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Gender-Inclusive Language

The following two-part discussion of gender-inclusive/exclusive language took 
place on WMST-L in July 1995.  For additional WMST-L files on the Web, see the
WMST-L File List.


Date: Sat, 8 Jul 1995 20:55:26 -0800
From: Shaula Evans <sevans @ AWINC.COM>
Subject: silencing girls/women with language
The message below is part of an ongoing exchange I am involved in about
gender inclusive/exclusive language on a consultant's discussion list.
This is one of those times when I am drawing a complete blank on how to
reply.  If you, or anyone you know of has any suggestions for how to
respond, please have them contact me, and I will be very happy to forward a
resonse under their name.
Thank you!
Shaula Evans
sevans  @  awinc.com
>Date:         Tue, 4 Jul 1995 12:07:49 -0700
>Reply-To:     Consultant's discussion list <CONS-L  @  VM1.MCGILL.CA>
>Sender:       Consultant's discussion list <CONS-L  @  VM1.MCGILL.CA>
>From:         Kevin Nelson <nelson  @  NORTHCOAST.COM>
>Subject:      Re: Does gender or language make a leader?
>X-To:         Consultant's discussion list <CONS-L  @  VM1.MCGILL.CA>
>To:           Multiple recipients of list CONS-L <CONS-L  @  VM1.MCGILL.CA>
>Personally, considering that language is meant as a means of communication,
>gender differences just have to be accepted. So if I was writing a book on
>management, I would tend to side with the general usage of the
>all-encompassing masculine pronouns. But then, in specific examples, I would
>use women and the properly corresponding feminine pronouns.
>But I wonder if this is really an "oversensitivity". Do most women feel left
>out of a text that predominantly uses the general sense masculine pronoun,
>or is it just a few vocal radical feminists?
>I personally think that any inspired female leader, unless she was leading a
>feminist movement, would be a fool if she rejected anything that didn't
>conform to her own standard of language usage. That would be almost like
>Hitler commanding his troops to ignor anyone who wasn't wearing a swastika,
>simply because that person could not be a true soldier. Radical feministic
>ideals and leadership goals simply can't exist side-by-side. The leader that
>loses his ability to look at the world objectively has already opened
>himself for defeat.

Date: Sun, 9 Jul 1995 13:18:07 -0400
From: "ERINA M. MORIARTY" <emoriart @ OSF1.GMU.EDU>
Subject: Re: silencing girls/women with language
On Sat, 8 Jul 1995, Shaula Evans wrote:
        [see above for message]
Merry Meet!
     I am not by any means a "vocal radical feminist,"  at least not
vocal & I don't think I am radical.  So, as an average women living on the
verge on the 21st century I do strongly feel a need for gender neutral
language.  The English language _does_  actually supply us with these
pronouns. The only problem is that they are plural.  They, them, their, etc.
were once upon a time used as both singular & plural.  Our problem today
is convincing high school grammar teachers that it is better to say,
"Should someone ask you for change, tell them no."  rather  than
"Should someone ask you for change, tell him no."
I realize many will not agree to my preference for using plural pronouns
(which used to be used as singular or plural) over the masculine or
"s/he" type pronouns,  which I not yet figured out to pronounce :)
Merry part, merry meet again,
Erina Moriarty   )0(
emoriart  @  osf1.gmu.edu

