Feminism

Ask Surly Amy: Chair-People

Hi Amy

I belong to a professional association that still uses the term “chairman” for various elected positions in its bylaws etc. (although most chapters don’t use this term, preferring “chair). As a director for one chapter (and thus elected to represent my chapter at a national level), I’m trying to decide whether I should make issue of this and, if so, how.

My whole industry is pretty male dominated although a lot of progress has been made in the last decade or so. In addition, we have only recently started to make inroads with a younger crowd (I would estimate that the active membership is over 55).

Any thoughts? Is this an issue I should hang my hat on? Should I just focus on this being an archaic term that tells younger people that this is not a progressive organization or should I focus on the possible exclusionary aspect? (Note: I am the only female director and only 1 of 2 on the board of directors and executive council combined.)

~Kelly


Dear Kelly,

Yes, I think you should bring it up. I don’t think it is a huge issue and not one to step down from your position over but I think you should definitely state for the record that it is an archaic term that does not equally represent the members of the organization, audience or humankind. See what I did there? Yeah, we don’t use the term mankind anymore do we? No, we don’t and we shouldn’t be forced into showing respect for a gender specific title.

It is the position itself or the “chair” that is respect-worthy and that position’s title should be an umbrella term for anyone who qualifies regardless of gender. The term, “Chairman” sends the message that this is a seat for a man only. At one point in history that was the accurate. Thankfully, that is no longer the case and the title needs to represent that fact. Hopefully, because as you said it is mostly older men in your organization this will turn out to be a simple oversight or something that has not been on their radar. I’m guessing the term is something they use out of habit and tradition and hopefully it is something they will be willing to update in order to be more current and inclusive.

As to how you should bring it up, without knowing the structure of your organization I have a hard time giving specific advice. I would approach someone you feel is in a position that can make change happen without jeopardizing your job and just explain that the term is outdated and it makes you feel uncomfortable. You can give specific examples of how this term is used less and less in modern business settings.

From Skepchick Jen:

This is interesting. The conference talk I mentioned I’m doing is for Software Craftsmanship North America, and the entire theme is, “What makes a good software craftsman?” Which makes the irony of me speaking about women as software developers pretty great. I intended to use it as the lead-in for my talk. It’s not one of those things I get super worked-up about, but I think updating archaic language to better reflect reality is usually a good thing.

From Skepchick Bug Girl:

This is something that the entomological society had to deal with 15 years ago or so–It’s kind of a bummer it’s still an issue. Most official orgs use a gender neutral term–so rather than having Chairwoman and Chairman, just Chair or Convener.

Got a question you would like some Surly-Skepchick advice on? Send it in! We won’t publish your real name, unless you want us to and creative pseudonyms get bonus points! Just use the contact link on the top left of the page.

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Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics. She is the fearless leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+. Tip Jar is here.

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130 Comments

  1. The thing is that if you look back long enough man in gender neutral as it was werman or wifman for male or female. That is a thing about language that people look at it from a very short term perspective. It has really be relatively recently that all useage of the term is considered to be engendered.

    1. I was going to say the exact same thing.

      The Dutch word for human* is “mens” (in German it’s mensch), so that’s an indication towards the germanic origin of the word “man” as in “mankind”.
      (the latin origin would be “homo” as in “homo sapiens” or the French word “homme”).

      Still, you could stop using man in those cases where it’s superfluous or where it might indicate that it’s only men and not women.
      But “chair-people” sounds too much like “pod-people” to me. It’s so artificial you’d be better off just discribing the function rather than de-gendering the person who holds that position.

      * What about the word Human itself? Does that mean there should be a huwoman too? or hugirl (because woman has the word “man” in it too). You could too easily draw this into the absurd, so picking your battles is very important.

  2. Jen a good term is crafters, as in, this was really well crafted.

    Kelly you should definitely take steps to change this to the more welcoming and inclusive chair. and keep at it with tenacity until it’s done.

    ponderingturtle I wouldn’t call within living memory and a couple hundred years before that short term language :) I like the idea of what your saying though of calling someone who’s male a wifman . but it would take another lifetime for the man tag to not mean men only and as the current toddlers may have the option of liven forever that might not even happen :)

      1. Then why not simply go with craftship instead and remove the human element entirely? That way, it could also be used for non-human entities crafting something b.t.w.

        Then again, all nouns can be verbed if needed …

    1. Werman was male Wifman was female. The point is that it is feminists of the past 100 years who took issue with a non gendered use of the word man. In a certain sense they are looking for things to be bothered by and changing them so that they can be bothered by them. It rewriting history to be offended. Hell look at feminist reactions to the word history, as something that has a totally ungendered origin.

      Kind of like how gyped is racist and niggardly isn’t, but how many people realize that?

          1. Blaming “feminists” for changing the meaning of a word is rediculous. Most people han’t even heard of feminism until the very late sixties. Feminism, from a pale skinned male perspecrtive is like anti racism, one of the many branches of being considerate.

  3. Does it really matter? Honestly. You literally have to go out of your way to be bothered by non gender-neutral terms. There’s also a ‘man’ in woman, are we going to change that to woperson?

    1. No, but lots of people prefer the use of “womyn”. Just saying.

      Language and how we use it matters. It can reveal and it can perpetuate underlying biases in a culture.

      A rabbit and a tortoise have a race. The rabbit goes really fast, gets really far ahead and has a nap. That allows the tortoise, who’d been going slow and steady, to catch up.

      And the moral of the story is:

      How did you mentally gender those animals?

      What does that say about how our culture regards men vs women? One as the neutral norm, the other as the qualified other?

      Personally, I think that’s EXACTLY what it shows. Same as “man” being used in a gender neutral way.

      I find the statement that feminists are “just looking for things to be bothered by” to be EXTREMELY dismissive, arrogant and offensive. Sorry.

      1. And what about herstory that fits right in their with womyn right? Some people do look for things to be offended by, look at all the Christians who organize letter writing campaigns about shows they don’t watch for any other reason than to find something to complain about?

        As for chair we clearly need the term chairperson as otherwise it is derogatory by comparing them to an inanimate object, to simply call them a chair is rejecting their personhood.

        Should we organize a ban on loony toons for showing both the tortoise and hair as men?

        1. Nobody has to look for offensive, misogynist, androcentric thinking. It is pervasive in our culture.

          Nice strawman with banning the loony tunes. That CLEARLY has nothing to do with this. The only connection is that it happens to an include an anthropomorphized rabbit and my example happened to include a hare. My point only had to do with male being considered the “neutral” gender, like how “he” pronouns are assumed for any person who’s gender is not specifically pointed out as female.

          I have absolutely no interest in playing the “bat the strawman feminist around” with you. Thanks for lowering my opinion of the commentators here, though.

          1. You brought up the parable of tortise and hair, that reminded me first of loony toons when Buggs Bunny reran the race. He lost because the other rabbits gave him a beat down. You don’t know much of anything about Loony Toons then. Look more into it before you dismiss it.

            It is also trivial to find mysandary in our society, but mentioning it is totally verboten right? Men shouldn’t have rights in a family or with regard to children, because those issues are way less important that word choice. After all what man cares about his kids?

