Re: Grad school (PhDs)

Subject: Re: Grad school (PhDs)
From: Richard elGurutm Howland-Bolton <reh1 -at- CORNELL -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1993 09:38:03 -0500

>Alun-->A little harsh. Michael's point, I suspect, is that it's
>presumptuous to assume that female readers are going to feel "included" in
>Thoreau's quotation, as it reads orginally. As a result, M.'s applied
>well-established citation practice to the quote to make that point without
>elaborating upon it.

>As for "the rest of us learned to spell and moved on to join the real
>world"--Well, it must be terrific to romanticize being tooooo busy to
>think about the way language influences our perception of the people,
>events, and actions that surround us (e.g., if I manage a department and
>describe my administrative support as "the girls," am I not making a bunch
>of assumptions about that group that I mightn't make if I described them
>as "my people?").

>Or am I simply being PC, like Michael....? Hmmm. Signed, Constantly struck
>by the anger that some folks towards folks who make attempts to be
>inclusive, rather than presumptive....

>> Michael Gos (but not Thoreau, who was not so politically correct) writes:
>> "Most (wo)men lead lives of quiet desparation" (sic)
>> ... whereas, the rest of us learned to spell and moved on to join
>> the real world.
>> ALUN W...

A few points

1) To me it looks as though Michael is suggesting that the phrase should
apply only to women, and not to men (as it originally did). What's
inclusive in that?

2) It seems to me that when you are removing the mote from your brother's
eye you should make damn sure that your own can pass muster.

3) Thoreau wrote "men"--use "men" or don't use the quotation. Don't use the
quotation and then bring attention to your superior opinion of yourself and
your times. Michael is probably not morally superior to Thoreau, nor are
our times to Thoreau's times.

4) A side issue, but the man-word used to be, from the earliest times till
relatively recently, considered quite inclusive enough. Our ancestors used
"mon" or "man" much more to mean "human" than we do. They used words for
males and females which have, in the case of the female been restricted (as
in wife) or subsumed into a compound (woman), and in the case of the male
been almost wiped out (were-wolf, or -geld survive in historical writing, a
lot of specialized terms are gone, and words from latin vir survive with
semantic shift--virility etc.)

5) I'm not anti-femanist. The fact of adult males loosing their virility
and taking over generic term, and the parallel development of "girl" from a
generic to a specific lead me to the obvious conclusion. I am just against
the rewriting of literature to conform to our notions of propriety. That
leads to the likes of Mr Bowdler and (sad to say) Mr Dodgson.

6) Next thing you'll be advocating the colourization of classic movies.


Richard E. Howland-Bolton Cornell University
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