I remember being told as a young girl at school that the pronoun “he” is the default when the sex of the person is unknown or is used in a general way. The default human was male. Females were the exception. I accepted this rule as a linguistic quirk, but the idea of it also burrowed into my skin. The desired sex must be male. Females were an afterthought, not the assumption. Writing about women was less common, so female pronouns were less necessary. This rule explained a lot.
As I got older I noticed that there were times when a female pronoun was used, when the nameless person being referred to was assumed to be female. If it was a nurse, it was a “she” even though men were also nurses. Often teachers, particularly those in non-STEM lower education were assumed to be female. Child-care providers were also relegated to female pronouns. Suddenly it seemed that there was something else going on. Female pronouns were only used when men were considered a remote possibility, a decided minority. When women and men participated equally in a profession, male pronouns were used.
In adulthood, I noticed that Star Trek captains were referred to as “sir” even if they were women. “Sir” was the designation of respect for the leader of the starship. It felt both right (adding gravitas to women) and wrong (giving women the borrowed feathers of male authority) .
As I watched Elizabeth Warren’s campaign go from front-runner to non-starter in a few short weeks and my dream of a female president during my lifetime died yet again, an idea occurred to me. What if we only referred to the President of the United States as “she” or “her”? Would that change how we view the office? Would some men self-select out because of their view of women as less than men? Would it reveal and even alter the hidden sexist assumptions that have prevented people from voting for a woman (or worse–the belief that other voters are sexist and that because they won’t vote for a woman, I’d better not either, even though I prefer the female candidate, e.g. the electability argument).
I was discussing Warren’s failed bid when my friend pointed out that she was far from perfect as a candidate. I about lost my mind! Far from perfect? Compared to Trump who literally boasted of sexually assaulting women? Compared to Biden who sniffed women’s hair and offered to fist-fight someone in one of his audiences and called someone a dog faced pony soldier? Compared to Sanders who is ancient and just had a heart attack a few months ago?? Just how perfect does she have to be?
My friend added that only one in ten women in her home state voted for her. I’m not sure why we are separating the women and men who voted for her (no candidate wins on strictly one demographic’s vote, and lots of women are sexist), but some contributing factors to losing her home state were related to how the media covers the candidates, assuming the men will prevail and often ignoring the women candidates, giving the men a lot more latitude for mistakes, and of course there’s the momentum achieved in earlier states. Additionally, women are perceived to be more liberal than men even when their policies are aligned. We have a constant barrage of “just not her” syndrome in which voters can’t explain why they don’t like her. They just don’t.
So here’s an example of what that might sound like. From an article in the Atlantic:
At moments of national crisis, there is a strong instinct to support the president’s leadership. In the media, this instinct expresses itself in the impulse to suppress our knowledge of the president’s history and character, and to report on her the way we would have reported on her predecessors. But just as the president has a duty, so do we. Our duty is to describe things as they are, not as we would wish them to be.
That’s one type of example, talking about the office in general and assuming female pronouns. This is a simple change, one that we should test out across the board. I’ve begun attempting to favor female pronouns whenever I don’t know the sex of the person. “I’m not sure when the exterminator will get here, but can you let her in the back?” or “Do you have a hematologist you would recommend? What’s her name?”
Here’s taking that idea even further. See what you think.
The coronavirus is a powerful force, but it is not powerful enough to transmute Donald Trump into a different person from the one she was before the crisis. So when we talk about the president and her protracted refusal to test, we should not write about that decision as if the president who were refusing the test were a figure from Mount Rushmore. It’s Trump. Why did she delay such an urgent health precaution for so long?
So why would that also help us to finally have a female president? Well, there are some men who would object to a female pronoun as a condition of the job, and I say to those potential presidents “Good riddance!” If you think it’s shameful to be a woman, when women have always been asked to tolerate male pronouns, then you are probably too insecure and misogynistic to be president. We have too many men in politics, particularly in the Republican party, who feel entitled to weigh in on women’s health without even a rudimentary understanding of it. I suspect many of them would not want to take a job with female pronouns, and if they are legislating about women’s concerns, that’s a problem.