Date: Sun, 9 Jul 1995 13:37:28 LCL
Subject: A Few Vocal Radical Feminists
A person asks whether the desire for gender neutral language is just a
desire of a few vocal radical feminists.
Without addressing the language question, I urge you to consider this:
Suppose <some demand> _IS_ "just" the demand of a small, vocal,
radical minority.  That doesn't mean that it isn't right.  Nor does
the fact that a view is held by "the majority" or even "the
mainstream" make it right, or make opposing views wrong.
The (mainstream) majority once believed that slavery in the USA was an
acceptable institution.  It was only a few vocal radical fringe
minority groups who were claiming it was wrong.  But they were right;
it WAS wrong.
The (mainstream) majority once thought that there was no need for
women, indigenous peoples, slaves, or poor people (without property)
to be "allowed" to vote in a Constitutional Democracy.  Only a few
radicals advocated ANY, let alone ALL of those changes.
I urge people with any sense of hope for political change to continue
to believe that the minority CAN be *RIGHT* and the majority can be
wrong.  And then I urge scholars to do the *right* thing, regardless
of whether it is the most widely advocated thing, at any given time
and place.  Isn't this the whole reason why academic tenure is
important? So that we can feel free to do HONEST research and writing,
according to our best understandings of rigor and ethics and academic
responsibility --- and not simply make scholarly choices out of fear
of displeasing some (possibly temporary) majority?
----------- Ruth Ginzberg (rginzberg  @  eagle.wesleyan.edu) ------------

Date: Sun, 9 Jul 1995 11:07:27 -0700
From: Coleen Maheu <cbm-tlb @ IX.NETCOM.COM>
Subject: Re: silencing girls/women with language
Language both reflects and shapes our culture.
We live in a patriarchal world that values men over women.  Our
language is a reflection of of these values.
Perhaps...even more nefarious is our language's ability to create
culture.  Studies prove that young girls are less likely to consider
occupations designated by masculine pronouns.
The concept of generic masculine pronouns is a myth.  The cover of one
of last year's issues of Time Magazine read..."How Man Began?"
Consequently, the entire article incorporated this male rhetoric.  All
of the illustrations were blatantly masculine.  And the only reference
to women was Lucy.  The article spoke of man, the tool maker, man the
fire maker, etc, etc, etc.
Now when I hear the word man I think of a man.  I think it must be
extremely difficult (if not impossible) to separate the image of a male
from its corresponding masculine title/pronoun/name/etc.  When I hear
the word fireman...a man comes to mind.
Indeed women have been swallowed by male-centered language.  It is up
to us to change our language.  Language is not static. We must use our
language to empower both genders.  We can only do this through the use
of gender neutral language.
Coleen maheu
cbm-tlb  @  ix.netcom.com

Date: Sun, 09 Jul 1995 15:24:50 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Suzanne F. Franks" <sfranks @ GALOIS.NMR.FCCC.EDU>
Subject: silencing girls/women with language
In reply to Shaula Evans' forwarding of a conversation
on inclusive/exclusive language:
If your conversation partners are REALLY wondering
>women feel left out of a text that predominantly
>uses the general sense masculine pronouns
why not ask them how they might feel reading a text that uses
predominantly feminine pronouns?  Is it too trivial to
suggest pointing out the oddity of the phrasing
"general sense masculine?"
I am probably not what some people would call a
vocal radical feminist, though I am sure I am more
vocal and radical than a lot of conservatives would
prefer.  I do feel very isolated from texts that use
masculine pronouns for the general case, especially
when that text is purporting to be inclusive or, even
worse, directed at women.  My favorite example:
a medical text for a class I once took, discussing
some aspect of physiology/immunology related
specifically to women and their reproductive systems,
leads in to discussion of a research result with this
phrase "In man, it is seen that..."  Obviously man
is not at all appropriate here, and "In humans" would
have been a better choice, "In women," the best choice
of all.
But what about situations where it is not so obvious
that "man" or "him" is totally inappropriate, where
man is meant to read human and him is meant to read
him/her?  These texts leave me feeling lonely and not
included.  However this is a result of my having become
aware that these words which are "supposed" to include
me do not really include me.
Would I have been better off had feminism not made me aware
of this, so that I could have gone on feeling included?
NO!  Because it required a considerable effort to
pretend that I was a man in order to feel included,
or to keep reminding myself as I read that I am
meant to be included, even if that pretending was going
on unconsciously in me.
Perhaps one might ask why people who oppose inclusive language
are so anxious to request that women keep putting out this
intensive effort to feel included by masculine pronouns.
I was so dumbfounded by the comparison of
feminists not wanting to read texts using exclusive language
to Hitler
 >commanding his troops to ignore anyone who wasn't
>wearing a swastika, simply because that person could not be
>a true soldier.
  The mere juxtaposition of these two
hypotheticals leaves me breathless.
Anyway, I don't think that calls for inclusive language
necessarily imply that we refuse to read any texts that
don't use inclusive language.  We ARE saying that we find
it more difficult and distressing to read exclusive language
>The leader that loses his ability to look at the world
>objectively has already opened himself for defeat.
In this case, I might suggest (tongue in cheek) that the
choice of masculine pronouns was perfectly appropriate,
since it seems to me that insisting that masculine = all humans
is not a terribly objective position to occupy.
Finally, in reply to the assertion that
>radical feministic ideals and leadership goals
>simply can't exist side-by-side.
Point the author of this statement back to his/her own
Hitler analogy.  There was someone with some pretty
radical ideals, and those ideals didn't seem to impede
his leadership goals at all.  Radical ideals of ANY kind
can be promoted with the appropriate leadership skills and
access to/control of the media.
It seems radical to me to ask one-half of the population to
feel included by language that specifically refers to the
other one-half of the population, and yet that effort has
been rather successful.
Sorry for the length of this communication, I just feel so
ANNOYED by this topic and particularly by opponents of
inclusive language clothing themselves in objectivity, the
sacred word used as a shield to repel any critique
as "emotional" or "oversensitive."
Shaula, feel free to forward my comments to your conversation
partners if you like.
Suzanne Franks
sfranks  @  galois.fccc.edu

