inclusive language, 55kg/168cm

Danny Yee (danny@STAFF.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Mon, 2 Jan 1995 14:02:45 +1000

Mike Lieber writes:
> I have one more thing to say, and I know that it isn't going to make
> me popular with most people here, but what the hell, I'll just have
> to live without dinner invitations from pissed off colleagues.

Consider yourself invited to dinner if you ever find yourself in Sydney,
though I actually disagree with you here:

> I noticed that there were very few responses to Bjorn Fry's blatant
> ethnocentrism. No one appeared to be offended by them. Maybe because
> Bjorn is so clearly well intentioned. But the response to Ruby's post
> was immediate and massive. This is not the first time on this net
> that an earnest young woman has gotten flamed fast while an equally
> earnest young man posts some of the most ethnocentric stuff imaginable
> without so much as a peep.

I don't think the comparison is that simple. Ruby got flamed because
of her *tone* as much as because of her content. Many of those who
replied to her specifically stated that they agreed with what she was
saying, just not with the way she said it. I certainly don't think
it had anything to do with Ruby being a woman -- heck, I couldn't
have told anyone whether she was male or female until this flared up.

Of course, if Ruby hadn't been so aggressive about it, she might
have just been ignored. I half suspect she did it deliberately --
she must have had a good idea what the response from people like
Marius and Lief would be.

For once I agree with

Rob Quinlan:
> Similarly, there are better, more accurate terms to refer to all
> humans than "mankind". As allegedly professional anthropologists we
> should use the more accurate terms.

Exactly. There is a difference between insisting that anthropologists
in a public forum get their terminology right and "attempting to
impose linguistic standards", violate "free speech", and all the
other accusations that were leveled at Ruby.

Micki Korp:
> Please, my side of the human race cannot win this one alone. We need
> some big guys on our side this round. Everyone of us who is a teacher
> has a necessary role here.

Though the only teaching I do is training my users in how to
use the Internet, I do do my best in my writing. I try to use
non-gender-specific language and I throw in the odd use of 'her/she'
as a generic pronoun every so often to make up for the occasional lapse
(and to make people stop and think).

I'm not really a "big guy" though, since I weigh about 55kg and am only
168cm tall. (Sorry, no imperial units for you backward Americans :)

Danny Yee.

P.S. I can see everyone is enjoying this flame-war. Let's face it,
most people *like* the occasional purely emotional argument. (It's
probably a welcome break from having to think :-).