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Picture of Kalleh
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As some of you may have seen from the 6 letters thread, I was startled by dictionary.com's thesaurus entries for "men". There were 6 entries for men; besides the obvious "gender", there were "military", "world", "public", "army", "cavalry", and "troop".

Yet, for women, there was one entry--"gender".

Doesn't it strike you that the dictionary is sexist? Also, the number of war categories for men was quite telling. I know that in Israel women are drafted into the army. Is that true for other countries?
 
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You can't say that the dictionary is sexist. It simply reflects the language. If you were to say that the language is sexist, that would be a different matter.
 
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You make a good point, arnie. Yet, it seems to me that our language has changed, regarding women. [Perhaps my optimism is showing?] Look at our terms such as "chair" rather then "chairman" or "him/her" in referring to "one". Our local high school wanted to change its motto to "humankind" from "mankind", but they couldn't because it came from a quote. These are just a few examples.

How long, I wonder, does it take for dictionaries to change? Really, since at least the 70s, women have been a much bigger factor in the "world" or "public" categories, for example. I will give you that in the U.S., at least, women still are not a big part of the military. Still, I was surprised at the emphasis "military" is given to "men". When do we see the "cavalry" any more, for example?

Those definitions of "men" just seemed outdated to me.
 
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What other definitions for "women" would you include?

Tinman
 
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You have to be wary about changing words simply because the three letters "man" appear. If you're going to change "mankind" to "humankind" then maybe you need also to change "human" to "huperson" - or perhaps not.

Throughout the history of mankind (or should that be "the personstory of hupersonkind) the word man has frequently been used to include both genders and, where there is no bias or disadvantge to either sex, then I see no reason why that should not continue. By all means change "policeman" to "police officer" to include both sexes but don't fiddle about with perfectly good words otherwise.

Many of the words containing man (and I suggest that "mankind" is but one) have no gender bias and it is a sad commemtary on the part of the more extreme feminists that many perfectly good woods have been changed (often for the worse) simply because some extremist thought they were "sexist".

For example, everyone knows what a manhole cover is - but it is apparently deemed sexist to call it such and thus we now have something like a "person access chamber cover" "

"Mind you don't fall down that person access chamb...oh, too late!"

Richard English
 
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quote:

For example, everyone knows what a manhole cover is - but it is apparently deemed sexist to call it such and thus we now have something like a "person access chamber cover" "

Richard English


This is one of my favourite examples of inappropriate attempts to remove sexism, racism and all the other perceived evil -isms from the language.

The etymology of "manhole" has absolutely nothing to do with the word "man" being derived from Latin via the French "main", meaning hand.

It's the kind of specious nonsense that is also responsible for the objections to "black ice", "nitty-gritty" and "niggardly".

I'm the first to admit that the language needs a sexless third person pronoun and an associated grammar but such attempts to - and I'm choosing my word deliberately here - bastardise the language serve no-one's best interests.

Non curo ! Si metrum no habet, non est poema.

Read all about my travels around the world here.
Read even more of my travel writing and poems on my weblog.
 
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Guns don't kill; people do.

Language is not sexist or racist; people are.
 
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Whereas I agree 100% with both your sentiments, Jerry (being a one time Bisley shooter) I have to consider an alternative point of view.

If there were no guns there would be no gun crime.

Sexist language, whilst its abolition might not remove sex discrimination, it might help reduce it. That, at least, is the hope of those who taught me when I was studying sex discrimination for my UKHRD diploma.

Richard English
 
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Herein lies the problem: You are all men. How, really, do you know? You've not experienced it. It is annoying to be called a "chairman" or a "policman" or a "fireman" when you are a woman! When you are reading a book, and the author refers to "one" as "he", it is annoying. Is it the worst thing in the world? Of course not. However, in some ways it is demeaning.

To answer your question, Tinman, asking what other definitions about women I would include: I would definitely include "women" in the following synonyms for the "public" entry of "men": audience, bodies, buyers, cats, cattle, citizens, clientele, commonalty, community, country, dudes, electorate, everyone, followers, following, great unwashed, hangers-on, heads, hoi polloi, masses, men, mob, multitude, nation, patrons, people, populace, population, ragtag, riffraff, society, suite, supporters, voters

Similarly, I would include "women" in the following synonyms for the "world" entry of "men": class, division, everybody, everyone, group, human race, humanity, humankind, mankind, race, realm

On second thought, you men can keep "ragtag" and "riffraff"! Big Grin Wink

[This message was edited by Kalleh on Sun Aug 17th, 2003 at 19:40.]
 
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Let's be serious here. Men and women are not equal, and tinkering with the language will not alter that fact.

Men are more creative, inventive, industrious and aggressive - hence their position above women in society.

Only men's benevolence allowed women the vote, and gave them encouragement to improve their position at home and in the workplace.

Women will only ever be as equal as men allow them to be.
 
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I did a search on this and found zero hits of course.

Is there a word for pseudo-PC - the kind of stuff that is made up at the starting of a reactionary rant. We actually have no other kind in the UK.
 
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Ah, FatStan, so good to see you back. You are right, of course. Razz

And, Graham, I had never quibbled over manhole cover. I agree with Bob on that one. But that "audience" or "voters" are included in the dictionary.com thesaurus as synonyms for "men" and not "women", well give me a break!

Frankly, I am surprised at the reaction here.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
But that "audience" or "voters" are included in the dictionary.com thesaurus as synonyms for "men" and not "women", well give me a break!

Frankly, I am surprised at the reaction here.


Well I'll jump in and support you ! Smile
To a point anyway.