          2. Hey Sasha, would you pronounce that he-ro, or her-o :p

            But I agree with her points.
            Still, like I said in an earlier reply, you should pick your battles, because language has eveolved over several centuries, and will easily take as much time to change again.

            Not to mention the issues here are also very anglo-centric.
            I often still assume a doctor to be male, but that’s because for as long as I’ve lived, I’ve been calling a female doctor a “doctress” in my native language. We have a fireman, a firewoman, and something that translates as “firefolks” to refer to the group.
            So it’s not necessarily a matter of culturally inbred sexism, as it is the English language lagging several hundred years behind with regards to gender neutral terms, or causing confusion when the bastardisation of the name for our species (man, short for human, from hominid) becomes the same as the denomination of one gender.

          3. The parable of the tortoise and the hare long predates Loony Tunes. I’ve never even seen the Loony Tunes take on it. Perhaps you should be the one looking into things?

        2. Okay, so since some people enjoy pooping in their pants it’s safe to assume that that is what you enjoy?

          Because a behavior exists it doesn’t follow that anyone you want to ascribe that behavior to actually engages in it.

          Your argument about the ancient history of the word “man” is absurd. That is an obscure bit of etymology. It’s like arguing that because (sorry for the near Godwinning) because the swastika was originally a symbol unrelated to antisemitism we should never assume that its open display is intended to send that message.

          In modern English, which I am assuming is the form of English you speak, “man” is a gendered word. Accept that and stop acting like someone is punching you in the balls when they ask for the language to evolve along with our culture.

          1. I think you just one-upped me on the heroism!

            I also just want to throw out one little thing about words and meanings:

            A word’s meaning isn’t determined by its origins, it’s determined by how it is used and what it is taken to mean.

            Language is a living, dynamic thing. Meanings change and grow over time. You can be pedantic and quote the dictionary all you want, but you can’t stop those changes from occurring. If a word is currently understood by most people to be gendered, it is gendered.

          2. If gender neutrality is a big deal, than why are feminists OK with the term feminism? It’s completely hypocritical to use a gender oriented term while complaining about others. It’s childish, and it really, really, doesn’t matter.

          3. So as meaning changes recently to be the form you object to are very recent and coincide with the women’s rights movement. I just wonder if english really was a romance language which way to many people think it is, if your head would explode by all the engendered objects.

      2. Maybe I’m not normal, but I didn’t menatally gender the animals in the tortoise and the hare, this despite have grown up seeing the Bugs Bunny cartoon where both were clearly male.
        .
        I personally think it matters what is being refered to as to whether gendering is offensinve, and it can be tricky.
        For example, the afore mentioned craftsman refers to a person so should be either be craftsperson or crafter (though there is a slight difference in meaning to my ear) but the word craftsmanship refers to a thing or quality and it doesn’t bother me much that there is a man burried it the word; but then I wouldn’t be the one to be bothered I guess.
        Same goes with manhole and manhole cover, what is being referenced is a thing (and a particularly good or bad one at that) so I don’t see the harm. While I do not agree that feminists are just looking for things to complain about (because really, language would be low on the complaints list if they were looking) I do see some objections that are raised (history, menstruate, and manufacture are all words I’ve seen listed as gendered) as being a bit too prickly.
        .
        As Carl Sagan points out in Demon Haunted World, we use language that is scientifically incorrect all the time (the rising and setting sun for example) and yet we somehow get by.
        If we can change the attitudes that make these gendered words pack so much punch we would all be better off and the words would matter less.

      3. In a comment I made on today’s quickies post about US black scientists much less likely to get funding a few minutes ago (before I read your post), I used the phrase “his grant application”, which I didn’t notice until I reviewed it before posting. I thought about changing the wording, but instead I decided to footnote it and reread the article to see if it said anything about gender bias as well. It didn’t, so I noted that fact.

        The point here is that by doing a little extra work instead of taking the easy, lazy way out, I learned something, which is always good. Even if the thing I learned is “I don’t know”.

        P.S. I don’t think I thought about the genders of the rabbit and tortoise until you asked, but when I did, I instantly thought of them both being male, based totally on the Bugs Bunny cartoon. As I recall, they were both total dicks as well. They both cheated, the tortoise using a ringer at the end, which he got away with because they all look alike, at least to humans and rabbits.

          1. I guarantee you that referring to a human being by the pronoun “it” is probably THE most offensive, derogatory and dehumanizing thing you can possibly do. NO. Unless someone has specifically request that you do so or otherwise explicitly states that “it” is their preferred pronoun, you do NOT call someone that.

          2. I usually opt for the “they/their” in a non-gender-specific situation, even in the singular. It’s one of the most natural morphings of the language available, doesn’t clog up writing with awkward or completely new constructions, and generally gets the meaning across just fine.

  4. http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2011/07/19/she-desexed-our-language-remembering-kate-swift-1923-2011/

    Kate Swift and her partner wrote an article about this for the first issue of MS magazine. It resulted in a book, which so proved their point about sexist language…that real changes were made. It’s when the word “actress” was really dropped (Actor can be male or female now, when I was young, actor meant man). Simple changes, such as “Steward” now instead of “Stewardess”. Also just being aware of how easy it is to be inclusive with language. Anyway, she’s someone not enough of us have heard about. Her books are well worth having a copy of.

  5. I feel like there should be a distinction between third person singular pronouns in general use and titles, particularly positions of rank.
    While I would agree that it’s difficult to give an accurate description of an individual using gender neutral language this is not the case for social positions. Labeling a set of tasks that an individual is responsible has nothing to do with gender, so gender shouldn’t be included in the labeling. I’m against saying “chairwoman” or “chairman”, the position is just chair.

  6. Personally, I think this thread is an indication that there are still strong social prejudices about things as simple as language and signifiers. I also think that it illustrates the main problem with getting the title changed, namely judgement and reinforcing of already entrenched stereotypes.

    What do I mean, you ask? I’ll tell you:

    The issue of gender in language obviously raises hackles with some people (I see some trollish responses above, but they are not uncommon in the world at large). Raising the issue, particularly when you are affected by the language encourages those people to label you as over-reactionary, thin skinned, or some sort of crazy, communist, liberal (this is exaggeration for effect). Now, the fact is that the term is archaic, and the same people who would object to changing it, would spend countless hours mocking the same title if it were chairwoman, but that is almost immaterial.

    The fact of the matter is that, similar to the trend of poisoning the well, it is difficult to raise any discriminatory issues with a group as the affected party, both because those who oppose changing of the status quo may (probably will?) attempt to marginialize the complaint as “whining”, and because it is plain old intimidating. Were this a company, the Ombuds, or other intermediary would be the proper channel.

    Language is important. Anyone who says differently is unaware of the irony.

  7. To me man means male so if you use it as the default setting that excludes women and isn’t considerate. That’s not really feminism that’s just common sense.

    Craftsmanship produces a mental picture of an old man making clocks or what ever.
    Seamstress is a ridiculous word. Both sexes do taylouring. Redressing the imbalance id just considerate.

