'Women' as an adjective (was RE: sex or gender?)

Subject: 'Women' as an adjective (was RE: sex or gender?)
From: "Bailey, Doug S" <dsbailey -at- PO4 -dot- PCMAIL -dot- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 07:48:00 CST

Tammy's query on 'sex' vs. 'gender' reminded me of a
pet peeve of mine, one I've had for years.

The media will often identify someone's gender through the
use of the word 'woman' or 'women', as in "There are 30
women firefighters on the force." I had the understanding
that it is proper to use 'female' in these instances, as in
"There are 30 female firefighters..." In fact, it has been years
since I've last heard 'female' used in this way. Even 'men' or
'man' seems to be coming into vogue, though I do
remember hearing something like, "There are 70 male
firefighters on the force" not very long ago. This seems to be
a double standard, or perhaps the change has been slower in
regards to men.

Is this a result of feminist pressure?

Is this usage of 'women' or 'men' an accepted form? Has
this been the standard in 'proper' English, or has the media
adopted this change on their own?

Have I been attending the wrong schools all these years? :-)


Douglas S. Bailey, Technical Writer
System Software Documentation
Intergraph Corporation
Huntsville, AL 35894-0001

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