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From: David Abrahams (dave_at_[hidden])
Date: 2002-11-30 16:09:49

"David B. Held" <dheld_at_[hidden]> writes:

> "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.

So is the idea that I shouldn't use inclusive language. I think it's
worth noting, if you're going to make points about what's intolerant,
that nobody was chided here for making the traditional "he"

> 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.

I think you could be a little more laid back, and not assume that the
very use of inclusive language is an accusation.

>> 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.

Feel free to use whatever language you find appropriate.

> 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.

I don't understand. What could be more inclusive than "male nurse"
when distinguishing a nurse who is a man from one who is a woman?

> 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.

We were already on the edge when discussing the use of language in
this forum, but now we're way off-topic. After this message, if you
want to discuss this further, let's please go to private email.

> 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.

Maybe. As a man, I'm happy disqualify myself from making that

> 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!

No, especially not CS and engineering students, to flog a popular

>> 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.

I think we should leave it to Victor to say what he was doing, but I
suggest that if he feels overly pressured about his chosen mode of
self-expression he could do better than to deride mine.

> 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.

Your challenge may be to be secure enough in your own honor to be able
to choose appropriate language without reacting to the expectations of
others, either by using inclusive language or avoiding it in a show of

                       David Abrahams
   dave_at_[hidden] *
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