Request for books/articles on gender words

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Tue Feb 9 13:56:22 UTC 2010

I would be very lucky indeed to get a response such as yours from one
of my students after giving the reading. These are all excellent
points, and the topic is one of those that relates to that nebulous
concept of the interaction of language and the culture. I'm going to
be giving my students the reading along with a bunch of others on
related topics when I assign them the research proposal, hoping that
they will spur some controversy, curiosity, or inquiry.

Like you, Jon, I'm one of those who wonders if the move to "he or
she" really does result in real-world equity. And given McWhorter's
conservatism, I was surprised to find that he finds the use of "he"
as a generic pronoun sexist.

If we return to the examples that the student gave, I agree with you
that the insult of "throwing like a girl" imposes cultural
assumptions on the boy just as much as they do on the girls.

---Amy West

>One reason the entire subject of "sexism" bugs me so much is that in
>addition to serious and valuable research and thought on the subject (mostly
>by sociologists and historians), there seems to be a sea of foolishness,
>generally accepted and promoted by the news media, that all "sexism" is one
>thing, that identifying "sexism" in language is of tremendous importance
>and shows how smart the identifier is, that all possible sexism flows in one
>direction, and that all "sexism" (including the Chicks and the Rams) by
>definition requires "fixing."
>I'd just make considerations like these clear to students.

The American Dialect Society -

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