[Ads-l] Venus symbol is for gender not sex

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Sat Nov 2 17:50:40 UTC 2019

CNN reported last month that tampon brand Always will no longer have the female/Venus symbol on its package in recognition that not all tampon users associate with the symbol. This is an interesting development from what was surely a biological sex symbol to a gender symbol. 

1. https://tinyurl.com/yxsw8k94 <https://tinyurl.com/yxsw8k94>
Always is taking the female symbol off its packaging to be inclusive of transgender and nonbinary customers
Elizabeth Wolfe and Michelle Krupa, CNN
23 October 2019

Always sanitary products will remove the Venus symbol, historically used to represent the female sex, from its products to be inclusive of transgender and nonbinary customers.

Transgender activists and allies had publicly urged Procter & Gamble to redesign its pad wrapper without the gender symbol, a circle atop a cross. Among their arguments were that not all people who menstruate are women and that not all women menstruate.’

Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet_symbols#Venus <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet_symbols#Venus>) provides a citation that states that Linnaeus first used the copper/Venus symbol for biology. 

2. https://tinyurl.com/y3l3dgtx <https://tinyurl.com/y3l3dgtx> (PDF link)
The Origin of the Male and Female Symbols of Biology
William T. Stearn
Taxon, vol. 11, no. 4 (May 1962), p. 110

I have added the planet names next to the symbols in case the symbols do not come through properly. 

Their first biological use is in the Linnaean dissertation _Plantae hybridae xxx xxx sistit J. J. Haartman_ (1751) where in discussing hybrid plants Linnaeus denoted the supposed female parent species by the sign ♀ [Venus], the male parent by the sign ♂ [Mars], the hybrid by ☿ [Mercury]: ‘matrem signo ♀ [Venus], patrem ♂ [Mars] & plantam hybridam ☿ [Mercury] designavero’.

Benjamin Barrett (he/his/him)
Formerly of Seattle, WA
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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