TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:"man" "woman" terminology From:ENG396AK <eng396ka -at- EXPERT -dot- CC -dot- PURDUE -dot- EDU> Date:Tue, 2 Nov 1993 08:53:28 EST
Corinne Stefanick says
What do we think about "All men are created equal...."? They really didn't
> mean ALL men and they surely didn't mean women at all when talking about who
> has the right to own land and vote! I'm afraid I bought the notion for many
> years that "men" was a generic term for all of us until I learned
about women's suffrage battles that had to be fought for 50 years.
> Whether we like it or not, "men" doesn't mean all of us.
I was going to let the "man" "woman" terminology discussion slide
because I'm tired of pointing out the point you made very well in the
Historical/etymological arguments such as "I was taught that 'man' means "all
humans" or "that's the way the Germans did it" and the suggestions
that "'man was fine until recently'" ignore the historical power plays
which surround the acceptance of any language usage. Your example
brought that aspect of language home. It also reminded me that even though
I'm tired of explaining why "man" is not acceptable as a generic/universal
term for "human" and why using "man" as such excludes many women, I
shouldn't give in to my weariness. The point that "man" is not a
universal term is well worth making time and time again.
Some people may not be able understand that point,
being satisfied with a certain sense of language's political
innocence, but others may have not understand the political nature of
the "universal" masculine, a point your example, as I've said, make
clear. Thanks for that post. Sorry I chose to ignore the issue previously.
Dept of English
ballardk -at- mace -dot- cc -dot- purdue -dot- edu