Re: Gender bias (was Evolving language or laziness) (#772409)

Subject: Re: Gender bias (was Evolving language or laziness) (#772409)
From: Bill Burns <wburns -at- MICRON -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 19 Mar 1996 16:11:08 -0700

>This is going way, way off topic, but:

>On Mon, 18 Mar 1996, Tim Altom wrote:

>> My whole point is that even language that gives offense to a minority is
>> not, ipso facto, wrong, ill-advised or subject to immediate change. There
>> are always subunits of society that are put off by actions or language of
>> the majority, but that is not, by itself, a reason to change anything.

> Actions, Tim? You mean sitting in the back of the bus? Separate
>drinking fountains? I can see that some "subunits" of our society
>might be "put off" by those. I'm sorry, there ARE reasons to change some
>things, including the generic pronoun he.

>Mike Stiles
>mstiles -at- calpoly -dot- edu

I agree that it's time to put away our flamethrowers here and end the thread. I
don't think Tim believes that we should allow the status quo to dictate
oppressive behavior. Perhaps he needs to choose his words more carefully.
Nonetheless, he has a point about forcing changes in language. No matter what
words or conventions we change, people will make up new ways to denigrate each
other verbally until those people have a change in perspective (which means
maybe never). I think Tim's comments outside of the generic pronoun issue have
suggested clearly that he feels more important issues are at stake in the
equality debate to worry about how we use a single part of speech. Many others
have provided methods of alleviating the gender-specific pronoun issue without
sacrificing what they consider to be acceptable conventions. Let's let the
issue go at that and choose the method we prefer.

Bill Burns
Assembly Training and Documentation Supervisor
wburns -at- micron -dot- com


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