  8. Had a strange line of thinking after reading this and recently watching Steve Yegge’s OSCON keynote about branding (http://blip.tv/oreilly-open-source-convention/oscon-2007-steve-yegge-323761). Maybe someone here with more knowledge of branding can educate me (or us).

    If “chairman” is currently a brand for “a male that fills a certain administrative role”, what would it take to fix that brand? More to the point: if we *just* change “chairman” to “chairperson” and leave everything else alone, is it possible that “chairperson” will become the exact same brand, even though we removed the word “man” from it? If so, what does it take to change the brand?

    In the earlier example of the tortoise and the hare, I didn’t give a gender to either one, though that may have just been because animals are gender neutral in my mind. If you said “The nurse and the doctor”, I believe my brain would have filled in “The [female] nurse and [male] doctor”, even though I’ve had more female doctors than male doctors, and (in my very limited sampling) the female doctors have all been significantly more capable than the male doctors. So how do we fix that?

    I feel that concentrating on words that include the word “man” oversimplifies the issue in a way that can actually detract from the problem, as we get into arguments about specific examples (e.g. “crafstmanship”); likewise, arguments about “man” being traditionally gender neutral or no longer being so miss the forest for the trees. There are still arguments to be had about which words are strongly gendered brands, but those seem to me to be more useful arguments about priority (i.e. if we as a society should concentrate on the *most* gendered brands, which may correlate with the roles that have the most unbalanced gender ratio) rather than just word games.

    1. Changing the way we talk actually changes our brains in a big way. Becuase we use these worfd thousands of times in aa lifetime each time reinforcing the words assumptions. Chang chair man to chairperson and every time you say chairperson it says “well actually iy can be either a woman or man” Branding is very much about words. because they’re so important. To maintain the chairperson brand just have some women sitting the bloody chair :) and that’s much more likely if the languae is inclusive.

  9. A little more on what I meant with the tortoise and the hare…

    even if you weren’t mentally thinking of them as clearly male, I’m sure that’s how you’d think of them if it came up.

    Like… let’s say I wrote the parable differently and said,

    “the rabbit ran very fast and got so far ahead that he felt able to stop and take a nap.”

    Notice anything? If you weren’t looking for it, probably not. You’d gloss over it.

    If I then went on to write…

    “The tortoise, however, was slow and steady and ultimately she was able to catch up and win the race.”

    Yeah, you’d notice that. Wait, this tortoise is female? Does she have a little bow or something?

    And speaking of:

    You ever see kid’s cartoons with anthropomorphized animals? How are the male characters drawn? Like animals. How are the female characters drawn? Like animals with long hair, boobs (even if they’re not mammals), a bow in their hair, some long eyelashes, big red lips, and maybe a pearl necklace too just to make ABSOLUTELY SURE that people won’t fall back on their mental habit of gendering things male without some kind of female-specific signifier present.

    It all adds up to a very, very, very clear signal that in our culture male is regarded as the “normal” gender and female as the “other” gender.

    Anyway, I know that any time an underprivileged group raises objections towards the privileged group, the latter will get dismissive and defensive and write it off as “whining” and argue in favour of the status quo. No surprises there. but what absolutely surprises me is that this is going down in regards to gender issues on what is ostensibly a strongly feminist blog. What the hell? If those posters above have such a low regard for feminist critique, why come here? Why not go to any of the dozens of androcentric skeptic blogs? Sheesh.

    1. P.S. full disclosure: I almost DID use male pronouns when initially writing my parable example. I had to deliberately force myself not to! Wonderful thing about language biases is that they’re so ingrained that even people who spend lots of time thinking about them can end up falling into them. :)

    2. I hope that my comment didn’t come across as calling your perspective whining or arguing in favor of the status quo :(

      I believe that the gendered branding of certain words makes it harder for people outside of that gender to participate in [whatever that word refers to]. Along those lines, my questions are attempt to figure out how to most effectively change the connotation of those words to remove whatever barriers they impose. My worry, as I said, is that just removing “man” from a word may not be enough to actually change the gender people associate with that word.

      In that sense, I think we are talking about two different issues. I think they are related, and I make no value judgment on which is more important to be discussed. I do think there is some value, however, in recognizing that they are separate, in the sense that a potential solution for one issue (changing the branding of masculine words) may not be a potential solution for the other issue (realizing just how difficult it is to refer to or read about a person without an implied/inferred gender).

      In regards to using “he” with the animals, I would have read it as masculine in that context as you guessed, but only because you didn’t use “it”, which I use as the default pronoun for animals. I only use “he” or “she” with animals if I know the gender. Still, that doesn’t detract from your overall point, I just mean to point out that using animals makes it a bad example for me. I’m sure that my own understanding of the topic isn’t representative :)

      1. I’ll add – my comment about “missing the forest for the trees” does sound dismissive, and I apologize. What I meant (promise!) was that it doesn’t solve the issue I was thinking about at that moment, and I had blinders on to the other issues being discussed. Sorry!

      2. Getting risd of gender bias is helped by removing man, The subconscious is the area that takes more time to alter. But using they instead of he as a default addresses titles like doctor that have no man in them

        My doctor said they’re be late, so I found their outer office and waited there.

        Genting rid of male default language creates an environment that works on the subconscious and over years gets rid of the male default bias there too.

        1. Part of the point of my inquiry was that I’m trying to question the underlying assertion that just removing “man” will change the gendered connotation. You are making a lot of assertions that it will do just that, but I’m having trouble believing such assertions without evidence. Are you aware of studies confirming that hypothesis?

          Asking for evidence on a site dedicated to skepticism seems appropriate :)

          1. That looks a bit snarky but you know what I mean. Emotionally we include people with minor changes to the language. Then get use to them.

            Doctor isn’t gendered but we still think of a man. Making our brain think of either sex when we mention doctor depends on our cultural environment and how that acts on our subconcious. and ksn’t just about language but who turns up in movies when a doctor is portraid. Not calling them medicmen has got to help though hasn’t it? :)

      3. Oh, don’t worry! It wasn’t you who I felt was being dismissive. That was more directed towards ponderingturtle and MikeFromCanada, who made the “feminists are just looking for things to be bothered by” comments. Sorry if it came across like that was targeted at you. :)

    3. Neither are drawn like animals, you made that point clear with the word anthropomorphised. So you are giving them human characteristics, so why shouldn’t you give them human secondary sexual characteristics? Bugs bunny has thumbs and walks upright, he is not drawn as an animal.

      If it was nonanthropomophised animals you would have a better point, but you are already giving them human characteristics so you can not say that buggs bunny is drawn as a rabit. And many classic female anthropomophic animals do not have breasts or long hair, Minny Mouse and Daisy Duck for example.

      It seems a similar complaint that they had men playing the male elves in Lord of the Rings and women the female. The sexism in that! Elves are not human.

      1. Bows, long eyelashes, long hair and pearl necklaces are NOT secondary sexual characteristics! They’re just female signifiers.

        The point is that, comparatively, the male characters don’t have any such “tertiary” sexual characteristics drawn but the women do. This is because our instinct is to assume male unless otherwise told female. Again: male as “default” gender. Etc.