If you think all men would object to female pronouns, let’s be clear: that’s a problem. I can think of one who would be totally chill with them: Jean-Luc Picard. He would not object to female pronouns if those were the ones used for the office. If we are electing leaders who fall short of the Picard standard (and you know we are), we should expect more. Unfortunately, we’re in a situation where a mediocre man with serious flaws can easily best some very remarkable women.
- Do you think this would move the needle on sexism in voting?
- Would you take the extra step of using female pronouns for a sitting president to discourage seriously sexist men from running or do you think that’s a form of deadnaming? (I mean, it is, but still).
- Will you commit to using female pronouns as the default or at least to attempting more egalitarian pronouns? (Baby steps)
 Case in point, Oaks’ explanation of how women use the priesthood in our callings. Novel approach, but still, I don’t feel like it’s quite right. It’s still a male default rather than a model of female leadership. How does Heavenly Mother get stuff done? Borrowed light? There’s no female power?
I love the effort to use female pronouns as default. As far as using female pronouns for the sitting president, whoever it is: what I like about it is that is a diabolical paradigm flip, and that it would certainly agitate the most sexist people and provoke conversation. I think it could misfire in a couple ways. First, I think it could be insincerely adopted by trolls only while complaining about the president, to reinforce equating femininity with failure. (Similar to ‘pussy’ or ‘sissy’ as insults applied to men.) Second, I think it would be very easy to frame such an effort as evidence that, for example, feminists are hypocritical (only use preferred pronouns in some situations) or irrational and chaotic (people who don’t consider gender to be binary are just spouting confused, arbitrary nonsense anyway). I also think, in the tr*mp example, the pronoun mismatch would be distracting enough that people would miss the actual content of the statement.
A true female knows how to get things done behind the scenes without the male even realizing it. A tr4ue female doesn’t care about he and she pronouns ,she just cares that she has got the right thing done. No honor needed.
Tulsi is still in the race and I’d vote for her in a second.
I’ve been using non-gendered pronouns like “they” for a while because I wouldn’t want t be called “she” and so I assume that a woman wouldn’t want to be called “he”. It’s not much harder to say “you all” verses “you guys”.
When God speaks She should be heard! She is more than He because She contains he. Man sits behind woman.
My reaction to the idea is that it’s terrible. Referring to Donald Trump as a “she” even indirectly is just going to spark a backlash to your social engineering, including from me. If you want gender parity via pronoun, it makes a lot more sense to eliminate gendered pronouns. And we need a new word. Referring to non-binary people as “they” when it’s a single person drives me nuts.
Incidentally, I really didn’t like Warren as a candidate. She came off like an overly liberal yapping chihuahua, and spent way too much time appealing to outrage (which is probably why all my outraged feminist acquaintances love her). I’ve been told that describing her that way is sexist, and maybe it’s true and maybe it’s not, but I guess I’ve gotten to the point that I just don’t care. I was in Klobucher’s camp for a long time and it made me sad when she dropped out, but at least it killed Bernie’s momentum.
Tulsi Gabbard got blacklisted from both political parties. I will vote for Tulsi.
Andy: “I wouldn’t want t be called “she” and so I assume that a woman wouldn’t want to be called “he”.” Well, sure, but just to be clear, every woman you know has been called “he” her whole life. Here’s a very quick example. Consider the scripture “Men are that they might have joy.” Does that mean only men or does it also mean women? Women are supposed to contort references to men to determine which ones are also about us and which ones are not. In the scriptures, women are often not even an afterthought. If you were to ask if that scripture means men & women, most people would scoff at you and say it was a ridiculous question and of course it includes women. But if you did the same thing with a scripture about priesthood they would scoff at you and say of course it doesn’t include women! Even though the language chosen in the same.
Martin: Yes, your rationale for disliking Warren sounds to me like classic hidden sexism, particularly that you say she’s overly liberal and describe her voice as a yapping chihuahua. Obviously, Sanders likewise appeals to outrage, though, and you don’t seem to like him either, so it’s not *just* sexism that prevents you from liking her. (Personally I found her takedown of Bloomberg to be relentless, level-headed and even in tone). That’s the thing about sexism. It’s not usually the only thing at play, but it’s very hard to pin down and eradicate. I’m glad you liked Klobuchar, and I hope this thought experiment gives you some pause (as it does me) when you consider your own and others’ motives.