I see no problem at all with substituting non-sexist phrases or words for the ubiquitous "men" when the sense intended is "people". Fire officer ? No problem. Chair for chairman ? Likewise, no problem.
Some of the coinages for the more difficult ones are faintly ludicrous - Milk Delivery Person for Milkman ? Surely we can do better than that.

However now that I've had time I've investigated the original post at the top of the thread more closely and I think I see a slight flaw in the reasoning.

The thesaurus wasn't searched for synonyms for "men" and "women" but for entries containing "men" and "women". So far so good but what this does is leads to the false conclusion that things which are synonyms to the key entry are necessarilly synonyms to each other.

Take the first entry for example - army. It may be strictly incorrect nowadyas but it certainly traditional usage that an army company, brigade, platoon or whatever is addressed as "men". Hence the synonym. It would be extremely unlikely that any officer would ever address the unit as "women". This is a case where I can't think of an acceptable alternative. "People" sounds too unmilitary. "You" is workable but fails when a noun is needed. What other alternatives are there ?

The second entry "cavalry" is just a variation on the first. While there may be women in the cavalry it would be an unusual commander that would address a mixed unit as "women" rather than "men".

With "public" rather than add "women" as a synonym I'd be inclined to delete "men" as neither seems to me be be especially synonymous with the term. This entry though, it should be noted, isn't suggesting that audience or voters are synonyms for men, it is suggesting that all three may in some circumstances be synonyms for public. Let me say again that words which are synonyms to a common word are not necessarily synonyms for each other.

Troop is the army/cavalry problem again.

World is just reporting the use of the word mankind. Much though you might like it to be otherwise the word "womankind" does not express the same concept as the word "mankind". If the word Womankind exists at all it's the men who should get uptight about it because there is no word that means just us - mankind means everybody.

So what it comes down to is that there are two legitimate listed uses of "men" - the one under sex and multiple variations of the military usage. There is one questionable listing under "public". And there is the listing for man/mankind under world which some may find objectionable but which is nevertheless the common accepted usage and has been for a very long time.


As I said I'm all for using inoffensive gender-free terminology but to object to "men" in the contexts shown seems to be a little unreasonable.

I did start this post intending to support the original position and believe me I do support it in the everyday contexts of using alternatives to policeman, fireman, chairman. milkman, and so on but it seems that I've done nothing but attempt to demolish the original post. That wasn't my intention. It just turned out that way. Sorry. Roll Eyes

Non curo ! Si metrum no habet, non est poema.

Read all about my travels around the world here.
Read even more of my travel writing and poems on my weblog.
 
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Please click here for the original in Spanish

Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, Mexican nun and poet, 1648 - 1695, wrote:

Cuál mayor culpa ha tenido
en una pasión errada,
la que cae de rogada
o el que ruega de caído?

¿O cuál es más de culpar,
aunque cualquiera mal haga:
la que peca por la paga
o el que paga por pecar?

Translation: ==> Which is more guilty in an illicit love affair, she who yields to his begging, or he who begs her to yield?

Or which is more guilty, even though both are at fault, she who sins for pay, or he who pays her to sin?


[This message was edited by jerry thomas on Mon Aug 18th, 2003 at 19:13.]
 
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The funny thing is, Jerry, that I had never, in the first place, intended this to be a "battle of the sexes" thread. I really am more than a little surprised at these responses.

Bob, I do appreciate the thoughtful response. I read it and reread it to be sure that I understand you. However, you must understand how I came to this post in the first place. I was in the 6 letters thread, trying to find a synonym for men. I do that all the time in that thread and while sometimes the synonyms are lame, most of the time they are good. I was amazed at what came up for men, and then more amazed that only gender came up for women. Now, while you say that the entry "public" and the definition "community" are synonymous with "audience" and not "men", at the very least, isn't that misleading? Further, if you are correct, then certainly "women" should be represented in the "public" and "world" entries. The "human race", "humanity", "everyone" all include women, too.

In the end, though, it seems you actually agree with me. We both think that the army, cavalry entries are acceptable, though somewhat outdated. While not in the U.S., in many parts of the world women are integral parts of the military. Even in the U.S. they make up a much larger percentage than even 10 years ago. Secondly, you, as I, question the use of "men" to define "public". I agree that men should be deleted from this definition, rather than to add "women". Now, in "mankind" we may have some disagreement. I, unlike you, think there should be a reasonable alternative, after all these years. To use "men" to represent (yes, I am not saying define!) the human race is ludicrous. This seems to be our biggest disagreement.

I do appreciate the analysis, though. Wink
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:

Now, while you say that the entry "public" and the definition "community" are synonymous with "audience" and not "men", _at the very least_, isn't that misleading?



This is precisely why a thesaurus should be consulted with care. Words listed in a thesaurus are rarely "true synonyms" as few such exist anyway. They are almost always words which in some circumstances can be substituted for the head word of the entry. Take the one in question - public. I personally feel that "men" is so far from the concept it shouldn't be included at all but if we accept the rationale that entries listed under "public" must in some way be connected to each other then we are accepting that "riffraff" is a synonym for "voters" and that "clientelle" is a synonym for "nation" as all four of these words are in the list.
It's why I rarely recommend the use of a thesaurus to my foreign students.

quote:

Further, if you are correct, then certainly "women" should be represented in the "public" and "world" entries. The "human race", "humanity", "everyone" all include women, too.



True, but the converse isn't. Neither "women" nor "men" can legitimately be considered a synonym for "public" because neither of them encompasses the whole of the public.

quote:

Now, in "mankind" we may have some disagreement. I, unlike you, think there should be a reasonable alternative, after all these years. To use "men" to represent (yes, I am _not_ saying define!) the human race is ludicrous. This seems to be our biggest disagreement.



