Re: guys again

James Murphy (jmurphy@MAGNUS.ACS.OHIO-STATE.EDU)
Thu, 5 Jan 1995 08:19:55 -0500

Bjorn Fry asks:
> Should all words where there might be a perception of gender specificity be
> abolished? Does the same apply to compound words that include such stems?
> Who decides?

Dare I speak her name?

> If "MANkind" is taboo due to its "MAN" stem, why is "woMAN" ok? What about
> any perceptions surrounding "huMAN and its variations?"

Some (I'm not one of them) prefer "womyn." Maybe I'd better rephrase that:
some people prefer to spell the word "women" with a "y" instead of an "e." I'm
not one of them. And I've forgotten how they get around the usual spelling of

> Then there is the "homo" stem. It means "man" in a gender neutral way too.

The prefix hom- or homo- also means "the same" or "all." You can't get much
more inclusive than that, with was the point I intended in the second half of
my recent Ruby Rohrlich flame, suggesting that some womyn might wish to tangle
with the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature over the sexist
implications of the genus <Homo.> (Maybe replacing genus <Homo> with a genus
<Eve>? Though technically, I think the name Adam has priority, so that
wouldn't work, would it?)

> And, if perceptions are so important, "perSON" could run into trouble too.

And then we have the even weightier problem of HIStory. All of which tends to
support Michelle's suggestion, if I remember her post correctly, that there
might be more meaningful or more important aspects of gender and race to
examine than merely the linguistic. (Not that I'm suggesting we stop; this is
obviously a lot more fun.)

James L. Murphy

> Bjorn Fry