Marrissa: Agreed, and that’s the thing I’d want to avoid. It’s telling that to a man, being referred to as a woman is the ultimate insult, but the reverse is just women being over-sensitive.
connie Brower: I saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding too. Soft power (manipulating those with actual power toward one’s aims) is all that’s left to people who are disempowered by systems. That doesn’t mean it’s the best way to make change happen. If we have to trick and cajole those in power against their will, we haven’t really created lasting change for ourselves.
My biggest beef with men being so averse to female pronouns is that they are disproportionately representing the interests of women in legislation while finding the female so off-putting that they can’t handle association with our pronouns. How is it that 51% of our country is female, but over 75% of our legislators are male? Given this scenario, we should not want any legislators who feel women are second class, and yet that is probably still the secret norm.
Devaluing women, erasing them, and not seeing them as human is a massive problem. As you’ve pointed out, this manifests in language use all the time. When university students graduate, they are alumni (masculine plural) not alumnae. When we are talking about Hollywood stars, they are actors not actresses. The pejoration or devaluation associated with feminine terms can be seen across languages. For example, the following gendered terms used to be analogous, but only the feminine ones took on a pejorative meaning or became associated with lesser roles:
So a mistress now refers to the woman a man has an affair with. Spinster refers to an old unattractive unmarried woman. Governesses were educators for women, while governors run states. How many times has someone said to a guy something like, “hey lord, watch where you’re going” where we commonly hear a “hey lady, watch where you’re going”?
There is no such thing as the generic “he” because men aren’t the default human. I don’t know why our society and church can’t handle there being more than one standard of human. It’s incredibly poor journalism for articles to use “he” to describe a hypothetical person or role.
And amen to your point about applying the priesthood to women. The church’s rebranding effort in this regard is ridiculous. It’s like if you go back 6 years or more, women were accomplishing their visiting teaching through inspiration from the Holy Ghost and the enabling power of the Atonement. Now they accomplish it through priesthood power and authority. The priesthood, which the church has taken great pains to establish as a male-only authority source from a male-only God all of the sudden is the key to placating questions about why women aren’t treated as fully human in our church. But of course the solution to treating women more human is to treat them more like men and imbue them with male power. This power should never have been associated with gender to begin with. Women will never be truly equal until men worship a female God and finally understand that the potential of women and men is the same. We’ve made God in the image of our own fallen society, where men are true human beings and women are other.
I recently read “The Second Mountain” by David Brooks and I realized that he was alternating pronouns between he and she for sentences that were not referring to a specific person. It was striking when it was noticeable and when It was not. It was an interesting book in general but reminded me again of the subtle effects of male gendered language.
Angela C, just to clarify, it wasn’t Warren’s voice I was comparing to Chihuahua, it was her political style. I suspect she’s probably a nicer person than Klobucher (judging from Klobucher’s reported treatment of staff), but Klobucher had a much more balanced policy and political approach. That said, I have found that when listening to audio books, if I’m really turned off by the reader, it’s more often a woman doing the reading than a man. But I’m not convinced that’s really misogyny.
I have no problem switching between he and she for generic positions — I’m all for that. I do that in my own writing. I just don’t like the idea of assigning a default “she” to a position, and it’d be particularly bad when referring to the current holder of the position when it happens to be a man. We really need a generic, singular pronoun set for people (and animals, I guess), since “it” is dehumanizing.
In the old days, the King of France was referred to as “Sa Majesté,” which translates into English as “Her Majesty” — the noun “Majesté” is feminine and always takes a feminine pronoun (even when referring to the King), and “Son Majesté” just could not work. So, maybe the world hasn’t always been as bad as the original posting makes out.
BTW the statue on top of the Salt Lake Temple lost her horn today.
