Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Oh, man!


Another brilliant headline from the YDN:


Three join Yale Corp.
Newsweek editor, two top businessmen are appointed Univ. trustees

Problem is, one of those two "businessmen" is a woman. Listen up, editors: "man" is not an acceptable gender-neutral pronoun anymore.

5 comments:

Matthew said...

Ok, true, but why didn't you post the preferred gender-neutral term? Now no one's been educated, just told off.

Matthew said...

'-man' is not and never was a pronoun. It's a suffix. And 'man' is a noun.
So now, for real, what is the acceptable gender-neutral term? If your purpose in making this post was to educate people in the proper use of gender-neutral language, doesn't it make no sense not to have given them an alternative? If, on the other hand, your aim was just to label the YDN article as sexist instead of giving the benefit of the doubt to what was almost certainly a non-malicious editorial oversight, because you hold a grudge against the paper for sexist articles they've published recently, then
#1, that's petty and self-defeating, and
#2, why should the YDN editors give you the benefit of the doubt and continue to believe that you're at all literate even though you obviously can't tell the difference between the basic parts of English speech?

I don't think making language gender-neutral is petty at all. But I think that your apparent concern with it here just belies a pre-existing desire to discredit the YDN, and that's a little insulting to those of us who really care about linguistic sexism.

Anonymous said...

Your point that the YDN was sexist is also ridiculous because, if I recall correctly, that subhead ran under three large pictures of the new Corporation members. It's not like the YDN was trying to hide who was put onto the Corporation....

Maggie said...

Anonymous (overlooking the fact that you chose not to sign your name): I don't think sexism is always overt, and it is not being implied here that the YDN was trying to hide something. The point was more subtle: that gendered language is still around, and manifests itself in often laughable ways. Precisely! There WAS a picture. The clash of reality and language was visible and obvious!
Matthew: I don't think there is a great gender-neutral alternative here. Businesspeople is ok, but sounds a little weird and is long. I think the YDN could have used their titles, or some other description of their successes that did not use the male pronoun to apply to a group that includes a woman.
I don't hold a grudge; I just wanted to point out the incongruity of this choice to make a larger point about gender-neutral language. Not such a radical or ridiculous idea, in my book.

Maggie said...

PS. As for the charge that we are seeking to attack the YDN unnecessarily, neither of us want to "discredit" the newspaper. We are a blog that seeks to point out the sexism at Yale; the YDN is the main news-source about Yale. Thus it will be cited often. We have said before that the charge of nit-picking is one to which we will gladly plead guilty...