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uncle ebeneezer
04-15-2010, 02:24 PM
Just a question to everyone out there. I have had a couple people (girlfriends usually) take issue with the fact that I sometimes use the term "female" when discussing differences between genders rather than "women." I certainly don't mean it in any derisive sense. I think it's just the habit from reading and commenting on scientific blogs etc., that use those terms (regardless of the species.) I think that girl/woman suggests different levels of maturation so I tend to avoid them unless the issue is specifically tied to age/experience. Anyways, I was just curious if anyone else has gotten flack for using male/female rather than men/women and what your thoughts on it are.

nikkibong
04-15-2010, 02:28 PM
nope, but i have had trouble with "bitches."

handle
04-15-2010, 03:34 PM
Just a question to everyone out there. I have had a couple people (girlfriends usually) take issue with the fact that I sometimes use the term "female" when discussing differences between genders rather than "women." I certainly don't mean it in any derisive sense. I think it's just the habit from reading and commenting on scientific blogs etc., that use those terms (regardless of the species.) I think that girl/woman suggests different levels of maturation so I tend to avoid them unless the issue is specifically tied to age/experience. Anyways, I was just curious if anyone else has gotten flack for using male/female rather than men/women and what your thoughts on it are.

Just conjecturing, but perhaps the fact that the root of the word is "male" conjures the biblical concept of them being an extension of the male, formed of the rib. A concept which, I feel, implies a relatively inferior status (a cruel and ignorant way of thinking, IMHO, but one that persists).

In case this leads to a "chicken or egg" type discussion, I would like to prematurely weigh in as saying my answer to the age old question, is: Probably cyanobacteria.
But then I'm one of those delusional believers in that form of mass hysteria commonly referred to as "science", or "empiricism" and base my conclusions on "evidence", when everyone (the majority) knows God came first, made everything real fast, and left millions of clues to make us erroneously conclude otherwise.
I will keep my head in the sand, however, as I can not face the devastating feeling of having been punked by the universe... what was the question again? I gotta cut back on the caffeine.. carry on.

Ocean
04-15-2010, 06:12 PM
nope, but i have had trouble with "bitches."

LOL!

Ocean
04-15-2010, 06:16 PM
Just a question to everyone out there. I have had a couple people (girlfriends usually) take issue with the fact that I sometimes use the term "female" when discussing differences between genders rather than "women." I certainly don't mean it in any derisive sense. I think it's just the habit from reading and commenting on scientific blogs etc., that use those terms (regardless of the species.) I think that girl/woman suggests different levels of maturation so I tend to avoid them unless the issue is specifically tied to age/experience. Anyways, I was just curious if anyone else has gotten flack for using male/female rather than men/women and what your thoughts on it are.

As a female, I can tell you no problem at all. In the right circumstances, it can even be very sexy. ;)

kezboard
04-15-2010, 06:27 PM
I'm a female, and it drives me crazy. Not because of the fact that the root of the word is "male" (AFAIK it actually isn't) but because... I don't know, it's just annoying. I guess if I had to come up with some sort of reason why it annoys me, it would be that it sounds like scientists sizing up monkeys or some other sort of animal. "Ah, that female is in estrus!" By the way, I'm equally annoyed by the use of "male" as a noun.

I suppose another reason I don't like it is because it's the word "females" that is usually employed when a jackass is making gross generalizations about women.

handle
04-15-2010, 06:54 PM
I'm a female, and it drives me crazy. Not because of the fact that the root of the word is "male" (AFAIK it actually isn't) but because... I don't know, it's just annoying. I guess if I had to come up with some sort of reason why it annoys me, it would be that it sounds like scientists sizing up monkeys or some other sort of animal. "Ah, that female is in estrus!" By the way, I'm equally annoyed by the use of "male" as a noun.

I suppose another reason I don't like it is because it's the word "females" that is usually employed when a jackass is making gross generalizations about women.

Another half-baked conjecture bites the dust...

Wonderment
04-15-2010, 07:10 PM
I suppose another reason I don't like it is because it's the word "females" that is usually employed when a jackass is making gross generalizations about women.

Context is (pretty much) everything.

I think Unc Eb is on to something in that "female" works well in scientific discourse: "The female population of Slovenia is ---...." But the word is sketchy when used colloquially ("The females in the office are getting together on Saturday.") When used by a certain category of males it's slightly pejorative code stressing characteristics the male is critical of.