As you have pointed out we have the words humanity and humankind but the thesaurus has to report all of the currently acceptable sysnonyms - one of the oldest of which is mankind. To delete words from a dictionary or thesaurus on the grounds that while they are used they are nevertheless in some way objectionable to some people is taking us perilously close to the concepts of 1984 where the Government controls the language and anyone who opposes the prevailing view is guilty of "thoughtcrime".


Feels good to be back ! Smile

Non curo ! Si metrum no habet, non est poema.

Read all about my travels around the world here.
Read even more of my travel writing and poems on my weblog.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
Herein lies the problem: You are all _men_. How, really, do you know? You've not experienced it. It is annoying to be called a "chairman" or a "policman" or a "fireman" when you are a woman!


I, being a woman and all, still have to disagree with you. I was the Chairman of Disaster Services for the Red Cross and was very proud to be so. I never once wanted to be the Chairperson.

quote:
When you are reading a book, and the author refers to "one" as "he", it is annoying.


Not to me!

quote:
However, in some ways it is demeaning.


Not to me.

Sorry... this is my womanly opinion and I'm sticking to it!
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
While not in the U.S., in many parts of the world women are integral parts of the military.


Okay... I, as a former US Army Airborne Parachute Rigger, I have to take offense at this. I'm sure that the troops, both men and women, whose parachutes I packed considered me an extremely integral part of the United States military.
 
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Sorry... this is my womanly opinion and I'm sticking to it!
Fair enough.

quote:
Okay... I, as a former US Army Airborne Parachute Rigger, I have to take offense at this. I'm sure that the troops, both men and women, whose parachutes I packed considered me an extremely integral part of the United States military
I, in no way, meant to demean the wonderful work that women do in our military, nor to offend you. In fact, recently I was at a dinner in Washington DC honoring our women in the military, at the Women in Military Museum. I apologize. I was merely referring to numbers when I used the term "integral"; perhaps that was confusing.

Welcome back, TrossL. We have missed you.

Bob, you make 2 good points. First, as far as using a thesaurus, you are right. We do have to be careful. I looked "thesaurus" up in dictionary.com, and it is defined as a book of synonyms first; then, secondly, a book of related words. I do think people should be more careful with how they use it. I have often chuckled over some of their "synonyms" (i.e. from another thread: "interface" for "wed").

Alright, I give you that "mankind" should stay. I don't even suggest we make it "humankind". Yet, I would like to see some "usage notes" or something to denote there has been discussion about its use. While TrossL disagrees with me, I can tell you that I am not alone here, nor am I even one of the reactionary women about this.

My husband did suggest to me that "man" is in "woman. So, he considers "mankind", "chairman", etc. to include women as well. That is a good point. Still, I like being called the "chair", though I do hate "chairwoman". The new edition of the Chicago Writing Style Book (I don't know the exact title), in fact, suggests "chair" over "chairman" now. At least that term is changing.

[This message was edited by Kalleh on Tue Aug 19th, 2003 at 19:04.]
 
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Well, folks, if "cavalry" is somewhat related to "men," and "cavalry" literally means "horsemen," it leads me to wonder which end of the horse we're discussing! Or is this "tempest in a teapot" putting the horse before the carp? (synonym: gripe, complain, kvetch, whine...) Big Grin
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
I will give you that in the U.S., at least, women still are not a big part of the military.

Kalleh! I am astounded!! There is no doubt in my mind that if all the women in the U.S. military were removed overnight, the whole shebang would collapse in the morning. (We'll sidestep the debate regarding whether or not this would be a good thing.)

Is our military half female? Of course not, but I don't know just how much more "integral" women could be. My daughters' half-sister was recently decorated for her work as a member of an aircrew which flew several combat missions in Afganistan during which she played a major role (not to put too fine a point on it) in the killing of substantial numbers of the enemy.

When I first entered the Air Force in 1970, women were definitely an underused and underappreciated minority. The all-too-common joke was that "WAF," which stood for "Women in the Air Force," actually stood for "We All F**k" which was as unjust and it was ignorant. They were, however, almost exclusively assigned duties as secretaries, nurses, and personnel specialists. Aside from on-the-ground hand-to-hand combat kinds of jobs, women in today's U.S. military have almost completely blurred the lines between what was previously considered "men's work" and "women's work" much to the benefit of us all. Especially with this board being read by a number of non-U.S. types, I really feel strongly that this point needs to be made.


For what it's worth, I'm still not officially back on the board but I did get a heads-up from a regular that there were a few items here that I'd probably want to comment on.


And as far as an alternative to "milkman" is concerned, might I suggest "lactaporter"??
 
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Do you still have milkmen in the USA?

They are a dying breed here, I fear, but we still get our milk delivered to our house. Sadly the competition from cheaper supermarket milk is driving most people away from the home delivery service.

Richard English
 
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Because I live in a rural neighborhood 12 miles from the nearest post office, my mail is delivered by a rural mail carrier who happens to be a woman.

She's my female mail person. Cool
 
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quote:
Kalleh! I am astounded!!
I can only say that I wish I never would have started this thread. CJ, did you see my explanation to TrossL? What are the numbers of men vs. women in the military anyway? Am I not correct that men outnumber women by a large percent? That was all I meant.

My original intent here was quite lightheared, laughing at the synonyms for "men"--and finding it even funnier that "women", then, only had the gender related synonyms.

Somehow it deteriorated into me being considered anti-men and anti-women in the military. Not the case at all, I assure everyone here.