    4. This is doubly bemusing since, frankly, on most mammals (though not all, obviously–cows are probably the most notable exception), the fastest way to check for gender is to spot the male genetalia; no dangling bits mean it’s a female. But the discomfort with seeing male genetalia prevents what would otherwise be a swift and obvious signifier.

    1. Another wonderful strawman!

      The issue isn’t that there are gendered words in our language. It is entirely appropriate that we have words that are gendered one way or the other. I, for instance, enjoy having the pronoun “she” as a tool with which to assert my specific gender identity and have it be validated.

      The issues are that some male-gendered words are used in situations where gender-neutral words would be more appropriate, that using male-gendered words in certain situations helps foster an environment that is hostile to female inclusion, and that language that implies male as the “default” gender perpetuates a culture in which women are regarded as a secondary, inferior “other”.

      1. Another straw man opener in your conversation? It seems to be a theme with you. Wherever there is a misunderstanding between two different sides, the defensive cry “straw man” is heard either to compensate for a lack of ability (or motivation) to explain a point of view or to willfully ignore obvious implications of an argument. If anything, it seems to me that you think pointing out a straw man makes your points have extra bearing.

        Secondly, I know that a gendered pronoun is perfectly acceptable. However feminism does not apply to just one gender, therefore it should not have a gender oriented name. (according to you)

        Thirdly, when you construe language in a way where women are regarded as inferior, that is your own perception. I don’t see the default term ‘man’ as being superior to ‘woman’. No more than I see the default term of ‘cycle’ having any superiority over ‘bicycle’ or ‘tricycle’. It is merely a prefix that changes the meaning of a word.

        1. That all depends on your view of feminism. Inequality applies to both sexes, and from a political tactical standpoint it can be useful to deal with the inequalities separately. But of course not all feminists want to address inequality when it hurts men instead of women.

          So saying “group X” does Y is generally only true for a percentage of them.

        2. You were making the claim that the word “feminism” should be thrown out because it’s gendered, as though to make the claim that the arguement being presented here is that we should get rid of all gendered terms. That’s not the arguement being made. It’s a ridiculous, extreme misrepresentation of what was being said that’s easier to attack than what has actually been said. That’s the definition of a strawman. It seems to be a theme whenever guys want to attack feminism.

          That term doesn’t need to be changed to be more inclusive of men, since the central concept behind it is the seeking of equal rights for women. Context is also important here. Men are not an under-advantaged party in that context. They are in no way being persecuted or oppressed (or even neglected or excluded) by feminism.

          Cycles, bicycles and tricycles aren’t people. They don’t have power relationships with one another, they don’t have a society, they don’t have a culture, they don’t have situations where they privilege one of their groups over another. But I guarantee you that if they did, whoever got to be referred to by the default term of just “cycle” would have a lot more social power than the bicycles and tricycles.

          The point being made here is that yes, the idea of “man” as a default IS harmful. Just because you don’t find it problematic or hurtful or exclusionary (and why would you? you stand to benefit from ignoring it) doesn’t mean others don’t.

          1. “You were making the claim that the word “feminism” should be thrown out because it’s gendered, as though to make the claim that the arguement being presented here is that we should get rid of all gendered terms. That’s not the arguement being made.”

            That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that when a term applies to both sexes, it shouldn’t be gendered. Therefore she/he, his/her, cow/bull are fine because they apply to only one gender. However, something like feminism which is equal rights for both genders, shouldn’t have a gendered name. It’s funny that you don’t see this, some would argue that you’re privileged.

            “That term doesn’t need to be changed to be more inclusive of men, since the central concept behind it is the seeking of equal rights for women.”

            This is why I laugh at feminism. Most of you seem to think feminism is here to help women, but you’re wrong. The Women’s Rights Movement was there to help women be seen as equal under the law. They then changed it to feminism so that they could ‘claim’ to be about equality for both genders. While the actions for feminists do seem to think about equality for women, the theory, and definition, is that is should be the quest of equality for both genders.

            “Context is also important here. Men are not an under-advantaged party in that context. They are in no way being persecuted or oppressed (or even neglected or excluded) by feminism.”

            How are women under-advantaged here? In which way are they being persecuted or oppressed by the term ‘man’. It’s ridiculous that you write like you’ve suffered such indignity by some words. What are you trying to accomplish here? Are you trying to get rid of the term ‘man’? Are we not to be called men anymore? Even if you change some non-sense issues with ‘chairman’ or ‘craftsman’ it really doesn’t change anything. Men will still be called men, and women will be called women. It seems to me that the only solution is to find a new word for males other than man, because man will always be the suffix in woman. It’s ridiculous, and it won’t happen.

            It’s sad when you scream ‘underpriviledged!’ to make it seem like you’re a victim to a non-issue. How are men privileged in any way?

            And yes, men’s issues are neglected from feminism. When’s the last time you saw a feminist blog deal with male prejudice?

            “The point being made here is that yes, the idea of “man” as a default IS harmful. Just because you don’t find it problematic or hurtful or exclusionary (and why would you? you stand to benefit from ignoring it) doesn’t mean others don’t.”

            Right, then I ask you, what should we change ‘man’ to, and what should we change ‘woman’ to? Because man will always be the suffix to women, and the only way to fight this ‘hurtful and exclusionary problem’ is to change this. If it’s such an injustice, than make a movement to stop the terms man and woman, from being used. If you don’t, than that’s just proof that you don’t really care, and you just want to change things that mean nothing.

            And you know what you benefit from? Feminism. You know who doesn’t? Men. So don’t go yelling male privilege on non-issues.

            By the way, you seem to argue that adding ‘wo’ to ‘man’ somehow makes you inferior. Which is really sad deductive reasoning if you ask me. It’s rather illogical to argue that the English language is oppressing you so much. But I’ll go ahead and say that adding ‘wo’ to ‘man’ makes it look like women are more than men. It makes me feel that men are seen as simple, and women aren’t. It makes me feel that women come before men.

          2. It’s sad when you scream ‘underpriviledged!’ to make it seem like you’re a victim to a non-issue. How are men privileged in any way?

            Whut???
            Seriously?

            Okay, so I’ll assume you’re talking specifically about having the word “man” in a job description or other action, and give you a few examples of how this colours your preconceptions:

            Try explaining to someone that your brother is a nurse, without specifically saying that he’s male, and see how many people assume you’re talking about a woman.
            Try the same thing with jobs like hairdresser, flight attendant, dressmaker, etc…
            If you tell them the person you’re talking about is male, see how many assume he must be gay to want to do a job like that …
            In fact, if you were talking about your brother’s job at the hospital, you’d specify he’s a male nurse (lest someone should make the false assumption he’s female).

            Actually, I just thought of a job that has the gender in it: can you imagine a guy who’d be thrilled to be called “lunch lady”?

            So why would you think women are overreacting when they object to being called a postman, a paperboy, a fireman, a chairman, etc…

        3. Feminism isn’t gendered it’s “:sexed” as in sexist and is defined by the prejuidice it’s seeking to correct. Somethng your displaying by not seeing how the use of man as a default gender in language excludes women. Gender is fluid but what sex you are is the basis for sexual prejudice. This is all common sense and shouldn’t need to be explained to you at all.