Date: Sun, 09 Jul 1995 14:06:25 -0700
From: Carolyn Austin <eahu436 @ EA.OAC.UCI.EDU>
Subject: silencing girls/women with language
I certainly do feel excluded from a text that uses only the masculine
pronoun.  I would suggest that one is reading much more objectively when
she believes herself to be excluded from "he" and "him."  It takes a much
greater act of imagination and projection to believe that masculine
pronouns can in fact include feminine readers.
More importantly, however, I'm very troubled by your correspondant's use
of the Nazi metaphor.  Is this some sort of literalization of Limbaugh's
feminazis?  Is that what secretly authorizes the comparision between
Hitler and feminists?
Carolyn Austin
Department of English and Comparative Literature
University of California, Irvine
cfaustin  @  uci.edu

Date: Sun, 09 Jul 1995 22:33:47 +0100
From: Judy Evans <jae2 @ UNIX.YORK.AC.UK>
Subject: silencing girls/women with language
On Sun, 9 Jul 1995, ERINA M. MORIARTY wrote:
[see above for Moriarty's message]
I have the answer if I can locate the book - don't hold your breath... -
an expert has just written the account of how the c19 Oxford grammarians
made it all up... .  'They' is indeed perfectly all right.
(Also I have some examples from an exchange on another list.  But again
it is a matter of finding them.
Judy Evans       +       Politics       +       jae2  @  york.ac.uk

Date: Sun, 09 Jul 1995 19:23:14 -0400
From: "Virginia T. Bemis" <vbemis @ ASHLAND.EDU>
Subject: silencing girls/women with language
While we're on the subject of whether "man" is an inclusive term, and
whether we're being too sensitive when we object to it, let's consider
the single most pervasive use of the term "man" or "men".  It's one most
people see a great many times in the course of the day.
Walk down the hall where you work, folks.   Somewhere there are two
little rooms full of plumbing.  One says "men" on the door.  Go ahead,
somebody, tell me that includes "women".  Try and convince me it's an
inclusive term when the most common use is to exclude.
Repetition makes familiarity.  When "men" means Keep Out: This Means You,
and everybody knows it, thinking gets conditioned.
Sorry about the length, but the subject has me pissed off.
Virginia Bemis            voice: 419 289-5120
English Department
Ashland University
Ashland, OH 44805
vbemis  @  ashland.edu