I did learn a lot about thesauruses (expect what the plural is! Razz) though, thanks to Bob. Smile

[This message was edited by Kalleh on Fri Aug 22nd, 2003 at 22:05.]
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
[QUOTE]My _original_ intent here was quite lightheared, laughing at the _synonyms_ for "men"--and finding it even funnier that "women", then, only had the gender related synonyms.

Somehow it deteriorated into me being considered anti-men and anti-women in the military. Not the case at all, I assure everyone here.




Ah, but that's the beauty of the board. Threads meander and twist and turn until the frequently bear little relation to the original intention and if a light hearted remark can spark off an intellegent debate then all the better.

I'm sure no-one here thinks that you are anti-men, anti-women in the military or anti-anything in particular. I certainly don't think that.

For me the most interesting bit was the bit about using a thesaurus but the thread hasn't deteriorated it's just developed. I might start another thread on the peculiarities of thesaurus (Collins gives thesauri and thesauruses as legitimate plurals, I favour thesauruses). Maybe we could make a game of it - who can most mutilate a sentence by replacing the words with thesaurus "synonyms". It's a bit too late for me to bother now but tomorrow morning I'll get right onto devising a new game.

Don't worry too much when threads take off in new directions. At least here they're always erudite and entertaining.

Glaubt es mir - das Geheimnis, um die größte Fruchtbarkeit und den größten Genuß vom Dasein einzuernten, heisst: gefährlich leben.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Read all about my travels around the world here.
Read even more of my travel writing and poems on my weblog.
 
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Oh, Bob, I am not worried about the different directions that threads take. In fact, I am often one of the offenders of that. Roll Eyes

However, I do worry when my posts are misinterpreted. In no way am I against women in the military. After all, my profession is filled with women who are in the military. As I already posted, only weeks ago I attended a dinner, honoring our women in the military.

I hate to sound so defensive, but then I also hate to be misinterpreted. Frown
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh (Aug. 18):
... I had never, in the first place, intended this to be a "battle of the sexes" thread. I really am more than a little surprised at these responses.

I realize, Kalleh, you did not intend this to become a battle of the sexes, but you added fuel to the fire when you said (on Aug. 17), “Herein lies the problem: You are all men". If you read the responses carefully, I think you will find that no one (except FatStan, of course) was disagreeing with your frustration with sexism. They were trying to say that a dictionary is supposed to record the definitions of words, not create them. It can’t (or shouldn’t) censor definitions you don’t like. Likewise, it can’t create new definitions.

Your original post started out referring to a thesaurus and ended up talking about a dictionary and, of course, they aren’t the same. If you look up man on dictionary.com, you will find a Usage Note in the AHD entry:

Usage Note: Traditionally, many writers have used man and words derived from it to designate any or all of the human race regardless of sex. In fact, this is the oldest use of the word. In Old English the principal sense of man was “a human,” and the words wer and wyf (or wæpman and wifman) were used to refer to “a male human” and “a female human” respectively. But in Middle English man displaced wer as the term for “a male human,” while wyfman (which evolved into present-day woman) was retained for “a female human.” Despite this change, man continued to carry its original sense of “a human” as well, resulting in an asymmetrical arrangement that many criticize as sexist. Nonetheless, a majority of the Usage Panel still accepts the generic use of man, although the women members have significantly less enthusiasm for this usage than the men do. For example, the sentence If early man suffered from a lack of information, modern man is tyrannized by an excess of it is acceptable to 81 percent of the Panel but a breakdown by sex shows that only 58 percent of the women Panelists accept it, while 92 percent of the men do. A majority of the Panel also accepts compound words derived from generic man. The sentence The Great Wall is the only man-made structure visible from space is acceptable to 86 percent (76 percent of the women and 91 percent of the men). The sentence "The history of language is the history of mankind" (James Bradstreet Greenough and George Lyman Kittredge) is acceptable to 76 percent (63 percent of the women and 82 percent of the men). The Panel finds such compounds less acceptable when applied to women, however; only 66 percent of the Panel members (57 percent of the women and 71 percent of the men) accept the use of the word manpower in the sentence Countries that do not permit women to participate in the work force are at a disadvantage in competing with those that do avail themselves of that extra source of manpower. Similar controversy surrounds the generic use of –man compounds to indicate occupational and social roles. Thus the use of chairman in the sentence The chairman will be appointed by the Faculty Senate is acceptable to 67 percent of the Panel (52 percent of the women and 76 percent of the men). Approval rates fall much further, however, for –man compounds applied to women. Only 48 percent (43 percent of the women and 50 percent of the men) accept the use of the word in Emily Owen, chairman of the Mayor's Task Force, issued a statement assuring residents that their views would be solicited. A majority of the Panelists also rejects the verb man when used to refer to an activity performed by women. Fifty-six percent of the Panel (61 percent of the women and 54 percent of the men) disapprove of the sentence Members of the League of Women Voters will be manning the registration desk.