        4. Well this comment is suppose to go under Mikefrom canada’s post so lets try again.

          Feminism isn’t gendered it’s “:sexed” as in sexist and is defined by the prejuidice it’s seeking to correct. Somethng your displaying by not seeing how the use of man as a default gender in language excludes women. Gender is fluid but what sex you are is the basis for sexual prejudice. This is all common sense and shouldn’t need to be explained to you at all.

  10. Inclusive language is the aim, so that everyone feels welcomed. craftsman doesn’t describe the job accurately. as craftspeople and artists can be women too.

    Feminism describes accurately part of the struggle for equality and equal oportunity. It doesn’t mean someone who’s feminist can’t be concerned about rascism or animal cruelty or human rights in general. Most people who are feminist are concerned about all those things.

    1. The point I was trying to make with craftsmanship is that, to me at least, it is a quality that does not evoke a gender. This bench has fine craftsmanship, to me, means that it is well made.
      I appear to be in the minority on this one so perhaps we should start to come up with some new terms, because craftspersonship is simply too unwieldy.
      And I am not suggesting it is not worth doing because it is hard, perhaps “craftedness”; “craftly”; maybe just “well made”?

      1. How about crafting.

        If you look at the beautiful crafting
        If you look at the beautiful craftsmanship

        The crafting that went ito making this dress is amazing
        The craftsmanship that went into making this dress is amazing.

        Principal crafter
        Master craftsman

        chef-d’œuvre
        Masterpiece

        1. That sounds a little strange to my ear because I see crafting as what is sold on Etsy.
          But I would say that when Michelangelo was creating the Pieta he was crafting it so I can see where “it has fine crafting” could work, epecially if we can get everyone on board with it.
          .
          Now, what do we start calling fist year students? ;)

    2. Wrong about the definition of feminism. It is a struggle to deal with inequality when it is detrimental to women. This is not bad, but it is not accurate to assume everyone who is a feminist is also all that interested in giving up the advantages that historic roles for men and women give to women.

      You will never see anything here dealing with issues were fathers have no say in if their child is put up for adoption for example.

      I am not saying all feminists are misandarists but assuming that they are not is also wrong. Kind of like it is fairly easy to find examples of bigotry from some specific prominent civil rights leaders.

      1. “but it is not accurate to assume everyone who is a feminist is also all that interested in giving up the advantages that historic roles for men and women give to women”

        I didn’t say that those words are your invention. I said most not all.

        Feminism describes accurately part of the struggle for equality and equal oportunity. It doesn’t mean someone who’s feminist can’t be concerned about rascism or animal cruelty or human rights in general. Most people who are feminist are concerned about all those things.

        Again this is a common sense observation and shouldn’t need explaining to you either. I’m male and I’m feminist and concerned about my own condition too. I’m in the UK and have a male friend who raised his own daughter alone. I think your anti feminism is short sided and selfish.

      2. Actually, PT, most of those ‘advantages’ women possess would also be eliminated if feminism succeeds in achieving the overall goal of an equal society.

        For instance, abolishing the notion that “women are better at nurturing, and so should be responsible for the care of the children” is phrased in a complimentary fashion, but is still used to keep women at home and out of the professional workforce.

        Eliminate that whole concept, and suddenly, post-natal treatment of the kid becomes a much more equal situation. Men WOULD in fact be treated more equally by the courts in cases pertaining to childcare, alimony and so forth.

        But for some reason, the typical MRA can’t seem to grasp that simple fact.

  11. My response to original question:

    Consider your ultimate goal. If your goal is to do great work and show others than women are productive members of this organization, you do your work as chair. If you want to personally take on revising your bylaws, own it. Just make a proposal according to the rules of your organization to edit the bylaws for gender-neutral language. Would the people in your organization really dare to vote against that? Especially if you offered to do the work?

    That said, wouldn’t you be better off spending your time simply kicking ass and taking names and being a leader? It’s easy to find things to whine about or be bothered by and forget that your main goal is to do good work, not look for things to be resentful about (because yes, if you look for these things, you will find them — bias exists). Sometimes the document is simply easier to read if it’s not bogged down in a lot of language like “his or her” etc. The term “chair” usually works well, but other edits can lose readability as they gain gender sensitivity.

    I must confess, I am a “chair” in various male-dominated professional organizations and I know how it is. But I’ve never seen an organization insist that a woman be referred to as a “chairman.” If someone called you a chairman and you corrected them and asked them to call you “madame chair” or whatever is appropriate — and they refused — well, that would be a lot more offensive, I think. I’ve never encountered this.

    I guess in the end, ask yourself what you want to be known for. Do you want to be the person who completed this project or that projects under budget and on time, or the person that bogged down a lot of committee time in things like gender-neutral rewrites of bylaws that did not advance the committee’s more direct goals? Only you can make the judgment about committee priorities against any time constraints you have on your work with this organization. If you have time to do the rewrite and kick ass, go for it.

  12. The New Zealand Sceptics’ Society actually changed their title from Chairman to Chair-entity for precisely this reason (sure, Chair is more elegant, but it kinda started as a joke and stuck).

  13. I’m convinced the real challenge in changing language has very little to do with mysogony and everything to do with laziness. The solution is easy to conceive but virtually impossible to implement.

    We could solve this problem once and for all with a set of gender-neutral terms to replace terminally unusable workarounds such as “(s)he”, “his/her”, etc. Werman/Wifman sound awesome – in an ideal world we could use them and let “man” revert to being gender-neutral, but of course there are many practical arguments against that. I live in hope that some international language authority will one day suggest a solution, the solution will be implemented in formal documentation first and slowly make its way into everyday use. (I carry many vain hopes with me, it helps me get by.)

    The bottom line, though, is that it’s just too hard for most people to change their speaking habits. It’s not so much that they want to keep the status quo, it’s that they don’t want to make the effort to change to something better.

    1. Language changes all the time and authorities have to play catch up . TV and movies are the biggest influences on language change. If we push towartds a change then it happens. In England eceryone says postie instead of postman. I people do that because they want to and recognise women can deliver letters too. But the evening nees uses postie and TV dramas and so you see the language changes. Completely new terms would trend 1st and then become universal. I think it’sabout colective will. and luck and how important a certain change is to influencial people who move a trend.

  14. Another option is to reach back into antiquity and reclaim the original meaning of the word.

    Back in the day, “man” was indicative of both genders.

    Wereman was male, woman was female, and the contraction “man” was an indication of the common root.

    That’s where “werewolf” came from – human/man-wolf.

    Technically, “man” as used today is a contraction of “wereman” (or the old english equivalent), and “chairman” literally means “chairhuman”.

    I realize that linguistics have changed, and that’s not the meaning implied now, but the word IS technically gender neutral. The only reason it has it’s current connotations is the centuries of patriarcal society that made positions of authority masculine by default.

