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From: David B. Held (dheld_at_[hidden])
Date: 2002-11-30 15:39:54

"David Abrahams" <dave_at_[hidden]> wrote in message
> [...]
> how does that make Victor's point?

Historically, the masculine gender was used to denote an anonymous
person, with no intended message about the superiority of any gender.
It isn't until very recently, with the advent of political correctness and
"inclusive language" have we turned this tradition into an accusation
of chauvinism and misogyny, despite the well-meaning intentions of
unwitting authors. The idea that we have to cater to every possible way
that someone could be offended is a bit *intolerant*, if you ask me. I
certainly don't condone the use of inflammatory language designed to
cause conflict or spark controversy. On the other hand, I think our
society could be a little more laid back, and not assume that so many
things we say are meant to imply something derogatory.

> Engineering departments, conferences, seminars and newsgroups
> filled only with men do tend to get boring, don't you think?


> An argument can be made that using "he" everywhere makes the field
> less-welcoming to women.

Yes, such arguments can and are regularly made. I personally find
them less than convincing. Some men are bothered by the term
"male nurse", especially when applied to them. One man was so
bothered by it that he shot three of his nursing school professors (or
something like that). Yet I don't hear any calls for "inclusive language"
in this regard. In my experience, the number one reason women
don't go into engineering fields is not because they feel unwelcome,
but because engineering disciplines simply don't interest them.
While there are certainly still elements that discourage women from
engineering, I find there is a growing, perhaps even majority crowd
that welcomes, and even panders to female engineers of all
persuasions. When I went to school, the female computer science
students often got special breaks on tests and projects, because
the department was so concerned that they succeed. Of course,
none of it was official, but the idea that engineering is unwelcoming
to women is less and less defensible, in my opinion. And I certainly
never met CS or engineering students that complained that there
were too many women in their classes, or that they would not
welcome more!

> If I can do some small part to counteract that, so much the better.

And I don't mind that at all. To each his own. I think Victor was
merely expressing the frustration of having society tell him how he
ought to speak, write, and even think with regards to PC. And even
though I am not really bothered by inclusive language, I agree that
it is frustrating when an overzealous liberal (not you, but I'm sure
we've all met them) insists that everyone use it. The main reason I
am bothered by such insistence is not the idea that someone is
telling me what to do so much as the implication that if I don't do it,
I am myself a misogynistic pig. It is *that* implication that offends
my honor and gives me a distaste for political correctness. I'm all
for more women in computing. ;)


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