Hugh Rawson, in Rawson’s Dictionary Of Euphemisms And Other Doubletalk (Castle Books, 2002), says:

“‘Woman’ itself has a curious history, which may be of some consolation to female readers, since it shows that they are not, linguistically at least, mere derivatives of the other sex. Superficial appearance to the contrary, ‘woman’ does not come from ‘man,’ but from the Old English ‘wif-mann,’ where "’wif’ meant ‘female’ and ‘mann’ meant a human being of either sex. As late as 1752, the philosopher David Hume could use ‘man’ in the original sense, when contending that ‘There is in all men, both male and female, a desire and power of generation more active than is ever universally exerted.’ What happened as the language evolved, of course, was that males gradually arrogated the generic ‘mann’ to themselves, while the old word for female, ‘wif,’ was diminished into ‘wife,’i.e., man’s appendage, aka the little woman, the old woman, and my woman. Today, some men still insist that when they use ‘man’ in such constructions as ‘The proper study of Mankind is Man,’ or ‘Man is a tool-making animal,’ they do not intend to imply that their sex is the superior, but they are fighting the tide of our time.” (p. 458)

He goes on to say that, in the first part of the nineteenth century, “woman” was considered too common to use in polite speech. “Female” and “lady’ were the preferred euphemisms. “Female” gradually fell into disrepute, having acquired some of the “base sexual associations” of “woman”. When Vassar Female College was established, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book protested that “female”, as applied to women, “is improper and sounds unpleasantly, as referring to an animal. … It is inelegant as well as absurd.” (p. 163 under female)

Jane Mills, in Womanwords: A Dictionary of Words About Women (The Free Press, 1989) says:

Woman is from Old English wifman, formed on wif, meaning woman, and man(n) , meaning humankind, thus giving the meaning adult female person. Waepman was the male equivalent, meaning adult male person. The spelling of woman, by dropping the ‘f’ and changing the ‘i’ to an ‘o’ evolved by the C14th into woman.” (pp. 265-266)

and

“Old English wifman denoted both an adult female person and a female servant. In the C14th woman came to mean a LADY love, later a kept MISTRESS and, in the plural, it came to denote human female as partners in sexual intercourse ‘or irregularities’ as Webster’s euphemistically puts it. In the C15th it signified a wife. In the US in 1834 it was a low colloquialism for a MOTHER. But the negative and sexual connotations never completely disappeared: since the early C17th a woman of pleasure meant one who is devoted to the pursuit of sensual pleasure and later, more specifically a WANTON or a COURTESAN. By 1785 the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue defined both this phrase and woman of the town as a PROSTITUTE. In the C19th woman became low slang for the female pudendum or VAGINA

“Towards the end of the C18th woman began to be used in contrast, explicit or implicit, with lady, eg, in 1847 the English journal The Athenaeum recorded that the ‘Defendant pleaded …that the person described as a woman was in fact a lady’. Muriel R Schultz suggests that woman was avoided ‘probably as a Victorian sexual taboo, since it had acquired the meaning “paramour or mistress” or the sense of intercourse with women when used in the plural, as in Wine, Women, and Song.’. But this cannot be the full explanation since lady in various compound terms , such as lady of the night and ladybird, had also meant WHORE since the C16th and by the C19th, was yet another synonym for the female genitalia. Lady, however, retained its connotations of superior gentility and had become identified with positive values of the feminine ideal: to be ladylike was, essentially, to be passive and CHASTE. It was not a quality possessed by working women –whose morals have always been considered suspect by the middle and upper classes.

“FEMALE was anothered preferred substitute for woman during the C19th. This, however, also became contaminated by notions of indelicacy, possibly because of its associations with female biological function. It was so repugnant a word to Mrs Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, that when Vassar Female College was founded in 1861 she spent six years fighting to secure the removal of the offending adjective from the college sign.” (pp. 266-267)

Finally, on p. 268:

“The history of woman and other related compound terms all point to a stereotyped view of woman as being weak and less than man; as the C20th psychiatrist Alfred Adler wrote: ‘All our institutions, our traditional attitudes, our laws, our morals, our customs, give evidence of the fact that they are determined and maintained by privileged males for the glory of male domination…That woman must be submissive, is an unwritten but deeply rooted law…’ A law most clearly expressed in the Jewish morning prayer of males: ‘Blessed be God...that he did not make me a woman.’ Their wives, noted Simone de Beauvoir, ‘pray on a note of resignation “Blessed be the Lord, who created me according to his will.”’ (The Second Sex, 1949)

There’s more, of course, but I have to stop somewhere. The words in small caps are separate entries elsewhere in the book.

The Language Shtick also discusses the etymology of woman.

Correction: Apparently Womanwords was originally published by Longmans Green and Co Ltd in 1989. Virago Press Ltd published a paperback edition in 1991, and The Free Press reprinted it as a hardback in 1992.)

Tinman

[This message was edited by tinman on Sat Sep 13th, 2003 at 2:44.]
 
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I realize, Kalleh, you did not intend this to become a battle of the sexes, but you added fuel to the fire when you said
(on Aug. 17), “Herein lies the problem: You are all men".
That I did, Tinman, and I apologize. Once again your scholarly discussion is absolutely excellent. While you say you are not a professor, in my mind you are more scholarly than 99% of the professors I have known. Thanks so much for the wonderful discussion.

And, I do apologize, to all, if I became a little cantankerous in this thread.
 
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And, I do apologize, to all, if I became a little cantankerous in this thread.

There's no need to apologize, Kalleh. Just keep on posting and speaking your mind. If we get a little miffed over something you or anyone else says, we'll get over it. It's important for us to be able to express our opinions without pussyfooting around, trying to avoid the slightest possibility of offending someone. We're all friends here, and can understand that comments are not personal attacks. We occasionally take pokes at each other, but it's all in the spirit of camaraderie. So be as cantankerous as you want!

Tinman
 
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It's interesting (to me at least) that man was originally a non-gender word, meaning "humanity" or "human kind". If you wanted to refer specifically to a male adult, the word was wer (which survives only in werewolf), while a female adult was wif (survives in wife).

In the same way, the words for "man" in Latin, Spanish, Italian, French, German and Russian were originally gender-neutral words.

