How’s Trix?

Continuing a vague theme about gender in language, I want to look a little at the few gendered words we have in English.

I mentioned recently that actor/actress is still a distinction we often make. There’s waiter/waitress too. And that’s basically it.

There are some specifically female forms that have relatively recently fallen out of favour. Stewardess and manageress, for example. Generally though, we’ve been content to use gender-neutral terms.

Continue reading

What’s the Word for a Male Nurse?

Why, just nurse, of course. But if someone asked you, you’d probably still think for a moment, wouldn’t you? Because it does feel very much like a female job in a lot of ways. And it’s still a role mostly performed by women. It’s evidence of the persistence of gender stereotypes like the idea that women are more natural caregivers.

So of course even though the word for a male nurse is still just nurse, we usually specify that someone is a male nurse. That’s not too surprising, considering how deep our associations between nursing and femininity go.

Continue reading

“Grab them by the…”

…hand? Or, whatever you want really, but again, like yesterday, you can imagine that I’m thinking of something else. Because yesterday I got a good firm grasp of how we use synonyms for penises as insults, now I want to do the same thing from a female perspective. Well, not really from a female perspective I suppose.

Continue reading

International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! I did think a little about whether it was appropriate to wish one a happy International Women’s Day, seeing as there’s still a lot of work being done around the world to secure women’s rights in a variety of areas. But I think today should be a day for celebration, as well as reflection and protest, so happy International Women’s Day! In honour of the day, I’ve decided to take a look at the word woman, and a little bit at how we gender language. And I hope you won’t accuse of mansplaining: I’m just doing what I usually do, just with a feminine focus today (and I’m observing A Day Without a Woman, so who else could I get to do it!). Continue reading

Too Many Cucks

Cuck seems to be the insult du jour, especially since the American presidential election. It’s primarily used by members of the alt-right movement, though I’m loathe to dignify those who identify themselves so with anything approaching membership of an actual political movement. The alt-right claim that they’re offering an alternative to traditional conservative politics in the United States, but to be honest, they just seem to me to be a formless mass of vaguely-connected misogynists, racists, and people who generally seem to be unhappy with themselves, and project that self-loathing outwards. All that seems to unite the alt-right is hatred.

Hatred and fedoras.

What do they mean when they call people cucks? It’s become a kind of catch-all insult, but I have heard it described as referring to people who support the advancement of others over the advancement of their country. Which seems like a really tortuous attempt to link its use with its original meaning. Cuck is an abbreviation of cuckold, which for most of its history, has referred to a man whose wife is having an affair with another man/men. It comes from the old French cucuault meaning cuckoo, the bird that lays its eggs in other birds’ nests. Continue reading