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"I find "male" and "female"...not offensive, I guess, but definitely
kind of tacky - industry standard or not."
I don't understand why you find the terms "male" and "female" tacky. It's a
universal way to describing how one device is connected to another, be that
device a cable into circuit board, or a spark plug into a car engine (male
and female threads).
A quick search of Microsoft's Style Guide (Ver. 3) and an IBM Style Guide
(old one) only spoke about male and female in human terms...Chairperson or
Moderator instead of Chairman, Synthetic instead of Man-made, etc. There was
no entry for connector or physically connecting one device into another.
Apple stated that male should be referred to as a "plug" and female as a
"socket." Furthermore, Apple states that although a plug can be a connector
with prongs and pins, the connection device should be referred to as a
Thus if we follow Apple's logic, we can "Plug the ribbon connector's plug
into the motherboard socket J1."
If you find "male" and "female" uncomfortable, wouldn't the above be just as
uncomfortable? I'm asking this because of the PC angle, but from a technical
writer's need for clarity and the fact that many of our documents may be
written in English with an American understanding of terms, and then
subsequently translated to another language where those same terms may be
construed differently. If you find the terms tacky because of sexual
innuendo, then that is a personal problem; however, if you find those terms
tacky because they do not accurately describe what the reader is supposed to
do or see, then that is something altogether different.
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