Baby's an It (call of the obstetrician?)

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Sat Sep 13 12:44:26 UTC 2008

From:    "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>


> It continues: ' "It wasn't what he was expecting," Detective Nils
> Anderson of the Newton Police Department said outside John
> Tuckerman's three-story clapboard house on Moulton Street. "He saw
> the baby was sleeping peacefully, he touched it on the cheek, and her
> eyes opened. Cute little baby." '  (Sexism rampant, of
> course.)  Apparently for Detective Anderson babies are neuter until
> personal contact is established.

To verify sexism in this, you'd have to show that the same thing
wouldn't have been said for a baby boy.

In any event, the change from it to she may well have been the result of
free variation in how to refer to infants, or a gap in memory, or
precisely the reason given--we simply don't have enough data to tell.


David Bowie                               University of Central Florida
     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

The American Dialect Society -

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