Monday, November 14, 2005

The dreaded "w" word

I just heard a radio interivew with a woman who heads a commission that will help determine how New Orleans is rebuilt. The host introduced her as the "chairman" of the commission, and when she came on the air, in an attempt to "do right," he asked her, "What do we call you, 'chairman' or 'chairperson'?"

Oh what lengths we will go to to avoid saying the word "woman," especially if it is part of a phrase having to do with authority. When radio and television hosts said stupid things like that in the 70's, it was bad enough. To do so now tells me all I need to know about how women have allowed our language--the most powerful cultural tool we have--to shut them out.

The guest was even worse. She said, "I get called different things. "Chairman" is like "humankind," so you can call me that.

No, it isn't. "Chairman" means that even if you are not a man, you must be referred to one if you happen to take on the "masculine" role of authority.

I want all male chairs to be called "chairwomen' and then I want to see how long it takes before they protest.


One of my friends is a Baha'i. That's a religion that believes in the equality of the sexes, supposedly. Their prayers don't reflect this, though... of course, all the nouns and pronouns are male. Once in awhile I attend devotional events with this friend, and when I am asked to read a prayer out loud during the service, I always convert the nouns and pronouns to the female forms or to a gender-inclusive term, like "humankind." The language of gender is the language of equality, and until we take control of it in whatever context our ordinary daily existence offers us, the status quo will remain the same. That means everybody has to stop referring to groups of people as "guys" too. Author Sonia Johnson coined a great variation of that term for women: "Hey you gyns!"

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:55 PM  

It is my goal to say "Hey, you gals!" to every mixed gender group I run into for the rest of my life.

By Blogger Diane, at 2:56 PM  

nike air max, red bottom shoes, oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton handbags, cheap ugg boots, christian louboutin, gucci handbags, longchamp handbags, ray ban outlet, michael kors outlet, nike outlet, christian louboutin outlet, ugg boots clearance, prada handbags, tiffany jewelry, oakley vault, ray ban sunglasses, cheap oakley sunglasses, longchamp outlet online, prada outlet, michael kors handbags, polo ralph lauren, louis vuitton outlet, ugg australia, louis vuitton, michael kors outlet store, louis vuitton outlet, jordan shoes, replica watches, michael kors outlet online, nike free, burberry outlet online, tiffany and co, christian louboutin shoes, ray ban sunglasses, ugg outlet, michael kors outlet online sale, michael kors outlet online, chanel handbags, burberry outlet online, kate spade outlet online, nike air max, oakley sunglasses, polo ralph lauren outlet, replica watches, tory burch outlet online

By Blogger oakleyses, at 12:40 AM  

north face pas cher, nike air max, nike free, vans pas cher, scarpe hogan, nike free pas cher, air max pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, air jordan, mulberry uk, converse pas cher, coach purses, michael kors uk, lacoste pas cher, longchamp pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, new balance pas cher, louboutin, hermes pas cher, michael kors outlet online, nike air max, ray ban pas cher, true religion outlet, coach outlet store online, ray ban uk, coach outlet, true religion jeans, timberland pas cher, oakley pas cher, nike air force, nike roshe, tn pas cher, ralph lauren uk, north face, michael kors canada, longchamp, true religion, true religion outlet, hollister, hollister uk, abercrombie and fitch, michael kors, nike roshe run, air max, burberry pas cher, coach outlet, lululemon outlet online, kate spade outlet, guess pas cher

By Blogger oakleyses, at 12:42 AM  

uggs canada, links of london uk, hollister canada, moncler, swarovski jewelry, moncler, ray ban, pandora jewelry, moncler, coach outlet, doke gabbana outlet, moncler, moncler, barbour, canada goose outlet, louis vuitton pas cher, michael kors handbags, louis vuitton canada, sac louis vuitton, montre femme, michael kors outlet online, pandora charms, toms outlet, ugg, canada goose pas cher, michael kors outlet, pandora jewelry, moncler outlet, juicy couture outlet, vans, ugg soldes, pandora uk, ugg, karen millen, sac lancel, converse, canada goose outlet, canada goose, canada goose, louis vuitton, marc jacobs handbags, canada goose, moncler outlet, supra shoes, converse shoes, air max, canada goose outlet, ugg boots, gucci, swarovski uk, barbour jackets

By Blogger oakleyses, at 12:44 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home