Dirty, sexy, grammar – gender

by Julie Frayn on July 14, 2012 in  Dirty, Sexy, Grammar,Writing

Woohoo, grammar has sex! I mean a sex. You know, more than one.


Few traces of gender remain in modern English. Are we surprised? “No sex please we’re British.” Well, I’m not British, but I am speaking their language. Just without the awesome accent.

Other than pronouns (he/she, his/hers), or to distinguish animal gender (sow/boar, cow/bull, vixen/dog, doe/buck), much of the genderization on the English language is being wiped out in the name of political correctness.

Credit Liz Popolo, The Lawn

All actresses are now actors. A stewardess is a flight attendant. An heiress is, well, damn lucky. Alderman is Councilor (or the horrific “Alder person”).

Little kids still drop a few sex bombs – fireman, policeman, cowgirl. They’ll grow up and homogenize their language choices soon enough.

How far will the desexification of the English language go?

What will we fall into when we cross the road if not an open manhole?

Will schools stop breaking the year down into semesters? Switch to ovesters? Or just ‘esters?’ There could be three per year and they’d have trimesters. Apt, since getting through high school can be as painful as childbirth.

And someone will have to tell David Bowie he may have to re-release Suffragette City. Though Suffragist City just doesn’t have the same ring.

While the English language is as devoid of sex as my life, French and Spanish are rife with it. The French distinguish between feminine and masculine words with la and le and the Spanish el and la among others. Particular word endings also determine gender, and many languages add a third non-male, non-female gender called ‘neuter.’ But all of this is far beyond this blog (and my knowledge).

Maybe the English language has less sex – or maybe it has an elevated view. It has neutered the masculine, eliminated the feminine. We’re inching closer to gender subjugation-free language.

See? Who needs sex?

Many thanks to Liz Popolo, comic artist, for allowing me to use The Lawn. Please check her out at www.the-lawn.net


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Sheila July 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Speak for yourself chickadee.. lol
Always a great post!


Julie July 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I always do. :) And thanks!

J Timothy Quirk July 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I enjoyed reading your blog as always, Julie! I also enjoyed checking out “The Lawn” and I “liked it” on facebook!

For the subject matter, actually I’m good with using terminology that describes the role and not the gender of the person doing that role. Just me!


Julie July 14, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Me too, Joe. I hate that executor/executrix is still standard in law. Makes the women sound like we’re settling wills with stilettos and a whip. Hm, maybe I should have put THAT in the post! 😀

Kristy Lin Billuni July 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Spectacular and sexy as always, Julie.

I’d love to see this topic expand to discussing the modern and often political problem of gendered singular pronouns and the flourishing alternatives such as zee and zir.

Thanks for another great post!


Julie July 17, 2012 at 10:24 am

Kristy, I hadn’t heard of these alternatives. I Googled it a bit, and I am not a fan. Saying them out loud makes it sound like I’m making fun of a German accent or something. Very odd! Eliminating gender when naming professions or positions makes sense (I am a writer, not a writeress), but eliminating all male/female? No thanks. I am she. She is me. Won’t be he. Or zee…..

Kristy Lin Billuni July 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm

I think you may be right about zee and zir, but I am troubled by the widespread use of “they” and “their” when we need a gender non-specific pronoun.

Julie July 17, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Hm, yes. Especially when the perfectly good “it” is so readily available. 😀 I do prefer that to using “he” for all as is common in legalese (whether they be male, female, or neutered completely), but there is a certain non-human lifelessness about “it.” Or so “they” say…

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