    I’m not saying that a stand should not be made, or that the inherent gender biases of our society shouldn’t be exposed wherever found, but the problem isn’t necessarily with the word itself, so much as how it’s perceived.

  15. Wereman was male, woman was female, and the contraction “man” was an indication of the common root.

    This is essentially the problem the English language has that others don’t.
    Somewhere along the way, they common root “man” ended up being used specifically for male members of the species. Now while the same thing happened in other languages, many have (or have adopted) a drastically different sounding word to denote female members (one that doesn’t include the word for the male member of the species or the word for the species as a whole), so the urge to grasp for words like “chairwoman” because it sounds similar enough to “chairman” is less likely, because it’s equally awkward-sounding and less offensive to just go with a gender-neutral word like “chairperson” or just “chair” instead.

    Of course, that still doesn’t take away the inherent bias in already gender-neutral words like “president” or “prime minister” still being assumed to be men because at the moment the majority of the people in those offices stil seem to be male …

  16. Hey anti-feminists that insist on posting on this here feminist blog. Got a question for you.

    Were you pleased with the decision to change the common term of stewards/stewardesses on airplanes to the term Flight Attendant? You know because traditionally it was mostly women with that job. And it was a bit of a lowly position that was primarily held by young, thin, attractive women. One could easily argue that the job itself was sexist and even anti-men. At the very least it was not at all a traditional job for a man. But as time went on and more men applied for those positions the term changed to the gender neutral “flight attendant.”

    That’s cool right?

    So addressing someone as a Chair or a Convener instead of Chairman would be equally acceptable since as time goes by more women are applying and are qualified for that position as well.

    It seems some of the fellas get mad only when a title that is traditionally theirs alone is being redefined but if it helps just the fellas… well, then that is just fine and dandy.

    Yeah, and no one has suggested changing the word, man or the word, woman. We are discussing job titles that imply they should be held by one gender or the another. You might want to ditch your sled. Your slope is awful slippery.

    1. “Were you pleased with the decision to change the common term of stewards/stewardesses on airplanes to the term Flight Attendant?”

      And who was being oppressed when they were called a steward or stewardess? No one, it’s a non-issue. Is calling someone a steward an act of oppression? No. So changing it to flight attendant serves no real purpose.

      “So addressing someone as a Chair or a Convener instead of Chairman would be equally acceptable since as time goes by more women are applying and are qualified for that position as well”

      Chairman is a title. It has no gender orientation in the literal sense. Just because the word ‘man’ is in the title does not make it oppressive. Is the term wo’man’ oppressive? Is the term hu’man’ oppressive? The prefix changes the meaning of the word. And when ‘chair’ is added to ‘man’, it refers to the head of a committee or company. I have no problem with people calling it just ‘chair’ or ‘convener’. But this should be an issue of personal preference, and should not transform into some tirade to change the English language.

      I notice that you never let an idea interrupt the flow of your conversation.

      1. Good, so we agree that it’s nothing to quit your job over just like I said in the OP. Not sure where you got from there to “and should not transform into some tirade to change the English language” But still the word chairman is an archaic term that does not accurately represent the current position. Many organizations have changed this already because our language evolves along with our society.

        Not sure what you meant by, “I notice that you never let an idea interrupt the flow of your conversation.”

        Was that supposed to be some sort of a personal insult?

        1. No more than, “You might want to ditch your sled. Your slope is awful slippery.” is a personal insult.

          And just to let you know, the whole English language is archaic, doesn’t mean we should change it. Chairman, in it’s definition, has nothing to do with gender. And that’s all I’m saying.

          1. Really? Because even online dictionaries acknowledge that Chair is generally preferred to Chairman. I guess free dictionary.com is on a tirade to change the english language too.

            And Mike, I never said your name nor did I reply to your comment when referring to the slippery slope. I called out anti-feminists and you jumped right on board. And so you know, a slippery slope is saying something like, “you can’t modify the use or definition of that word because then you would have to change ALL words.”

          2. “And Mike, I never said your name nor did I reply to your comment when referring to the slippery slope. I called out anti-feminists and you jumped right on board.”

            Exactly. Your post applied to anti-feminists, which is what I am. So yes, your slippery slope comment was aimed at me. You even addressed points I made earlier, so yes, don’t think me stupid by attempting plausible deniability. At least have the gall to stand by your statements instead of making excuses.

            And I’m not saying we shouldn’t use chair, or convener, I’m saying that calling someone a chairman is not wrong. It should come down to preference.

          3. Anti feminst makes no sense. unless your against being comsiderate and fair. If you see someone has a disadvantage why would you want to continue that situation. I think your sexuali identity relies on you being dominant and if the woman you desire isn’t subserviant and has a mind of her own you’ll lose your erection. Your insecurity is your motivation. A solution is doninant sex play and BDSM where you can learn to seperate your sexuial identity from your logical mind.

            It’s a problem some feminist men have had when their partner has a better earning potential and more money than them and so they’ve mentored the children at home but found it ruined their sex life. Learning how to manipulate powerplay is good for you and you’ll find it doesn’t threaten your sexual potency because with dominant sex games the dominance in a session can be explored to mutualyl set limits. against an agreed fantasy that can be as wild as you like. That kind of letting off steam allows you freedom from insecurity in the rest of your life.

          4. Also when people get into power play they often try switching and enjoy it, or equal power as well and enjoy that too. With those mind expanding experiences, the problem is totally solved.

          5. “Anti feminst makes no sense. unless your against being comsiderate and fair. If you see someone has a disadvantage why would you want to continue that situation.”

            Common misconception. Being anti-feminist does not mean I don’t believe in equality. Like all ideological movements, feminism consists of ideas and theories. These theories, or ideas, can be evaluated on their individual merit. And then, either accepted or denied. Over time, common threads are developed that testify to the character of the movement (ie. goals or objectives). As any skeptic should, they should evaluate for themselves instead of joining a movement because it claims, ‘equality’. This is what I have done. I have observed that the feminist movement does not concern itself with the plight of both genders equally. Although I don’t think feminists are bad, I think that feminism is filled with bad ideas.

            As for the rest of your reply, which touches on dominance and sexuality. I’m not sure if you’re talking about me (in which case you would be wrong), or the majority of men, who you seem to think have to hold dominance over women. But my reasoning leads me to believe that your opinion is based on what you have been told to believe from the feminist movement.

            I’m an anarchist. I don’t believe in any form of control over others. Be it government, religion, or relationships.

            And just to reiterate, feminism is not a state of mind. Meaning that one can believe in equality and still be anti-feminist. It is an ideological movement that deals with issues. And unequally I might add.

  17. “I’m an anarchist. I don’t believe in any form of control over others. Be it government, religion, or relationships.”

    It appears you understand anarchy as well as you understand feminism; not at all. You don’t even understand the basic definitions of either word.
    Your hypocrisy is boring and your argument is invalid.

        1. “If my opinion is irrelevant you are not an anarchist.

          I bet you’ve never even heard of Lynne Farrow.”

          No I haven’t heard of Lynne Farrow. And you demonstrate further that you have no grasp as to what an anarchist is, or believes.
          Anarchism: Belief in the abolition of all government and the organization of society on a voluntary, cooperative basis without recourse to force or compulsion.