I write video scripts (training, educational, promotion) for an industry that is traditionally male but is actively recruiting women. Their target consumer audience is 60%+ female. It’s been interesting to see attitudes evolve over the last 15 years. At first, any technical/expert roles had to always be men. Wanting to get some female pronouns into one script I worked in a female doctor. The client said, “You made the doctor a woman.” “Yes, four of the last five doctors I’ve seen in the last couple of years have been women.” “Yeah, but we don’t want to convey that that’s normal.”
Nowadays, most clients are great with having women play expert roles. I use “they” and “them” when referring to off-screen experts. While not strictly grammatically correct, it is well accepted, non-offensive to those that don’t have an axe to grind, and is more inclusive.
When I have the occasion to attend LGBTQ+ related events, I’m usually asked for my preferred pronouns. You often see the pronouns on nametags. I like this because I don’t have to guess, have an opportunity to be affirming, and don’t risk causing an unintentional hurt.
You and I may not have an intellectual understanding of why someone’s pronouns are preferred or an appreciation of the emotional support they feel when hearing their preferred pronouns. Maybe we are even put off a bit by the concept. But, it costs next to nothing to use someone’s preferred pronouns. And there is no justification for the hurt we cause – even if it’s a little hurt – by insisting on imposing the pronouns we choose for them rather than the ones they choose for themselves.
If we even-handedly apply this concept, I would have to oppose imposing pronouns for positions or classes even in the name of righteously righting past wrongs.
A lot of heat in the post and comments, but with the certain knowledge that I am adding fuel to the flames, I absolutely have to weigh in on “yapping chihuahua.” A marvelous phrase absolutely guaranteed to provoke a fight! It is Bernie Sanders who is the yapping chihuahua, not EW! Still preaching revolution as though it were the 1930s, as we try to come to grips with coronavirus. The man is incapable of shutting up. It is NOT coincidental that his initials are BS. Yap yap yap, indeed.
How to describe EW? I can’t think of any good, snarky zingers off-hand, but give me time. I just know that to me, EW exudes a demagogic, us-against-them pandering to the worst instincts of the electorate—a wealthy liberal who claims to be fighting for the poor. She and her self-righteousness instinctively arouse my mistrust.
By comparison, Joe Biden, whose positions I had never much cared for, has begun to look good, particularly after the S-B debate on 15 March, in which JB emphasized seeking urgent solutions to the pandemic, not revolution. As a former Republican conservative, I would vote for Biden over the current Psycho-in-Chief, any day. Biden-Klobuchar sounds good to me. So what about the stories about her poor treatment of staff? I am speaking seriousLy. She has a reputation as a consensus builder. EW does not. Our country needs some healing, and EW does not do consensus. She is like BS in that regard.
It should be noted that pronouns in a language don’t seem to have a relationship to sexism. In Persian, the official language of Iran where sexism is very strong, the words he, she, and it are the same word: “o”. “O raft” means he went, she went, and it went. Hindi is the sane thing, no gendered pronouns, vo means he she and it. Yet northern India (where Hindi is most widely spoken) has some serious sexism problems. And don’t interpret me as saying that Indians and Iranians are inherently sexist. They aren’t.
On politics (sorry can’t help it), I’m glad Biden will very likely (99 out of 100 percent chance on Nate Silver’s 538 blog) be the nominee. He is the most popular among blacks (getting the black vote and getting blacks out to vote is crucial to win most people states), people know who he is, and people associate him with Obama (one of the most popular men in the US now). Most voters don’t follow policy that closely and the news moves too fast for anyone to remember details of this or that issue. People cultivate a general image in their minds and vote based on that. Bernie was too pie-in-the-sky and anti-establishment, which works for Republicans, but not Democrats. Democrats who aren’t millennials like the establishment and have fond memories of the Clintons and Obama. Republicans completely rejected Bush 43 after 2008, as well many establishment Republicans. The Tea Party movement took hold and revealed a strong anti-establishment sentiment among Republican voters. Warren was a great thinker and teacher. She was not a great politician. And being a woman made it more of an uphill battle. It sank Hillary and would probably sink her too. Biden being a well-known white male with major party clout is better designed survive whatever fake scandal charges Trump and conservative media goons will inevitably throw at him. For the Democrats aren’t trying to convince conservatives to vote for them, they are trying to get the bothsidesers (folks who erroneously think that both sides are equally bad and have a very hard time understanding nuance and detail) to show up to vote. And the aim of the conservative media is to discourage the bothsidesers from voting and convince them that both Trump and whatever Democrat are equally corrupt, nasty, or whatever and that voting is not worth their time or to vote for some irrelevant third party. And I think Biden has a better chance with the bothsidesers simply being white male. The bothsidesers are more likely to overlook the fake Ukraine scandal than the fake email scandal for Hillary. For these folks are not deep thinkers and go with their guts based on a general image. Many of them are still beholden to sexist tropes embedded in American culture and simply being a woman is a disadvantage with them.