Similarly, gyrle (vith varient spellings; now girl) originally meant a young person of either sex, and only later came to mean specifically a female child.

[This message was edited by wordnerd on Sat Aug 30th, 2003 at 16:22.]
 
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Tinman just got me to settle down a bit....until I put the term "lady" into dictionary.com's thesaurus, again looking for a word in the 6-letters thread. Will you look at the difference in the words with "lady" versus "gentleman."

Okay, now I understand what Bob has said about thesauruses. Am I a fool to think that the synonyms should be half-way similar? Why would "beggar" be an entry for "lady", anyway? If it's an entry for "lady", why isn't it for "gentleman"?
 
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Tinman just got me to settle down a bit....until I put the term "lady" into dictionary.com's thesaurus, again looking for a word in the 6-letters thread. Will you look at the difference in the words with http://thesaurus.reference.com/search?q=lady versus http://thesaurus.reference.com/search?q=gentleman

Okay, now I understand what Bob has said about thesauruses. Am I a fool to think that the synonyms should be half-way similar? Why would "beggar" be an entry for "lady", anyway? If it's an entry for "lady", why isn't it for "gentleman"?


I do keep disagreeing with you on this one, don't I ? Smile
Once again the thesaurus isn't doing what you think it is.

It's giving "bag lady" as a synonym for "beggar" not "beggar" as a synonym for "lady".
The only synonyms it gives for lady are

quote:
adult, babe, bag, baroness, bitch, broad, butterfly, contessa, countess, dame, doll, duchess, empress, female, gal, gentlewoman, girl, little woman, mama, mare, matron, missus, mistress, noblewoman, old bag, old lady, old woman, petticoat, princess, queen, queen bee, rib, squaw, sultana, weaker sex


and while I'm not sure I'd agree with "adult" all the others are terms in common use to mean "female".

The second entry shows synonyms for "beggar", one of which is "bag lady" - hardly contentious as this is a very common term for a female beggar.

The third entry shows synonyms for "beloved" one of which is "old lady", a very common term for "wife".

The fourth and fifth entries show synonyms for "bum" and "derelict" which again include "bag lady". Personally I'm not sure why these are separated from beggar but see nothing contentious about them. After all it also includes "remitance man" (which I've never heard" and has inexplicably omitted "gentleman of the road" which is another common term for a hobo. I'd have thought "street arab" was a far more contentious term especially as it hasn't been common this century.

The sixth once again demonstrates that you should only look at the headword when it defines "domestic" as "cleaning lady". Here you might have a legitimate social point. There are sixteen synonyms given for "domestic" of which eight are female, six are either sex and only two (man and houseboy) are specifically male.

The seventh entry defines alternatives to "employer" and includes "boss lady", surel;y not all that uncommon a term for describing a female boss ?


I could go on down the list for all thirty seven listings but that would be overkill on the point.


Points to remember about a thesaurus

1. The synonyms are only synonyms for the headword, not for each other.

2 Some synonyms may only be used in certain circumstances - "gee-gee" for "horse" would sound decidely odd if given in a vetrinary paper.

3. when phrase (such as "bag lady") are used the whole phrase is the synonym not the individual words.

4. It doesn't work backwards ! When you are looking for synonyms for the word "lady" only the ones given under the headword lady should be considered. Ones where "lady" or a phrase containing "lady" appear in the body of the entry should be disregarded.

I'll take my teachers hat off now.

Roll Eyes

Glaubt es mir - das Geheimnis, um die größte Fruchtbarkeit und den größten Genuß vom Dasein einzuernten, heisst: gefährlich leben.
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Okay, teacher, explain this then:
Entry: Lady
Function: Noun
Definition:Woman

One of the synonyms: Weaker sex

I'm listening.....
 
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OK, I've had a few beers but I'll give this a shot.

If I were to say to you that "Chris is a member of the weaker sex" would you understand Chris to be male or female?

If you answered male you were either being deliberately contrary, militantly feminist or you were lying. The phrase is always used (wrongly perhaps) to refer to women.

Now I do not believe for one moment that women are "the weaker sex" but it is incontrovertible fact that in normal usage the expression "the weaker sex" refers to women.
A thesaurus, much more so than a dictionary, is descriptive rather than prescriptive so for it to list "the weaker sex" as a synonym for either "woman" or "lady" is to be expected.

Be honest, you might not agree (indeed you shouldn't agree) but in normal usage would you believe that someone saying "the weaker sex" meant men ?

Glaubt es mir - das Geheimnis, um die größte Fruchtbarkeit und den größten Genuß vom Dasein einzuernten, heisst: gefährlich leben.
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Here we go again, I guess. Sorry to beat a dead horse.

However, just because the jerks of the world think women are the weaker sex, doesn't mean that the dictionaries should acquiecse, right? Nobody really believes that, with the possible exception of FatStan! In fact, there are a lot of indications to the opposite. I recently read an article about men versus women healthwise; women live longer than men, and incidences of most of the leading causes of death are higher in men. It was a shocking article, really.

Now, brute strength? I will relent on that, at least for the majority of men compared to women. I can't imagine that is what is meant by the "weaker sex", though.
 
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... , just because the jerks of the world think women are the weaker sex, doesn't mean that the dictionaries should acquiecse, right?

You miss the point, Kalleh. A dictionary cannot just make up a definition of a word, nor can it arbitrarily eliminate one it doesn't like. A dictionary's job is to present the most common meanings. To do otherwise would be censorship and destroy the dictionary's credibility. "Weaker sex" has historically referred to women, and a dictionary has an obligation to report that. If it wishes to then include a usage note or comment, as some dictionaries do, it can do so.

