Re: Gender, Language, etc.

Bret Diamond (diam9018@TAO.SOSC.OSSHE.EDU)
Mon, 10 Apr 1995 23:29:50 -0700

Just came across this quote in "The Study of Culture" by LL Langness,
thought it was pertinent to the controversey surrounding the use of
mankind etc. The quote is authored by anthropologist Gustave Lebon, and it
was published in "one of the leading anthropological journals of its time"
(according to Langness). There's no specific date, but in context with
the rest of the article, I'd say it was written approximately in 1890.

"In the most intelligent races, as among the Parisians, there are
a large number of women whose brains are closer in size to those of
gorillas than to the most developed male brains. This inferiority is so
obvious that no one can contest it for a moment; only its degree is worth
discussion. All psychologists who have studied the intelligence of
women, as well as poets and novelists, recognize today that they
represent the most inferior forms of human evolution and that they are
closer to children and savages than to an adult, civilized man. They
excel in fickleness, inconstancy, absence of thought and logic, and
incapacity to reason. Without doubt there exist some distinguished
women, very superior to the average man, but they are as exceptional as
the birth of any monstrosity, as, for example, of a gorilla with two
heads; consequently we may neglect them entirely."
I don't know about the rest of you, but I find it chilling that a
mere 100 years ago, this type of nonsense represented the height of
anthropological thought. If I had had to live under the weight of this
type of oppression, I guess I might be a little touchy about the use
various gender-specific words myself.

"Not everything that is faced
can be changed,
but nothing can be changed
until it is faced."
James Baldwin