Wonderment
04-15-2010, 07:12 PM
As a female, I can tell you no problem at all. In the right circumstances, it can even be very sexy.

Interesting how different the connotations are in espaņol: hembra y macho.

AemJeff
04-15-2010, 07:13 PM
Context is (pretty much) everything.

I think Unc Eb is on to something in that "female" works well in scientific discourse: "The female population of Slovenia is ---...." But the word is sketchy when used colloquially ("The females in the office are getting together on Saturday.") When used by a certain category of males it's slightly pejorative code stressing characteristics the male is critical of.

There's also the distance, the implied objectivity, that the term carries. "Female" doesn't even acknowledge the humanity of its subject.

Ocean
04-15-2010, 07:21 PM
Interesting how different the connotations are in espaņol: hembra y macho.

Yes, that's true. I have become desensitized to the possible negative connotations of the words male/female due to being exposed to the constant use of these terms in scientific literature. However, in Spanish "hembra/macho" are not used in the scientific literature when referring to people, only when in reference to animals. When you refer to people, you would use "sexo femenino o sexo masculino", or you can use "hombres/mujeres."

The colloquial use of hembra/macho is rather vulgar.

Ocean
04-15-2010, 07:22 PM
"Female" doesn't even acknowledge the humanity of its subject.

Well, it only acknowledges one circumscribed aspect of the humanity of its subject.

uncle ebeneezer
04-15-2010, 07:23 PM
This is the point comes up most often. Some say it is dehumanizing. But that is odd because it often comes up during discussion where the subject is already established to be about human behavior and I use male as the appropriate counterpart (so there's no man/female imbalance of terms). The whole thing is strange to me since I would never take offense to somebody referring to me as a male, in any context. Thanks for all your input.

AemJeff
04-15-2010, 07:26 PM
Well, it only acknowledges one circumscribed aspect of the humanity of its subject.

It's a comparison to "woman," or "girl," or whatever. I'm not implying a personal judgment, just speculating about what might seem off-putting to some people.

Ocean
04-15-2010, 07:28 PM
It's a comparison to "woman," or "girl," or whatever. I'm not implying a personal judgment, just speculating about what might seem off-putting to some people.

Yes, I realize my opinion is biased due to the common use in scientific literature, and also because I may be missing some subtle connotation which I wouldn't pick up on due to English being my second language.

listener
04-15-2010, 07:29 PM
There's also the distance, the implied objectivity, that the term carries. "Female" doesn't even acknowledge the humanity of its subject.

That's true. A woman's only human (h/t Aretha Franklin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_tCirtA1tk)), while female does not specify humanity.

Reading this thread, it occurs to me that I don't recall hearing women using the word "male" in this context with the same frequency (if at all) as men use the word "female" (that is, as a synonym or stand-in for "man" and "woman").

As a man, I have sometimes heard the word "female" used among men in a way that is mildly derogatory (or sometimes just as a term of bafflement). I wonder if women use the word "male" amongst themselves in a similar fashion (I tend to doubt it, but don't really know).

As far as the question of whether it is offensive to women, it seems that with the statistically significant sampling of 2 women that we have so far, opinion is split 50-50.

Maybe this discussion can be folded into the recent Bob Wright-Mickey Kaus "ma'am" colloquy. :)

Ocean
04-15-2010, 07:30 PM
This is the point comes up most often. Some say it is dehumanizing. But that is odd because it often comes up during discussion where the subject is already established to be about human behavior and I use male as the appropriate counterpart (so there's no man/female imbalance of terms). The whole thing is strange to me since I would never take offense to somebody referring to me as a male, in any context. Thanks for all your input.

I tend to agree with your position, but the case that others make is that, as you already know, some people (women in this case) may find it offensive or dehumanizing.

AemJeff
04-15-2010, 07:32 PM
This is the point comes up most often. Some say it is dehumanizing. But that is odd because it often comes up during discussion where the subject is already established to be about human behavior and I use male as the appropriate counterpart (so there's no man/female imbalance of terms). The whole thing is strange to me since I would never take offense to somebody referring to me as a male, in any context. Thanks for all your input.

Guys do, as a general matter, seem to worry rather less than girls about "objectification." I'd speculate that that's because, at (the very) least, as a matter of sexual politics, issues relating to ownership (or the appearance of ownership) are far more likely to have arisen (historically) for women than for men. They're rightfully touchier about that.

popcorn_karate
04-15-2010, 07:32 PM
The whole thing is strange to me since I would never take offense to somebody referring to me as a male, in any context.

yeah, but just like your girlfriend, you get a little upset about being referred to as a "female"

see - its universal.

