Re: ists

James Murphy (jmurphy@MAGNUS.ACS.OHIO-STATE.EDU)
Sat, 1 Apr 1995 09:42:41 -0500

Tibor Benke writes:>
> But it seems to me that the struggle to change the semantic environment can
> be a tool for changing the underlying social/economic unfairness by
> increasing the perceptibility of that unfairness. In a way, the fact that
> Indo-European languages reflect gender bias, constitutes favourable terrain
> for struggle , because people can be continously reminded of their
> subconscious sexism and rebuked for it - sorta' like rubbing a puppy's nose
> in his mess.

It has certainly proven to be favorable terrain for struggle on this list.

I still question whether concentrating on changing the "semantic environment"
is a particularly efficient means of countering sexism. Someone on the listed
noted recently, I believe, that such semantic sexism is but the tip of the
iceberg. This is a good analogy in that icebergs are not reduced primarily by
melting at the tip. (They are reduced by melting of the underwater portion and
by "calving"-- the latter a term some will find to reflect gender bias while
others will find an apt and innocent analogy. Perhaps someday members of a
Fem-Geology list will find the time to address this problem.)

Your analogy of toilet-training a puppy is interesting, though I would hope you
don't advise a similar mode of toilet-training for human infants. I've always
thought that such methods (including washing out an offspring's mouth with soap
for uttering "dirty" words) partake as much of vengeful satisfaction for the
parent as they do of considered, considerate desire for reform of the infant,
puppy, or sexist. There is always the danger that disciplining another will
become self-righteous and even self-pleasuring, in which case the means may
neither justify nor accompish the end.

In view of your comments, some may wonder why you refer to your metaphorical
puppy's mess as "his" rather than "its," but I would not even speculate.

Thank you for your remarks.

James L. Murphy