A few (hopefully well-reasoned, rather than snarky) thoughts.
Despite its complexity, I like German grammar. Angela Merkel is always referred to as Bundeskanzlerin. The -in shows that she is female. German grammar requires the -in suffix for a woman in a profession. As a child growing up in Germany after WW2, which had decimated Germany’s male population, most dentists and many doctors were women. before that started becoming common in the US. So I often paid a visit to “Frau Doktor” (that is actually a gender-neutral noun in German, but the title is always preceded with a Mr. Or Mrs.)
Thai grammar identifies the gender of the speaker by the first person pronoun that he or she uses, as they refer to self: a man refers to himself as phom; a women refers to herself as dichan.
Chinese has dozens of ways to refer to jade, but the third person singular pronoun for he, she, and it is just “ta.” Maddening in spoken Chinese. Recent additions to the written language can specify which gender is being referred to.
(Reverting to my silly self for a moment: in English, how about the word h’or’sh’it as a gender-inclusive pronoun? This subject is worthy of discussion, but there is too much anger in my opinion. Points are usually better made with some humor.)
I understand the desire to have a language move away from male-default pronouns. It is a good thing. But I will probably generically refer to exterminators as “he,” because that is a profession overwhelmingly staffed by men. There are exceptions, but that is what they are—exceptions. Likewise nurses and women. Doctors are increasingly women, so pronouns will gradually follow. With teachers, it depends on which level of education is involved: most elementary schools are women. High school teachers are largely male. As society evolves, and gender ratios in professions evolve, our use of pronouns will also evolve. The use of “he” as a generic reference is starting to shift toward more gender-inclusive norms. David Brooks’ book was helpful.
As a man writing from a male perspective, I will probably write, “The analyst, in his approach to the subject…” A woman will probably choose to write, “The analyst, in her approach….”
One of my favorite movies is “Hidden Figures.” Story of three African-American women who broke color and sex barriers in the 1950s and 1960s, in the space program. They did so because they were good at what they did and worked hard. The three heroines expressed anger a few times in the movie, but did not let that keep them from their main goal of getting ahead in male-dominated professions. As Katherine Goble said in the movie, women are computers at NASA, not because they wear skirts, but because they wear glasses.
Taiwan Missionary: I loved Hidden Figures, too, but I would describe the differences between men & women a little differently than how you described the women. What I saw in the portrayal was that the women weren’t where they were because they “worked hard” and were “good” at what they did. These women were incredibly exceptional, to a far higher degree than their male cohorts (the 3 lead women anyway, not so much Kirsten Dunst’s role). The men in the movie were so pervasive in the workplace, so common, that on the whole they were pretty average or even mediocre. They didn’t have the creativity or intelligence of these exceptional women. What I saw was that in a male dominated environment where 2% or fewer are women, and where women are seen as expendible and less than, the women must be better that all other women and nearly all men as well to even get the respect afforded to the most mediocre men and to get a seat at the table, and even then, they’d better be ready to handle sabotage from jealous peers, being overlooked and dismissed by others, and having bosses take credit for their work while viewing them as the first to go if the belts tighten.
Unfortunately, that’s how POTUS seems to work as well. You would have to be basically perfect and look like Charlize Theron and have an IQ of 300 while perfectly balancing home and family and never have made any mistakes in your past and somehow be invulnerable to invented scandals that aren’t even true to be able to survive the primary and win the election.