Date: Sun, 09 Jul 1995 21:48:09 -0400
From: Laura Zick <ians519 @ VELCOME.IUPUI.EDU>
Subject: silencing girls/women with language
This issue can also be looked at in terms of grammatical
accuracy:  the use of the generic masculine is NOT accurate.
I have to laugh when academia, which purports to
demand accuracy, instead rejects gender-inclusive language.
Perhaps we should poll the men in our lives and ask
them "does it peeve you when the world uses words like womanned
spacecraft, mailwomen, firewomen, womankind and insist that
these terms include you?  If you are offended by this,
are you a radical, vocal advocate of men's rights?"
I so strongly agree with the poster who reminded us that the
majority is often wrong.  We owe our rights to vote, obtain
birth control, and own property (etc....ad nausem) to women
and men who were viewed in their times as lunatic fringe.
-laura zick
a thankfully and happily radical vocal feminist!

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 00:22:26 -0400
From: Constance J Ostrowski <ostroc @ RPI.EDU>
Subject: silencing girls/women with language
In the midst of creating a midterm exam for the course on "Language, Women,
and Gender" which I'm teaching this summer, I read the post about which
Shaula asked for input.  Having finished making up the exam (and strongly
fired up), I will now respond:
The poster's reference to "all-encompassing masculine pronouns" makes clear
that the poster has bought into this myth, this piece of linguistic
folklore (unfortunately perpetuated by many English teacher who have been
so taught by, especially the 20th century usage guides which helped
perpetrate the prescribed use of the generic "man"/"he").
Casey Miller and Kate Swift, in their classic _Words & Women_ (updated ed.,
HarperCollins, 1991), deal with this issue, including in their discussion
references to sociolinguistic studies on the confusion children experience
by the ambiguity of generic uses of man/he.  They also point out contra-
dictions in people's use of it (eg., their reference to Erich Fromm's
description of man's needs as "life, food, access to females"--pp.28-29).
While they also go into the etymology of "man," Dennis Baron deals with this
subject in much greater detail in his _Grammar and Gender_ (Yale UP, 1986).
In addition, he demonstrates how comments about language made by (usually
male) authorities over the last 200-300 years were arguments for the
"naturalness" and moral correctness of such usages as generic "man"/"he";
these arguments, many of them proceeding from faulty (in many cases, circular)
etymologizing, were based on the belief and supposed proved the "fact" that
men are made superior to women.
Beyond these two sources, and among several others, are Wendy Martyna's
"Beyond the He/Man Approach" (_Signs_ 5(1980):482-93) and Dale Spender's
_Man Made Language_ (Pandora, 1990).
Some of these sources also make clear that it is not just "vocal, radical
feminist"--and a minority to boot--who feel left out.  Many of the women
students in my class--of whom only one identified herself as "feminist"--
have expressed great discomfort with the generic use of "man."  While the
poster phrased this concern as a question, the belief in some radical
(irrational? hysterical?) feminists' "oversensitivity" is obvious.
Regarding the issue of majority/minority, I agree with Ruth Ginzberg's
comments on the relationship of majority/minority and right/wrong. And even
though the poster gravely underestimates the number of women (and men)
who object to the generic use of "man," we do have to remember that a
statistical minority *can* effect language change:  as we discussed in
my class, how often does anyone (at least in the U.S.) hear the word
"Negro" used to refer to people of African descent?   In the sixties,
African-Americans worked for the self-determination of label change (and,
from my perspective, have had much more success in this than women have
with the title "Ms").
I'd referred earlier to the self-contradiction, the lack of logical
consistency, in the generic use of "man"/"he":  in similar ways, the poster
displayed self-contradiction, especially in the very disturbing final
paragraph of the post which Shaula forwarded.  (The poster might also want
to rethink the use of the phrase "gender differences" in the first
paragraph, where it is quite imprecise and inaccurate.)
I hope this helps, Shaula.
Connie Ostrowski
ostroc  @  rpi.edu