  18. Ok questions for Mike. If you are an anarchist why do you even bother commenting on this blog? Shouldn’t you be overthrowing some sort of establishment or government? Or living some sort of awesome hardcore existential lifestyle? I mean ultimately, the question of whether or not we call someone a chair or a chairperson should be completely irrelevant to someone who wants no form of control or government. There would be no chairperson or any chairs to deal with at all if things work out your way. And you could always use the anarchist’s cookbook to blow up all the actual chairs too if they were in your way. Couches too. Right? Ok, cookbook sarcasm aside, why aren’t you posting over on the thread about politics if ideology is what motivates you? It seems to me that you swoop in on just the posts with feminism as the topic. It’s like you have a grudge against the topic itself. I never see you post on any other threads. I bet you have a lot of really interesting things to talk about. Too bad we never hear any of that and instead you just play contrarian to anything with feminism as the tag. Also? I know a really cool anarchist girl who is also a feminist. You might like her. Or… maybe not.

    1. Amy – I think this is fairly simple; Mike is a leftover from the MRM trolls that swarmed this blog in the wake of the, shall we say, recent unpleasantness.
      He is only here to yell as loudly as he can “WHAT ABOUT TEH MENZ?” every time feminism is brought up. He is a sad and lonely troll, have some mercy on him.
      .
      And you know the worst part? The men’s rights movement actually has some legitimate issues that should be addressed; like child custody disparities, military conscription, and paternity leave. Too bad they load it down with a shit-ton of asinine arguments about male objectification, and bullshit anti-wage fairness arguments, and downright dishonesty about the very definition of feminism then they wrap that all into a tight little bundle of anti-woman rhetoric and toss it around like it’s a football. Usually they have enough courtesy to keep there self-abuse on their own sites, this one appears to have gone rouge.
      .
      I have no doubt that our boy Mikey here is going to protest being labeled an MRA but, just like the libertarians that refused the label on a previous thread, even if he hasn’t joined the parade he is marching to the band.

        1. Mike, of course you’re a troll, you’re a regular woman basher on several different sites. You appear to actually believe that there is a social war on men and maleness.
          There’s no reason for you to come to a feminist blog other than to ruffle feathers and make a nuisance. You don’t care about fairness, learning or mutual respect, you believe we’re part of a conspiracy to oppress you.

          Your posts are off topic, inflammatory, argumentative for argument’s sake, the very definition of a troll. The saddest part is you’re not even a very good one.

          1. How is pointing out male prejudice or mistreatment women bashing? I have never bashed the female gender. I have bashed the feminist movement because I think it has poor ideas. There is no more a social war on men than there is on women. Each gender is treated poorly in different ways. But according to most feminist blogs, women have the worst of it.

            Your post offers nothing to counter my points other than calling me a women-basher. Which makes you look like the troll. You offer no real point, and you don’t even attempt to counter the things I say.

            You seem to think that just calling me a women-bashing troll will give my name a negative connotation. So that people will dismiss my points without dissecting the individual merit in the points I present. Call me whatever you like on a whim, I don’t care. You don’t even try to offer an opposing view, it’s sad.

          2. “Did any of you also hear about the 1500+ foreign men who stood shoulder to shoulder with weapons defending their homes from rioters? I’m not sure if they’re Indian or Muslim, but that’s beside the point. I wonder if the news will spin this in some way where women will be painted as protectors.” -MikeFromCanada

            Posted on a site dedicated to “Truth, Lies and the war on men”
            http://www.manwomanmyth.com/feminism/what-are-the-london-riots-really-about/

            Sounds like a conspiracy to me.

          3. Does it make it any less true? I wonder if you think that men shouldn’t talk about issues they face, ‘well because men are just so darned priviledged’

            And you wonder why people become anti-feminist? It’s people like you will call people mysogynists, women haters, or trolls when they don’t conform. I’m anti-feminist because the movement doesn’t give two s**ts about male issues in society. You probably get your feet kissed so much by people trying to appease you, that you aren’t used to being called out for what you represent. Show me proof that the feminist movement represents both genders equally, and I will admit I’m wrong.

          4. And you wonder why people become anti-feminist? It’s people like you will call people mysogynists, women haters, or trolls when they don’t conform. I’m anti-feminist because the movement doesn’t give two s**ts about male issues in society. You probably get your feet kissed so much by people trying to appease you, that you aren’t used to being called out for what you represent.

            Mike you’re arguing with yourself.
            You’re not a troll because you disagree, you’re a troll because your purpose in being here is to derail the topic. It’s as simple as that.

            “Show me proof that the feminist movement represents both genders equally, and I will admit I’m wrong.”

            Well first of all there aren’t two genders, there are several genders, all of which are by definition equal and valued by feminism. Secondly, I’m pretty sure you have google, so I’m not going to do your homework for you. If you want to educate yourself there’s nothing stopping you.
            Now put on your big boy shoes and get walkin’

          5. Telling someone they’re off topic is an off topic statement in itself. It’s the same when people point out straw men. You can find a straw man in almost any post if you look hard enough. If you don’t want to discuss it then don’t reply. By further dragging on the conversation, you yourself come to be the problem you claim others to be.

    2. “If you are an anarchist why do you even bother commenting on this blog?”

      Really simple, I like arguing or debating with people on social issues.

      “Shouldn’t you be overthrowing some sort of establishment or government? Or living some sort of awesome hardcore existential lifestyle?”

      Not sure what you grasp anarchism to be really. There is no set course of action that each anarchist must follow. It is a political ideal. I do what I think is right, be it simply volunteering or going to protests.

      “I mean ultimately, the question of whether or not we call someone a chair or a chairperson should be completely irrelevant to someone who wants no form of control or government.”

      Ultimately nothing matters. If you think about it, Earth is just an atom in the grand sense of things. Why should you care about this issue when 10,000 children die each day of starvation? I care because I do, there’s not much else I can think to say.

      “And you could always use the anarchist’s cookbook to blow up all the actual chairs too if they were in your way.”

      There are a few forms of anarchy. It is very few that believe violence is the course of action. Most you will find, believe in a more lawful form of rebellion. Anarchy is the belief that everyone should act as they please, as long as they don’t infringe on someone elses rights.

      “Why aren’t you posting over on the thread about politics if ideology is what motivates you?”

      Lot’s of social or political issues motivate me, and how do you know where I do or don’t post? I started posting here when the whole RW elevator event happened. It seemed to me that most failed to see what true equality is, and most arguments I found were laughably hypocritical.

  19. For the record I am a married male almost 70 years old.

    I was working as a programmer in the late 60’s early 70’s when I first felt compared to equal pay for equal work that arguing about pronouns was detracting from substantive issues. Indeed, at the time my employer, Control Data, was actively hiring warm bodies who could design and write software. Male or female – it made no difference.

    When I went to school “Would the person who left his lights on the parking lot…” was 100% correct. In this case “his” is associated with gender as much as “person.” This also meant that unless some specific maleness was mentioned, “his” was ambiguous as to gender. OTOH, “her” always meant female.