“They did so because they were good at what they did and worked hard. The three heroines expressed anger a few times in the movie, but did not let that keep them from their main goal of getting ahead in male-dominated professions.”
The issue nowadays is not that women or minorities can’t get ahead in the work world, it is that they have to work much harder and be much more lucky than the average male to get ahead in most fields. Progress on women, minority, and gay rights has only come because of carefully channeled anger and outrage at the prevailing cultural norms of times past. The labels of racist, sexist, and homophobe have been one of the most effective tools in altering traditional cultural attitudes and achieving progress. People don’t like being called sexist, even if they are sexist. It’s effective even if it is used too gratuitously sometimes.
A few random thoughts.
I think your assessment of Hidden Figures is pretty accurate. Reading your comment called to mind something I noticed serving as a missionary in Taiwan between 1977-1979. The missionary force was about 80 percent Elders and 20 percent Sisters. That had the practical effect of making sister missionaries more visible, since they were a minority: they had a reputation, fair or not, of either being very good or very bad; not many were perceived to occupy the average middle. The Elders, on the other hand, could and often did hide in the big lump of the majority. Some were outstanding and some were terrible, but many were just sort of anonymously there, plodding along. Women didn’t have that “luxury.”
It used to be that way in politics: there were so few women that the occasional Senator or Representative really stood out. Now that there are (26?) female Senators and more than 100 Representatives, they are much more “normal,” although most skew liberal.
I agree that double standards still do exist in evaluating female candidates. But while I might agree with you that EW was subjected to double-standards, that does NOT in my opinion constitute a reason to support her. Now that I have had time to think of a “snarky zinger,” I would characterize EW as a modern version of the old-fashioned snake-oil peddler. Most of the male candidates worse. Biden and Klobuchar the closest versions of sane politics, in my opinion.
BTW, the piranhas of the progressive commentariat are now going after Kamala Harris for non-progressive things she did as Calif. Sec. State. The attitude seems to be that women candidates are fine, IF they are “pure” in ideology. In my opinion, so-called progressivism is a carnivorous ideology. (Now that I am no longer a conservative, I just think I am contrarian.) My favorite modern English writer is the ex-socialist George Orwell, who delighted in speaking truth to power, both in the right and the left.
I remember a female professor of English in college getting angry with me, as she was advocating studying important women in literature and politics; I committed the faux pas of suggesting adding Ayn Rand and Margaret Thatcher to the list. Clearly, conservatives and libertarians were not welcome.
Thanks for the exchange of thoughts.
Your comment to my comment came in as I was typing my reply to Angela.
Respectfully disagree that most progress on rights for gays, women’, and minorities came because of outrage. In my opinion, progress came mostly because perceptions changed, and people became aware that accepting chAnges was economically beneficial.
Taiwan Missionary: I went through an Ayn Rand phase when I was young, too, (what teen doesn’t like to imagine they don’t owe anyone anything?), and as a B.A. in English, I don’t think it’s her conservatism that disqualifies her. She’s a better (?) philosopher than author, or at least her ideas merit discussion more than her plots and characters. Her literature doesn’t really hold up on literary merit. Her characters are caricatures. She also idealizes rape which is problematic at best.
I’m not sure to what extent outrage fuels progress. It does seem to coincide with it. I would say that where there is outrage, the discussion and awareness are probably also changing, not fast enough for those affected (hence the outrage), but where there’s outrage, there’s an increase in awareness. And of course women skew liberal! As a traditionally disempowered, sidelined group women are often more aware of social injustice and inequality for similarly disempowered groups, and that’s the left platform in the US, not the right. Conservatives like and benefit from the status quo. Those who are hurt by the status quo tend to fight it.
You are of course referring to the infamous rape scene in The Fountainhead. Rand referred to it as “rape by engraved invitation.” (Gag.) And the sex scenes in Atlas Shrugged have sadistic elements, despite their consensual nature.
So, a question for you: why is the scene in Gone With the Wind, in which Clark Gable storms up the staircase with Vivian Leigh in his manly crushing grip, ready to have his will with her, and she wakes up the next morning purring like a contented cat in cream—why is that scene still so popular? And I think it is more popular among women than men, although it is certainly not to my liking.