Date: Sun, 09 Jul 1995 22:38:03 -0700
From: Katheen Drew <psu02880 @ ODIN.CC.PDX.EDU>
Subject: silencing girls/women with language
I recently heard Ursula LeGuin read an essay that has yet to be
published.  She started with the assertion that she is a man and
recommends you take her seriously.  As evidence of this, she notes that
she is a writer, and a writer knows which side *his* bread is buttered
on.  She admits to not being a very good man, but a man never the less.
Woman is only a recent invention.  Not that it hadn't been invented
before. Just never got on.  You had you Gertrude Stein model and your
Emily Dickinson model....  Now it is too late.  While she has been busy
trying to be a man, she has become an old woman and old woman has not
been invented yet.
Kathy Drew

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 08:30:17 -0400 (EDT)
From: Jeanette Heinrichs <JHEINRK @ UKCC.UKY.EDU>
Subject: silencing girls/women with language
I have often wondered that rather than thinking "woman" is a word that is a
derivative of "man", we can look at "woman" also including "man" in a way "man"
 does not include women.  So with this in mind, would it not be appropriate
to go a step beyond gender neutral, and use "woman" as the universal pronoun?
This whole insistence on the masculine "he" to represent all humans always
annoys and baffles me as well.  Good luck with your discussion.
                                                    Jeanette Heinrichs
                                                     (jheinrk  @  ukcc.uky.edu)

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 02:20:43 -0400
From: Shahnaz C Saad <saad @ DOLPHIN.UPENN.EDU>
Subject: silencing girls/women with language
The problem with generic male nouns and pronouns is that they  aren't really
generic. Some might argue thet "men" refers to both males and females,
but to readers and listeners, "men" usually means only  males.  Consider
the following sentence: "the article is about the development of the
uterus in rats, guinea pigs, and men." This sentence sounds absurd. Why?
It sounds absurd because when we think of "men" we think only of *males*.
I therefore think we should abandon use of the "generic" male noun and
Just my 2 cents...
Chris Saad
saad  @  dolphin.upenn.edu

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 11:41:15 +0100
From: "J. Van Every" <soa00 @ CC.KEELE.AC.UK>
Subject: gender inclusive language
I seem to remember reading somewhere that women are more likely than men to
actually treat the (so-called) neutral masculine as neutral. The problem is
not just that girls don't think they can do those jobs. It is that men don't
think they can either. And men do most of the hiring and promoting.
Jo VanEvery
Keele University
soa00  @  cc.keele.ac.uk

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 08:27:37 -0400
From: Elliott Anathema <Writerdyke @ AOL.COM>
Subject: gender inclusive language
The problems with sexism/heterosexism in English go way beyond questions of
vocabulary--sexism is built into the way the language is structured, and the
very concepts each of us uses to describe ideas about language. For the best
discussion of this, see linguist/lesbian theorist Julia Penelope's excellent
book _Speaking Freely_.
writerdyke  @  aol.com

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 09:11:27 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: silencing girls/women with language
Language is terribly important. I have two points: 1) when should female be use
d and when woman as an adjective? Why are there female physicians and then all
  the rest of the physicians? Shouldn't female be saved for genitalia and anima
ls?  2) as a woman in the beginning of the feminist wave in medical school (197
3-78) everything was phrased in "he". At times (and I really am secure in  my w
omanhood) I would put myself into the "he" - when they showed resident housing,
 I thought - what a nice place for my wife - what my wife?!? wake up - everythi
ng there is He, and it causes you to think you are the OTHER, the ALIEN.rosenfe
j  @  etsu.east-tenn-st.edu

