Recent bulletins from the world of commerce: cricket chips, bed-hair mousse.
Archive for the ‘Language and gender’ Category
Gillian Burlingham writes to say that her partner Sariya has figured out why dinosaurs went extinct: they were all “he” and “him” . Just read any kids book or watch any kids’ video on dinos and you’ll see, Gillian says.
(I know, I know, if you asked the writers they would probably say that using forms of HE — he, him, his — in such cases is just treating HE as the 3sg generic human pronoun. But that’s a usage practice that has been very hard to justify for many decades, especially in children’s books, where the readers will take HE to denote males.)
So the dinosaurs in the world of children’s fiction endured their celibacy or enjoyed their same-sex revels (discreetly out of view of the kids, of course; think of the children!), but just as anti-gay groups warn about same-sex partnerships in real human beings, the dinosaurs had no way of reproducing, so the species died out.
So sad, and so unnecessary.
Three cartoons today, on diverse topics: Calvin and Hobbes on explanations, Zits on means of communication (again), Bizarro on word play turning on ambiguity.
Geoff Nunberg writes with this Google Ngram:
This shows the usage of gay (at least in the books Google samples) gently declining until roughly 1980 and then zooming up. The interpretation I’d provide here is that “old gay ‘merry’ ‘” was declining very slowly (it became “old-fashioned”), until “new gay ‘homosexual’ ” eventually took over massively. But others might have other interpretations.
The Dork Tower cartoon (by John Kovalic) from the 24th (a bit fuzzy from being blown up):
An AP story from the 16th: “Pa. exhibit traces history of female comic artists” by Kevin Begos:
It took a war to let the country’s female comic book artists break character.
A new exhibit at Pittsburgh’s Toonseum is celebrating the history of female comic artists, including those who began laying the groundwork 100 years ago and the female artists of the 1940s, when World War II sent many male artists overseas.
From Steven Levine, this remarkable advertising image:
Elsie the Cow, in a maid’s apron and nothing else — yielding a racy image — offering a very substantial breakfast. Smiling and dancing.
More on Elsie here.
I’ve posted this on Elizabeth Zwicky’s Facebook timeline, where it’s been appreciated. Now to give it a somewhat more permanent home, on this blog.
From the website One Last Blog on Nothing of 12/18/13, “One Weird Old Trick to Undermine the Patriarchy” by Michelle Nijhuis, beginning:
My five-year-old insists that Bilbo Baggins is a girl.
The first time she made this claim, I protested. Part of the fun of reading to your kids, after all, is in sharing the stories you loved as a child. And in the story I knew, Bilbo was a boy. A boy hobbit. (Whatever that entails.)