    I’m told that Japanese has gender-neutral possessive pronouns. So the argument that language moves the culture has little merit.

    Yes, language changes. But who decided that “data”, an obvious collective noun, is plural? Okay, my prior sentence is OT but it’s a pet peeve. Sorry.

    1. I’m told that Japanese has gender-neutral possessive pronouns. So the argument that language moves the culture has little merit.

      Japanese as a language is pretty context-sensitive (where statements like “fish eat” could imply that you’re eating fish, or the fish is eating something.
      In fact, in Japanese society, whether you were male or female was traditionally far less important than whether you were rich and important or poor and unimportant. Their language and it’s myriad rules of politeness reflect that.

      At the same time, I’ve heard from people that if you learn to speak Japanese from a woman, you may risk ending up sounding like you’re gay because of the differences in words or expressions used solely by women or men. Possibly even relating back to the power dynamic between being important (i.e. deserving of respect, politeness) and unimportant.

  20. I see that no one has mentioned the idea that the “man” in chairman could be derived from the Latin “manus” or “hand”. The chairman is the hands of the meeting/board and guides it through proceedings. Not everyone agrees with this derivation, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

    1. Sure, and maybe chair comes from the latin “charitas” meaning benevolent, as in “the benevolent hand”.

      Or maybe all of that is just bullshit and it’s simply because the chairman was traditionally the big important boss-man sitting in the chair at the head of the table.

    2. Of course, I may be wrong, but if that were the case, other latin-based languages would use a word with similar roots, right? As far as I can tell, they don’t.

      The word originated in English, and as such, the simplest explanation was that it was a combination of chair and man, from a time when leaders were male by default.

  21. MikeFromCanada:

    I don’t really feel like going into any kind of detailed, point-by-point debate here. It seems pretty clear that you’re main interest is trolling.

    Now, it’s not because of the content of your posts, their tone, or even their lack of of addressing the actual points people have made that have brought that up. It’s the fact that you are on a FEMINIST BLOG making a whole bunch of extremely ANTI-FEMINIST statements. You are saying things that you KNOW are going to (rightfully) piss off this community, and then sitting back and enjoying our reactions. You’re not interested in discussion. You’re interested in receiving as much negative attention as you can. If you wanted to genuinely debate this issue, you’d go somewhere where there was a chance your ridiculous, privileged, status-quo bullying would be taken seriously.

    But.. you know… as Cloe so kindly (and awesomely) pointed out, there aren’t just two genders. Feminism is a whole lot more than a tug of war for rights between women and men. It’s looking at the myriad ways (legal, social, cultural) that gender impacts our lives. It’s a struggle that all variations upon gender be valued and equal within our culture, without any one being thought of superior to, OR MORE NORMAL / DEFAUL THAN any other. It investigates the assumptions our culture has made about gender and about sexual power dynamics and how those get reinforced in things both overt and subtle. And yes, it also critiques how our culture privileges some people (chiefly masculine, normative, heterosexual, cisgender males) over others. The reason men may seemingly get passed over by feminism, in YOUR eyes (not all men are going to feel as defensive about this as you), is largely because the issues of inequality faced by most straight cis men absolutely pale in comparison to those faced by… oh… everyone else. Yes, you have your family court biases. But I honestly don’t have space to list every form of discrimination I’ve had to deal with on account of MY gender.

    NONETHELESS, pretty large sections of feminism do involve and address the damaging, constraining, disempowering effect that rigid, particular, imposed gender roles have on people assigned male. It happens.

    I mean… how much do you really even know about feminism? Are you aware of the variety of different branches and schools? The various debates that exist within it? Including, incidentally, a pretty big debate about the issue of inclusivity, and who should be embraced as allies?

    This feels to me like someone going onto an anarchist blog and trolling with “Anarchsists are so dumb! If you didn’t have any rules all of society would turn into a effed up Mad Max dystopia over night! Only the strong would survive! It would be brutal chaos! Why not just move to Somalia?!”

    i.e. A total misinterpretation of anarchism designed just to get a bunch of people angry, NOT a “debate on social issues”.

    And with that, I’m done taking you seriously. Please move on to a blog where this kind of tired, knee-jerk, anti-feminist rhetoric is more appropriate.

  22. So, just to let everyone know, Mike From Canada does not hold a particularly widespread or popular opinion in Canada.

    I always worry that the more vocal components of a country are going to be how the rest of the world sees them.

    In other news, most of the organizations I’ve been involved with in Canada actually just use “Chair” for chair of the board, or of the meeting.

  23. So I did a little research on the “wereman/woman/wifman” thing.

    The earliest use of the word “chairman” was in the 1600’s, long after Old English had ceased to be in common usage (and a while after Middle English too). During that era, the word combination WOULD imply a male leader/convener, in its original form.

    It’s a patriarchal word in its origin. Where you go from there is, I suppose, a matter of opinion, but arguing that it’s NOT a gender specific word (like I did earlier) isn’t valid or accurate.

    Chair or convener works pretty well (sort of like “bench” in law, I guess).

  24. I think the way I’d go about this would be to calmly say “chair” everytime someone said “chairman”. Unless you get some idiot intent on saying “chairman” for his own reasons, this kind of strategy can be pretty effective and need not piss people off. You’d get some eye-rolls, I expect, but pretty soon everyone will be saying “chair”.

    If there is such an idiot, then take him on.

  25. Hi, so I’m new here, and pretty new to this kind of stuff, I admit I’ve used “man” as default for things like “mankind”. I though It just made sense with man being in the word human and woman. I thought It was just an abbreviation of those words, apparently I’ve been way of base with that :/, the gender bias thing never occurred to me. Also someone mentioned there being more than two genders, I’m not quit sure what that means, I thought there was male (XY) and female (XX)?

    1. There are lots of different kinds of intersex conditions, for starters. There is Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, which produces a female child with XY chromosones. There is Klinefelter’s Syndrome which produces a male child with XXY chromosones. There’s chimerism, which can produce a child with some DNA that is XY and some DNA that is XX. There’s male pseudo-hermaphoriditism and female pseudo-hermaphroditism, which produce XX and XY children who’s genitals are ambiguous enough that they are initially assigned a gender non-concomitant with their genetics. And there are many, many more such conditions.

      Then there’s also the transgender community. While most trans people are “binary-identified”, meaning that they consider themselves either male or female, there is also a large community of people who identify as “genderqueer” or “androgyne”, or even simply as “transgender”, who’s personal understanding and expression of gender lies somewhere between or outside of the male/female binary. There are also a variety of non-western trans identities that can be understood as other variations of gender: India’s Hjira, Thailand’s Kathoey, First Nations’ Two-Spirit, etc.

      I hope this helps!

      1. Wow, so even the scientific definition of gender/sex Isn’t just male female. I knew a little about the more social/psychological definitions of gender/sex but that XXY ,and XY XX combinaion thing was knew, Thanks for the info.

  26. This is completely off topic, but I love the “Surly Amy” icon, and I love the word “surly” for a cool woman with a cool tattoo. What a great T-Shirt, where can I get one? Love your art too Amy!!!

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