And what about 50 Shades of Grey? Why is that popular?
I am not trying to be provocative, here. I am genuinely curious.
Looking forward to your thoughts.
Taiwan Missionary – not just in her books. In her affair with Nathaniel Branden she also wanted their sexual encounters to be like an enactment of a rape. She obviously had some demons with which to wrestle. She admired her husband Frank O’Connor, but he didn’t fit her fantasy. As to why Gone with the Wind is “still” so popular, I don’t think it is popular among my contemporaries or younger (sexism and racism are both huge problems in that film), but rape culture is pervasive, and many many early movies portray manliness as sexual aggression and predation with women secretly admiring them for it and loving the idea of succumbing to them. Personally, I think it’s a fantasy that is complementary to a specific type of male sexuality, one that is no longer considered normal and healthy. And obviously most of those movies from that era were made by male studio heads. Lucille Ball took things in another direction with her studio, but that was late in the game.
As to 50 Shades of Grey, sexual bondage is a thing that appeals to some. I can’t say why. Not my jam. I don’t consider it to be a widespread norm, though. I’ll just say that from my childhood (and certainly before that) women are taught that their role is to be attractive so men will desire them (and support them or buy them things), whereas men are taught that they have to be high earning and high achieving so that women will desire them. If men are attractive, it’s a bonus (but a requirement for a woman). If a woman is high earning, though, it can either be a bonus (yay, more money for our partnership) or a threat to manhood (for those steeped in toxic masculinity).
Good reply! Thank you; don’t always agree with you (politics, for example), but always enjoy your thoughts, and they help me form my own. I would add that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Men have traditionally held the power, so they have traditionally abused. As women move into positions of power, they will also become abusers of that power.
As a minor example, I lived in the Baltimore suburbs for 35 years; the Mayor, Catherine Pugh, was just convicted of using her official position to influence mass buying a of a children’s book she had written, to the tune of profits approaching one million dollars.. I hope your assessment about GWTW and Rand prove correct, that their tastes are now less popular.
There are masculine and feminine ways of abusing power. The masculine version that immediately comes to mind is General Patton of WW2: a great fighter, but a miserable overly-testosteroned human being. The feminine version that pops to mind is Dolores Umbridge.
Will those archetypes change as more women move into positions of power?
Taiwan Missionary (4:13pm),
Of course perceptions changed. But something had to prompt those changes. I don’t see how we can explain the evolution of perceptions and attitudes about race, gender, and sexual orientation without considering the role of activism, protests, journalism, and a collective ridicule and strong disapproval of old norms. On your point about everything being economic, employers didn’t have economic incentives to raise wages for women and minority employees, and LGBTQs aren’t a big enough percentage of the population for acceptance of them to matter that much for good business (with a small few exceptions). Carefully channeled collective outrage has been a vital factor in changing our cultural landscape.
Biologically, female is the default setting for humans. The female egg contains an X chronometer, the male sperm contributes either another X or a Y chromosome. A fertilized egg will develop female sex characteristics unless there is the Y chromosome to alter that.
I thought that’s what I said metaphorically.
A fertilized egg will develop male sex characteristics unless there is a second X chromosome to alter that.
also with the “traditional family” with mother at home and dad away all day, the default of child development is female. The young boy has to fight for his identity as male. He has to reject his first and main love object (his mother) to begin to identify with his father to form his male identity. This struggle is supposedly harder for boys than girls who get to keep their primary love object as they identify themselves as female. This leads to a theory that the male identity is more fragile than the female, thus men defend their masculinity where women are much more secure in being female. So, you end up with men being highly insulted to be called or compared to a girl, where it isn’t at all threatening or insulting , in fact often a complement, to call a girl a Tom boy, or for girls to wear male clothing, or to be compared to a male. You throw like a girl is an insult when hurled at a boy. But you throw like a boy is a complement when told to a girl.
