Re: Re[6]: Killer Language

Subject: Re: Re[6]: Killer Language
From: Matt Ion <soundy -at- NEXTLEVEL -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 1 Dec 1996 15:49:40 -0800

On Thu, 14 Nov 1996 08:41:30 -0500, Karl A. Hakkarainen wrote:

>My objection to the terms male and female is that they ascribe human gender
>qualities to inanimate objects.

One could argue that they ascribe inanimate objects' gender qualities
to humans, and thus should not be used to describe the differences
between men and women.

>I know that the terms are widely used and
>understood. I also know some people are embarrassed by the terms. So, if we
>can use other terms as valid and unambiguous alternatives, I prefer to do
>so. If we cannot, then we should use male and female to describe the

If other, less ambiguous terms are available and understandable within
a context, then there's no problem. As always, the problem arises when
the "best" (that is, the *most* appropriately or clearly descriptive)
term is deemed inappropriate and an alternative is sought. Such is the
attempt to replace male/female with plug/socket. Works fine if you're
talking about hooking your computer up to a wall-based power source.
Doesn't work so well if you're explaining which end of a serial cable
goes to the modem and which goes to the computer.

Your friend and mine,
<insert standard disclaimer here>

They shoot without shame / In the name of a piece of dirt
For a change of accent / Or the color of your shirt
Better the pride that resides / In a Citizen of the World
Than the pride that divides / When a colorful rag is unfurled
- Rush, "Territories"

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