Michael Forstadt (forstadt@HUSC.HARVARD.EDU)
Sat, 31 Dec 1994 22:57:54 -0500

I didn't want to get involved in this thread, but something more must be
said. Before I criticize, I must say that I personally try to use
inclusive language whenever I speak or write because I think it is
important, it is right, and it makes sense. But language rules are really
descriptive, not prescriptive -- so when one comes across the use of
archaic phrases such as "mankind" or Museum of "Man" (and coming from San
Diego, I always thought that *THAT* should be changed), the context
should be evaluated before character assassination is undertaken. I
concur that we as anthropologists should be leading the way toward
changing the language BY EXAMPLE, but I also must point out that extreme
political correctness can only hurt the struggle for social change.
Although I fully agree with Ruby Rohrlich's general points concerning the
need to be inclusive, I was deeply troubled by her extremely venomous and
closeminded response to Lief Hendrickson's initial use of "mankind" (and
her insinuation that all men should be considered misogynist unless SHE
deems them otherwise, as she does in the case of Mike Lieber, and later
others). Her response set the stage for the polarized discussion which
followed and only continued to degenerate. A women might just as easily
have slipped the word "mankind" unwittingly into a discussion of some
other topic, but none of us would have noticed. None of us.
Mike Forstadt