Ocean
04-15-2010, 07:35 PM
Maybe this discussion can be folded into the recent Bob Wright-Mickey Kaus "ma'am" colloquy. :)

I recently had a male (what else could I use here?) patient who would sit down and would answer "Yes ma'am." or "No ma'am." to my questions.

I had a female patient who would tell me "Yes, sweety." or "No, sweety."

Isn't it obvious which one is more annoying?

Ocean
04-15-2010, 07:36 PM
yeah, but just like your girlfriend, you get a little upset about being referred to as a "female"

see - its universal.

I think PK has a point.

uncle ebeneezer
04-15-2010, 07:45 PM
Nice!!

Yes I think you guys are all right. Women have historical reasons to be touchy about it. But any of the girls/women/females who know me personally, usually are well aware of my tendency to use more scientific language (as an armchair science afficianado) even in everyday life, and my very liberal borderline feminist political views towards "women's issues" for lack of a better term.

The irony of the whole thing is that I have said so many WAY more offensively objectifying things in my years (and have changed perspective over the years to be much more cautious with my words out of respect for my fellow human beings) so it's funny when someone gets touchy about something so trivial in my mind.

listener
04-15-2010, 08:40 PM
I recently had a male (what else could I use here?) patient who would sit down and would answer "Yes ma'am." or "No ma'am." to my questions.

I had a female patient who would tell me "Yes, sweety." or "No, sweety."

Isn't it obvious which one is more annoying?

Yes, ma'am. ;)

Ocean
04-15-2010, 08:43 PM
Yes, ma'am. ;)

That's right, sweety. ;)

listener
04-15-2010, 08:48 PM
That's right, sweety. ;)

:D

JonIrenicus
04-16-2010, 03:10 AM
I'm a female, and it drives me crazy. Not because of the fact that the root of the word is "male" (AFAIK it actually isn't) but because... I don't know, it's just annoying. I guess if I had to come up with some sort of reason why it annoys me, it would be that it sounds like scientists sizing up monkeys or some other sort of animal. "Ah, that female is in estrus!" By the way, I'm equally annoyed by the use of "male" as a noun.

I suppose another reason I don't like it is because it's the word "females" that is usually employed when a jackass is making gross generalizations about women.

I for one hate it when people make generalizations about women. Which is why we must learn to be more sensitive and egg shell averting in our discourse and actions, like the fine women in this clip show us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3uyz2DT56E#t=6m10s

Lyle
04-16-2010, 11:56 PM
Just don't use "split-tail". Women/females/ladies/chicks don't like it.

... actually, worry about the girl who is worried about the use of "females". That's a bit ridiculous.

nikkibong
04-17-2010, 10:59 AM
Just don't use "split-tail". Women/females/ladies/chicks don't like it.

... actually, worry about the girl who is worried about the use of "females". That's a bit ridiculous.

says the 40 year old virgin

AemJeff
04-17-2010, 11:00 AM
says the 40 year old virgin

What was your first clue?

nikkibong
04-17-2010, 11:03 AM
What was your first clue?

one of many:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=%22lyle%22+%22penis%22+bloggingheads&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

Ocean
04-17-2010, 11:36 AM
What was your first clue?

LOL!



PS: At first I thought this was Lyle's response, which would have been typical of him. :)

kezboard
04-17-2010, 07:31 PM
Women have historical reasons to be touchy about it.

To make myself clear, I'm not actually offended by the use of "females", and I've never actually thought hard enough about it to come up with the dehumanization angle (although it's plausible). I just think it's annoying because it sounds a bit clinical and jargonish. It's somewhere near the bottom of my list of irritating language phenomena, way below "impactful" and "between you and I". I am even less offended, but much more annoyed, at the har-har-feminists-have-no-sense-of-humor jokes that necessarily come up whenever "women's issues" are mentioned on this board.

listener
04-29-2010, 12:53 AM
This just in: Rachel Maddow interviewed none other than Barbara Boxer tonight, and closed the interview by saying to Ms. Boxer, "Thank you, ma'am, I really appreciate it."

(Well, at least she didn't say, "Thank you, sweety,...")

claymisher
04-29-2010, 01:22 AM
I avoid using the word women as an adjective, as in women astronauts, women judges, etc. I don't know if it's correct or not (I'm sure BJ has some ideas) but it's always sounded weird to me.