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Kalleh,

You might be interested in The Natural Superiority of Women by Ashley Montagu, and in the following article from the New York Times:

Editorial Desk | July 9, 2003, Wednesday
Incredible Shrinking Y

By MAUREEN DOWD; Thomas L. Friedman is on vacation. (NYT) 740 words
Late Edition - Final , Section A , Page 21 , Column 5

ABSTRACT - Maureen Dowd Op-Ed column on startling discovery that human Y chromosome, genetic package carried only by men, is recombining with itself; quotes from several recent books that claim women are in ascendancy and Y chromosome is on decline; says this might explain why men are adapting, becoming more passive and turning into 'metrosexuals,' new term for straight men who are feminized (M) Why, oh Y, are men so insecure?

The darlings have been fretting for some years now that they may be rendered unnecessary if women get financial and biological independence, learning how to reproduce and refinance without them. What if nature played a cruel trick and demoted men, so they had to be judged merely by their appearance, pliability and talent for gazing raptly at the opposite sex, no matter how bored?

New research on the Y chromosome shows that my jittery male friends are not paranoid; they are in an evolutionary shame spiral.

As Nicholas Wade wrote in The Times: "Although most men are unaware of the peril, the Y chromosome has been shedding genes furiously over the course of evolutionary time, and it is now a fraction of the size of its partner, the X
chromosome. . . . The decay of the Y stems from the fact that it is forbidden to enjoy the principal advantage of sex, which is, of course, for each member of a pair of chromosomes to swap matching pieces of DNA with its partner."

Mr. Wade said that biologists in Cambridge, Mass., had made a remarkable discovery: "Denied the benefits of recombining with the X, the Y recombines with itself."

The ultimate guys' night out. Simply put, the Y chromosome figured out a Herculean way to save itself from extinction by making an incredibly difficult hairpin turn and swapping molecular material with itself.

Self-love as a survival mechanism: the unflinching narcissism of men may send women into despair at times, but it has saved their sex for the next 5 million or 10 million years.

But, according to Olivia Judson, science's answer to the sensual British cook Nigella Lawson, men may need more than narcissism to survive.

Dr. Judson, a 33-year-old evolutionary biologist at Imperial College in London who has written a book about animals in a Dear Abby style, or Deer Abby, under the pen name Dr. Tatiana, says the worm has turned. "For a long time, it was assumed that promiscuity was good for males and bad for females in terms of the number of kids they
could have," she explains. "But it wasn't until 1988 that it really started to become evident that females were benefiting from having sex with lots of males, with more promiscuous females having more and healthier offspring."

In her book, Dr. Judson writes about powerful babes, noting that females in more than 80 species, like praying mantises, have been caught devouring their lovers before, during or after mating. "I'm particularly fond," she told me, "of the green spoon worm. . . . The male is 200,000
times smaller, effectively a little parasite who lives in her reproductive tract, fertilizing her eggs and regurgitating sperm through his mouth."

And then there's the tiny female midge, who plunges her proboscis into the male midge's head during procreation. As Dr. Judson told the journalist Ken Ringle, "Her spittle turns his innards to soup, which she slurps up, drinking
until she's sucked him dry."

The Economist recently reported on a variation of the creepy-crawly girl-eats-boy love stories. The male orb-weaving spider kills himself before the female has a chance to. Biologists now believe that the male orb-weaver dies when he turns himself into a plug to prevent other males from copulating, thus ensuring his genes are more
likely to live on.

In a new book called "Y: The Descent of Men," Steve Jones, a professor of genetics at University College in London, says males, always a genetic "parasite," have devolved to become the "second sex."

The news that Dolly the sheep had been cloned without masculine aid sent a frisson through the Y populace, he writes, because men began to fear that science would cause nature to return to its original, feminine state and men would fade from view.

The Y chromosome, "a mere remnant of its once mighty structure," is worried about size. "Men are wilting away," Dr. Jones writes. "From sperm count to social status and from fertilization to death, as civilization advances, those who bear Y chromosomes are in relative decline."

Perhaps that's why men are adapting, becoming more passive and turning into "metrosexuals," the new term for straight men who are feminized, with a taste for facials, grooming products and home design.

Better to be an X chromosome than an ex-chromosome.

Tinman

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/09/opinion/09DOWD.html?ex=1058809264&ei=1&en=f22303dd8df51e6b
 
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Big Grin You made my day, Tinman! I will get off my high horse on the subject. Wink
 
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..... to determine the sex of a chromosome, first, remove its genes. Red Face
 
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Good one, Jerry! Big Grin

Now, I must confess that I am not quite the women's libber that I appear to be. I have been in a profession of women for 20 years, and I can tell you that women are not always easy to work with. Women tend to be more petty than men. The men will get angry when something goes wrong, tell you off, but then it's over. Women will hang onto it for years sometimes! I have literally been in meetings where someone has said, "Well, 20 years ago she wouldn't let me teach that course, and I've never trusted her since!"

Thought I'd better be more fair here! Red Face
 
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Just a few quotes from this article.

The best that modern science can say for sexual abstinence is that it's harmless when practiced in moderation.

I told her, 'Look, you'd better buy a vibrator or you're going to lose function there.'

But is there such a thing as too much sex?

The answer, in purely physiological terms, is this: If you're female, probably not. If you're male? You betcha.

Other studies (some rigorous, some less so) purport to show that having sex even a few times a week has an associative or causal relationship with the following:

Improved sense of smell

Reduced risk of heart disease: In reporting these results, the co-author of the study, Shah Ebrahim, Ph.D., displayed the well-loved British gift for understatement: "The relationship found between frequency of sexual intercourse and mortality is of considerable public interest."

