Re: gender bias in language

Thu, 6 Apr 1995 20:09:00 PDT

Geenuhuizen writes:

"The "correct," "normal," and "generally accepted" use of the word "man"
to refer to our species is left over from a time when our society and
world view were thoroughly patriarchal."

What a delightful sentence! No concern whatsoever with any need to justify
the claim! Written as if any good reader will know the truth when s(he) sees

Geenuhuizen goes on to comment

"While the word "human" may derive from "homo," meaning "man" in Latin,
it is never used in the English language to refer only to the males of
our species."

According to my Oxford Universal Dictionary:

"Human 1. Of, belonging to, or characteristic of man. 2. Of the nature of
man; that is a man; consisting of men 1484... 4. Having the qualities or
attributes proper to man 1727. 5. A human being, a man."

Now if we equate man = males, then humans = ?

Less facetiously: Geenuhuizen provides what is probably the most valid
argument against the use of the term "man", regradless of its meanings,
origins, changes in meanings, etc., namely that for her (and many other
females), it is NOT a term that automatically provides a sense of
inclusiveness, but of exclusiveness.

D. Read