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 10:27:56 -0500
From: Von Bakanic <BAKANICV @ COFC.EDU>
Subject: Lunatic fringe my foot!
There are two things about the discussion about gender and language that
are disturbing.  First, I am a Radical Feminist and I am not a lunatic!!!
I adhere to the theory of radical feminism which locates the root of gender
oppression and the difference in women's and men's views of the world in
their relationship to the means of reproduction.  This theory has been
around for quite a number of years, is well developed theoreticall and
makes a lot of sense.  Second, Nazism and Facism are the anti-thesis of
Radical Feminism.  Femi-Nazi is and oxymoron.  It still surprises me how
many of my women's study students believe it is a legitimate variety of
feminism and that there are groups that identify themselves with that name.
As far as I can discern there is not a single feminst theory that would
disagree that language conveys sexism.  Liberal, socialist, separtist and
radical feminist agree that language shapes our perceptions.  The lunatic
position would be to deny that affect and to assume that women would not
feel exclude by the sole use of masculine pronouns to refer to both women's
and men's activities.
Von Bakanic, Ph.D.                           (803) 953-7105
Dept. of Sociology                           internet address:
College of Charleston                        bakanicv  @  cofc.edu
Charleston, S.C. 29424                       FAX (803) 953-5738

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 10:36:04 -0400
Subject: silencing girls/women with language
one thing to do is to tell the person to substitute feminine pronouns for
masculine ones in their conversations and correspondance for one day and
see if it makes a difference in how they see things. try writing a "dear
mam' letter instead of dear sir and see how that makes you feel.
Dr. Jane Elza   jelza  @  grits.valdosta.peachnet.edu
Political Science Dept., Valdosta State University
Valdosta, Ga. 31698

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 08:05:04 -0700
From: Kris Nelson <krisn @ U.WASHINGTON.EDU>
Subject: silencing girls/women with language
On Sun, 9 Jul 1995, Laura Zick wrote:
> This issue can also be looked at in terms of grammatical
> accuracy:  the use of the generic masculine is NOT accurate.
> I have to laugh when academia, which purports to
> demand accuracy, instead rejects gender-inclusive language.
I would definitely agree with this. As a male in this society, I find the
use of the "generic" masculine irritating, partially for this reason. It
just seems ridiculous to use this construct, when it is so blatantly
incorrect. It might have been more accurate at one time, but it obviously
is not so anymore.
And I feel a distinct degree of exclusion from the use of the masculine
myself, because while I don't feel it directed at *me* I still feel it.
And it makes me uncomfortable. It also makes me lose a great deal of
respect for the person. I can't help thinking: so, did they just miss
half the population or what?  Can't be a very accurate study (or whatever)!
> Perhaps we should poll the men in our lives and ask
> them "does it peeve you when the world uses words like womanned
> spacecraft, mailwomen, firewomen, womankind and insist that
> these terms include you?  If you are offended by this,
> are you a radical, vocal advocate of men's rights?"
Peeved? Not exactly. Depends on situation, but I do *not* feel included by
the term. I feel a distinct degree of separation, which is generally the
I suppose my having my eyes opened by friends and books helps me here,
but it really just seems obvious. I almost can't believe this debate
still rages.
Kris Nelson   krisn  @  u.washington.edu   http://weber.u.washington.edu/krisn
CHID/English Major                     Comparative History of Ideas Staff
U of Wash, Seattle                     UWired FIG #7 Peer Adviser
                                       CHID 110 Peer Facilitator
  "Words create worlds" -- unknown

