On Law & Order: Criminal Intent on cable this morning, an episode with a very familiar face that I couldn’t put a name to. The man turned out to be named Geoffrey Nauffts, but I still couldn’t place him. He’s a veteran actor on tv, in the movies, and on stage, as well as an award-winning playwright. And he’s openly gay. Here’s the playwright at his desk:
Archive for the ‘Language and gender’ Category
In today’s Dilbert, Alice complains about a sexual double standard on language use, with women held to a stricter standard than men:
Alice refers to, and rejects, two expectations of women: that they be supportive and cooperative (while men are expected to be competitive and challenging), and that they be the guardians of deceny (while men have licence to break the social rules of niceness). Both fair objections.
Of course, men with these expectations might be affronted and pained by women who flagrantly fail to respect them.
Today’s Zippy, which leads in several directions:
Zippy at the Bluebonnet Diner in Northampton MA, trading warning signs at the counter with an icon representing a (generic) person.
Stuff here: the diner; broasted chicken; warning signs; icons (for a man, for a person); punchline.
You can pick up a lot of random information in popular genres, like detective fiction and police procedural television shows. Murder mysteries are typically set in some small special world, so that you can learn a lot about that world: English change-ringing, say, in Dorothy Sayers’s The Nine Tailors. Similarly for episodes of cop shows (understood broadly). So yesterday I was treated to an hour’s drama on CSI: NY about the Lingerie Football League (as it was then), in season 6, episode 13 “Flag on the Play” (first broadcast on 1/20/10). Some LFL players in action, in real life:
An odd cross between sexualized display of the female body and athletic contest.
From the NYT Book Review of last Sunday (May 10th), bits from two reviews that caught my eye: Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts reviewed by Jennifer Szalai; and Speak Now by Kenji Yoshino (a memoir combined with analysis of the same-sex marriage case) reviewed by Lincoln Caplan. I haven’t read either book (though I’ve read and posted about other things by Yoshino). But I was intrigued by the reviewers’ comments.
A while back, a friend complained about people who referred to a man as a blonde: blonde is a French word, my friend said, and in French it can be used only for women. So He’s a blonde is a vulgar error. (Similarly for brunette.)
But we’re talking about English here, not quoting from French, so there’s no reason why English has to be used as if it were French. And there are good reasons not to use it that way, though the matter is very complex indeed.
Yesterday’s Dinosaur Comics, on remembering names:
The feminine counterpart to the name Peter is Petra, both ultimately from Greek πέτρος (petros) ‘stone, rock’, but there are also women called Pete — and some called Peter.
In the NYT Sunday Review 5/3/15, in “What Black Moms Know” by Yvonda Gault Caviness:
Thankfully, I am a black mom. Like many of my fellow sisters, I don’t have time for all that foolishness [about child-rearing].
I stumbled a bit on fellow sisters, though I understood that it was in no way contradictory; fellow here does not refer to a man or men, but to someone “sharing a particular activity, quality, or condition with someone or something: they urged the troops not to fire on their fellow citizens” (NOAD2). Still, the noun fellow is surely most frequently used for informal reference to a man or boy (there’s a fellow at the door), and this use can interfere with the (gender-neutral) ‘someone sharing an attribute’ use.