So, back to the whole language thing, women see themselves as the same species as men, so we are not irate at things saying “men are that they might have joy.” We are the same species, so we include ourselves. But men would not include themselves if the scripture said, “women are that they might have joy.” And it is not just linguistic, but psychological. Men differentiate from their first love to say they are men. So they establish manhood on “I am different than female (default)” but the girl forms her identity as “I am the same as female (default)” so this male identity exaggerates sexual differences, while the feminine identity minimizes sexual differences.
Men insist on gender roles being normal/inherent/ absolute to a greater extent than do women. (On average) Fathers socialize their children into gender roles much more than the mother does. This has been shown in studies that compare how women treat children as compared how men treat children.
So, I don’t think our language developed the way it did by accident.
Anna, very interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing!
I assume there are a bunch of “scholarly” writings that deal with these issues, that back up what you say. I just want to say that what you wrote makes sense to me, and that I appreciate your including it in this discussion thread. It certainly tracks with what I experienced growing up as a boy in the 50s and 60s, and playing with my friends. with my own Children, we tried to be progressive parents. Gave dolls to the boys, who use them to hit each other, ages 2-3. Gave fire trucks to the girls, who played house with them, same age. It is no accident, as you said, that language has developed the way it has.
I saw more positive coverage for Warren than for either Sanders or Biden during the bulk of the campaign. Sanders had a lot of commentators trying to steer democrat voters away from him. Biden had significant talk about Ukraine and his son plus many of his verbal mistakes highlighted. Not a lot of overt sexism in the news coverage that hurt Warren. In fact, the 2 least challenged candidates early on were a Harris and Warren.
The biggest mystery is why Biden went from 10% In polling to over 50% in voting in just 3 days. I have my suspicions but little concrete to prove them. If Biden keeps his promise and has a female VP running mate, she could easily be the first female president. Biden has been slowing down and is no sure thing to last 4 years as president.
Maybe I’m a outlier. I had a dolls pram as a child. What I did was turn it upside down, spin the wheels and pretend I was the local butcher making sausages.( When I was very young we had a local butcher who would mince your meat and make sausages before your very eyes. I was fascinated.) In my first year of junior school (so age 7), my teacher would allow boys who got on with their work and finished well to play with meccano. I knew I was as good as those boys but I was never invited by my teacher to play with meccano. Instead I was allowed to read, which I do enjoy. It was years before I realised it was likely because I was a girl that I didn’t get access to the meccano, and at age 7 it never occurred to me that I could ask.
At age 5 I spent several days in hospital for eye surgery. I was pretty disgusted to be offered the baby doll to play with by the nurses. It didn’t interest me at all.
I recall one of my brothers crying one year because relatives would by my sister and I dolls for our birthday, but no one bought one for him. He now has 9 children and is a brilliant hands on dad. I have 2, which is just as many as I can cope with.
el oso, Well, I hope if Biden is the nominee and picks a woman running mate he picks a good one There were conservative Republicans who voted for Obama out of fear of McCain’s health and Sarah Palin.
To my knowledge, a single Y fertilized egg does not exist. I wonder if it is possible? Perhaps in a Petri dish.
About 1 in 200,000 fertilized eggs contain a single X chromosome. This occurs when the X or Y from the sperm does not transfer, or transfers incompletely. People born with this condition have Turner syndrome. They are female.
“Turner syndrome is a rare chromosomal disorder that affects females. The disorder is characterized by partial or complete loss (monosomy) of one of the second sex chromosomes.” https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/turner-syndrome/
Are you suggesting that Turner syndrome females are the default setting for humans? Hardly complementary to either humans generally or to female humans. Though highly variable, many with Turner syndrome do not develop normal female characteristics and organs — at least not without hormone therapy. Good luck with your argument.
Girls and women with Turner syndrome are children of God. Your remarks would apply to any person with a genetic disorder. How do you think the god you worship feels about your marginalizing them? Why would you worship and adore such a god?
Your first response to my comment made no sense. Your viewpoint is horrid. I hope this is a wake up call for you.
Sasso, You have quite an imagination about my viewpoint. You in fact know nothing about my viewpoint.
Donald is a he, Angela is a she. Your mileage may vary an that’s okay; it’s your mileage.