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 11:25:13 -0500
From: Katy Milligan <kmilli @ CCAT.SAS.UPENN.EDU>
Subject: argument for gender-neutral language
This issue comes up with depressing regularity in introductory composition
courses.  In the past I have looked at the introductions to style guides
and writing handbooks to help me construct my argument for gender-neutral
language as effectively as possible.  The _MLA Handbook_ has a couple of
paragraphs on the topic in the "language and style" section, and also lists
the following reference books:
American Psychological Association.  "Guidelines to Reduce Bias in
Language."  _Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association_.
4th ed. Washington:  Amer. Psychological Assn., 1994.  46-60.
Frank, Francine Wattman, and Paula A. Treichler, with others.
_Language,Gender, and Professional Writing:  Theoretical Approaches and
Guidelines for Nonsexist Usage_.  New York:  MLA, 1989.
International Association of Business Communication.  _Without Bias:  A
Guidebook for Nondiscriminatory Communication_.  Ed. J.E. Pickens, P.W.
Rao, and L.C. Roberts.  2nd ed.  New York:  Wiley, 1982.
Maggio, Rosalie.  _The Nonsexist Word Finder:  A Dictionary of Gender-Free
Usage_.  1987.  Boston:  Beacon, 1989.
Miller, Casey, and Kate Swift.  _The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing_.  2nd
ed.  New York:  Harper, 1988.
Schwartz, Marilyn, and the Task Force of the Association of American
University Presses.  _Guidelines for Bias-Free Writing_.  Bloomington:
Indiana UP, 1995.
Sorrels, Bobbye D.  _The Nonsexist Communicator:  Solving the Problems of
Gender and Awkwardness in Modern English_.  Englewood Cliffs:  Prentice,
Warren, Viginia L.  "Guidelines for the Nonsexist Use of Language."
_American Philosophical Association Proceedings_ 59 (1986):  471-84.
Stick with this argument - language matters!
Katy Milligan
Katherine J. Milligan
kmilli  @  ccat.sas.upenn.edu

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 11:22:01 -0600 (CST)
Subject: silencing girls/women with language -
I recently read "Egalia's Daughters".  One thing that stood out
for me in the novel was the reversal in the use of the female
nouns/pronouns.  Near the end of the novel the word man, instead
of menwim, was used and it stuck out like a sore thumb.  Since
reading the novel I have become even more conscious of the
pervasiveness of the use of male nouns/pronouns in our language.
My current favorite is the billboard in town advertising
Chi-Chi's "the master of the margarita".
Deb Nordgren
Assistant Professor, Library Science and Women's Studies
Hill Library
1800 Grand Ave.
Superior, WI  54880
dnordgre  @  wpo.uwsuper.edu

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 12:53:48 -0400
Subject: generic "man"
It's not at all surprising that even schoolgirls today feel
uncomfortable with the generic "man . . . he."  They're not living on
the moon, after all.  What would be intersting to know is how much
discomfort this caused to women, say, a hundred years ago.  My
experience is that female students have learned (out of necessity) to
identify with such usages in many instances, just as they can identify
with male protagonists of novels (I started asking them these
questions decades ago, and the answers were pretty clear), whereas the
reverse seems not to be the case.  I'd say women have an advantage
over men if they are able, mentally and psychically, to overcome the
apparent barriers of generic 'man' usages and male characters.
Amoong other things, this should strength their imaginative abilities.
D. --
Daphne.Patai  @  spanport.umass.edu

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 11:41:29 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: generic "man"
Daphne Patai writes:
>  What would be intersting to know is how much
> discomfort this caused to women, say, a hundred years ago.
reading Mary Wollstonecraft's "Vindication..." is an interesting
example of her visible struggle  to overcome
the ideas "in" the language, by struggling with
the language of the dominant writers of her time.
diane hodges
dchodges  @  unixg.ubc.ca  (vacationing at Frantz  @  nmsua.nmsu.edu)

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 13:50:54 -0400
From: "M.P. Carroll" <CARROLL @ SSCL.UWO.CA>
Subject: gender neutral language
    The flurry of messages on gender-neutral language in recent posts seems
a good opportunity for recommending the following source for anyone interested
in a short guide that might prove useful in undergraduate courses (certainly it
has proven useful in my own seminars):
"Words that count women in"
Free copies (I got about two dozen a year ago) can be obtained by writing to:
Ontario Women's Directorate
12th Floor
2 Carlton St.
Toronto, Ontario CANADA
M5B 2M9
It's only 36 pages long, but there are lots a good examples (to be avoided and
to be imitated), a concern for identifying underlying principles and even a
little historical data here and there that bolsters the case for gender
neutral usage in the face of commonly-encountered arguments for the contrary.
Mike Carroll
Univ. Western Ontario
carroll  @  sscl.uwo.ca

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