Re: Grad school (PhDs)

Subject: Re: Grad school (PhDs)
From: Brad Mehlenbacher <brad_m -at- UNITY -dot- NCSU -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1993 21:38:49 -0400

> 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?

So "men" is inclusive (see point 3) and "(wo)men" is exclusive?
Interesting. Rings of the same logic I frequently hear arguing that the
he/his pronoun structure is just fine since he/his really includes
she/hers. Please. Ever read a book that uses only she/hers: made me feel
like I'd not been accounted for in its audience analysis (hey, but after a
few centuries, I'll get used to it, I'm told).

> 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.

I don't entirely follow the metaphor. But you're correct in highlighting
the danger of articulating a political reaction to a comment about
typographical errors.

> 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.

I tend to agree with your point here. Don't use the quotation. The issue
gets sticky though, e.g., a very bright feminist theorist buddy of mine
refuses to read Aristotle 'cause his "version" of reality/philosophy
completely overlooks the fact that nonwhites and females were virtually
"property" in his society (let's face it, at some level, there's good in
Aristotle for ALL humans). Certainly, her reaction seems extreme, but
perhaps not. Reminds me of an exchange I had the other day with a colleague
who commented that Shakespeare was remarkably perceptive about the human
condition (to which, I thought, not if you were a female or a Jew).

> 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.)

And historically, the etymology of wife equates to "country slut" or "the
female pair of the lower animals." Perhaps I'm missing your point. The
argument that language use contemporarily conceived as "gender-biased" or
"Eurocentric" once had a broader, more inclusive "meaning" presupposes
intentions upon Thoreau and his gang 'o' Guys that's patently untrue.
Those Guys, bless their brilliant hearts, enjoyed the privilege (depending
on one's point of view) of operating in a world where women and other
nonwhites _served_ them.

We _don't_, and I wish we'd admit it to ourselves and quick constructing
some Boogie-Woman swinging a PC-bat at us. Women simply want what we want:
a voice. Certainly, no one would call us _threatening_ or _dogmatic_ if we
took the same stance. When we _react_ to the contemporary threat to
_tradition_, it only reinforces my embarrassment that _tradition_ equals
my interests (i.e., the interests of a 30-ish-year-old white male).

Ohmagawd, I think I'm flamin' again, he/she said to him/herself....

> 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.

To close, 5 & 6 kind of fall under the same umbrella. No, I wouldn't
advocate colorization, but I would suggest that it's impossible for me to
watch "Guys & Dolls" without giggling. To be polite, it's "campy." To
some, it's clearly sexist, offensive, dated. Sorry, Frank S. Perhaps I
have too many articulate, energetic female colleagues.... Perhaps I'm
tired of divisions but find myself having to rearticulate them to stress
my point. Which is to say, Richard, propriety = opinion = something that
isn't established or based in historical "fact." Agreed. Nobody, except us
(boys) would possibly vote for a _return_ to the way things were, would they?

Just ramblin' after a loooong week. Enjoyable discussion, though; sorry to
those of you who want to compare the kerning capabilities of Frame versus
Interleaf.... Cheers, Brad

> richard

> Richard E. Howland-Bolton Cornell University
> Manager Publications Computing Publications Guru
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