘erm’ did, after all, replace the less-than audible ‘mmm’ then 'err' 
It could, of course, be argued that we have now progressed to a word (so) that is at least listed in the English dictionary (although not legitimated as an irrelevant introduction to a longer sentence) and therefore could be viewed as marginally more acceptable than swearwords.
Surely, sometimes there is a logical reason for complete silence, rather than trying to fill the gap with nonsensical verbal utterances. Might I suggest that, if, prior to starting a conversation, we simply paused while collecting our thoughts, then our subsequent conversations might be viewed as worth listening to.


Beware! - of possible perceived ‘political’ content within the rhyme below:
Best wishes
Bill

GENDER BLENDER.

There’s actors and there’s actresses,
there’s waiters and there’s waitresses,
depicting male and female roles
and hinting at gender controls.

In language, when the genders blend,
males are dominant in the end,
but it’s not just expedient
that females are subservient.

For those of you who do not know,
language supports the status quo,
by framing concepts so that they
seem like the truth that linguists say.

Our language favours the male form,
its dominance has been the norm,
so, as our language has evolved
inequities have not been solved.


Thus, as our language forms and grows
it’s leading people by the nose,
to think the way that ‘they’ believe,
and not to think that they deceive.

In the examples that I gave,
the female format faced the grave,
whilst the male version was retained
so, status quo would be maintained.

In our household, we gender-blend
so, any words we use will send
the message of equality,
not one where there’s disparity.

There is no imbalance of powers,
this ‘his and hers’ has become ‘ours’.
And in the ways we think and act
we are cognisant of this fact.

                                          B. Withers 2021

 
Bill wrote:

Hello HenryM.


Thank you for raising such an issue, which seems so much more important than other things that have been going on in the world recently.
I particularly would like to draw attention to the term ‘erm’:
It has come to my attention that the term ‘erm’, as a precursor to many verbal sentences, is being supplanted by the word ‘so’.
I also understand that languages evolve and the term ‘erm’ did, after all, replace the less-than audible ‘mmm’ then 'err' 
It could, of course, be argued that we have now progressed to a word (so) that is at least listed in the English dictionary (although not legitimated as an irrelevant introduction to a longer sentence) and therefore could be viewed as marginally more acceptable than swearwords.
Surely, sometimes there is a logical reason for complete silence, rather than trying to fill the gap with nonsensical verbal utterances. Might I suggest that, if, prior to starting a conversation, we simply paused while collecting our thoughts, then our subsequent conversations might be viewed as worth listening to.


Beware! - of possible perceived ‘political’ content within the rhyme below:
Best wishes
Bill

GENDER BLENDER.

There’s actors and there’s actresses,
there’s waiters and there’s waitresses,
depicting male and female roles
and hinting at gender controls.

In language, when the genders blend,
males are dominant in the end,
but it’s not just expedient
that females are subservient.

For those of you who do not know,
language supports the status quo,
by framing concepts so that they
seem like the truth that linguists say.

Our language favours the male form,
its dominance has been the norm,
so, as our language has evolved
inequities have not been solved.


Thus, as our language forms and grows
it’s leading people by the nose,
to think the way that ‘they’ believe,
and not to think that they deceive.

In the examples that I gave,
the female format faced the grave,
whilst the male version was retained
so, status quo would be maintained.

In our household, we gender-blend
so, any words we use will send
the message of equality,
not one where there’s disparity.

There is no imbalance of powers,
this ‘his and hers’ has become ‘ours’.
And in the ways we think and act
we are cognisant of this fact.

                                          B. Withers 2021

RE your comment about silence being best sometimes... that brings to mind a quote by Mark Twain:  "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

 

Take notice that the Academy Awards still maintain a "Best Actress" award. Who didn't want that changed? The women "actors."

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