Weight loss, overall fitness

Reduced depression

Pain-relief

Less-frequent colds and flu

Better bladder control

Better teeth

A happier prostate?

Tinman
 
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A happier prostate?

Gee, women have ... a prostate?
By Faye Flam

Knight Ridder Newspapers

Due to overwhelming interest, we're going to return to the G spot — a region of female anatomy associated with orgasm and occasionally ejaculation.

After my last column on the G spot ran last month, quite a few men wrote in or called. Several said they were older than 60 and they sounded as if they'd been with enough women to have put together statistically significant scientific studies on female sexual response. These guys for the most part wanted to express wonder at the great diversity nature bestows on the female body.

Those who reported they'd witnessed an ejaculatory event may have rubbed up against a woman's prostate. That's not a typo. In 2002, what was once an obscure female anatomical feature known as the paraurethral glands, or Skene's glands, was officially renamed the prostate by the Federative International Committee on Anatomical Terminology.

To understand why women would have prostate glands, it helps to go back to our embryonic beginnings, when everything was taking shape. Popular wisdom says we all start life as female embryos, but scientists say we really begin as blended male-female beings.

"You actually have the plumbing for both genders in the early embryos," says University of Pennsylvania developmental biologist Patricia Labosky. At eight weeks, males and females both have a proto penis and a proto prostate.

After that point, depending on whether your chromosomes say you're male or female, some parts grow and develop and others degenerate. A few develop in different ways in both sexes: In girls, what would become the penis instead grows into its sister organ, the clitoris.

And what would become the male prostate becomes the female prostate. Just as the male prostate produces the fluid that carries sperm to their various destinations, the female version sometimes creates an ejaculation of fluid if rubbed the right way — through the G spot.

Men and women really aren't such different creatures. We really are just flip sides of the same coin.

But as the various men who called me to talk about female ejaculation noted, this is far from universal. Some had been around many blocks and seen it only once. Science may offer an explanation in that men need a fully functional prostate to reproduce. Women apparently don't. As a general rule, life generates variety wherever survival allows it to.

So what's the news you can use here? Bringing clarity to the G-spot issue was sex expert Tristan Taormino, who was in Philadelphia the week before Valentine's Day to talk to a group of about 35 women gathered at a lingerie boutique.

advertising
The store provided wine and cheese and timed the event to coincide with the launch of a line of wares — lubricants and sex toys.

Taormino, 34, writes a sex column for the Village Voice and has written several books on sex. She says she's had sex with both women and men and has tried everything she lectures on. She calls herself "equal opportunity."

In New York and elsewhere, she does "hands-on demonstrations." This was not one of those. She stayed in the front of the room. We stayed in our seats.

She covered a lot of territory, but the G spot generated the most interest. Touching it makes many women feel like they have to urinate, she said. For some, this is a good feeling and can lead to orgasm; for others, it's annoying and leads to the nearest bathroom.

Taormino said no one should feel defective if she doesn't ejaculate, and no one should feel freakish if she does. But trying to have a G-spot orgasm is worth attempting, she said, and can sometimes be reached with regular old sexual intercourse. The critical thing is to get him to concentrate on your shallower regions.

She left us with this easy-to-remember geographic analogy: If the vagina is the Amtrak's Northeast corridor, which starts in Washington, tell your man to stop traveling to Springfield, Mass., and try spending more time in Philly. Who could argue with that?

Faye Flam writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Her Carnal Knowledge column appears Wednesdays in

The Seattle Times.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

Tinman
 
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I ran across this article today: New Column: Poisoning Our Culture Against Men

The book referred to in the article, * Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture , by Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young, is the first in a trilogy, Beyond the Fall of Man. Volume II is * Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination Against Men . They were published in 2006 by McGill-Queen's University Press.
 
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I ran across this article today: New Column: Poisoning Our Culture Against Men

The book referred to in the article, Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture, by Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young, is the first in a trilogy, Beyond the Fall of Man. Volume II is Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination Against Men . They were published in 2006 by McGill-Queen's University Press.
 
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I'd never considered it but the article makes some interesting (if highly selective) points about popular culture. I wonder if any similar change is happening in the use of language.

There is certainly a demonization of men going on in society via the popular press in that every man seems now to be viewed as a potential paedophile. And we are coming to view ourselves that way too. Only last week a small child and his mother (not known to me) were walking towards me in the street and the child, too young to have grasped the omnipresent "don't talk to strangers" rule, said "Hello" to me. I was actually relieved that his mother jerked his arm and pulled him away so quickly, so that I didn't have to reply and by speaking to a child label myself as a potential child molester. I felt quite shocked at my sense of relief but it was real.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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Shu loves kids and talking to strangers (anyone!) in public. Sometimes I worry that he may be taken the wrong way, too.

I suppose I can see the point of Tinman's posts and your comments, Bob. However, just remember that women have their problems in society too. While many more women are in law, business, and medicine, they are not, in most cases, the leaders. How many women are at the helm of Fortune 500 companies, or the managing partner of major law firms (one in Chicago) or chief of staff at major medical centers?

I often wonder about nature or nurture. Shu and I saw some 12-year-olds (or thereabouts) playing with toy rifles that were water guns. They were having a ball, while the girls were off talking on cell phones. What makes them so different? Why are boys drawn to guns while girls are drawn to dolls? Is it simply societal? I don't think so, but I don't have an explanation.
 
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Language Log has many posts on popular books that claim there are brain differences between girls and boys, or that women talk more than men, but don't provide any evidence. Which is not to say that there are no differences, of course.
 
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