Saturday, December 18, 2010

more words I don't like

Since I'm having a party that means one thing: cleaning. Lots of cleaning. I sure do miss living with my ex-boyfriend, at least the part where he insisted on hiring someone to clean our apartment on a regular basis. That was sweet.

But I have to take a break once in awhile - so I decided to blog while on my cleaning break.

Here are words I don't like: "actress", "comedienne" and "sculptress." The last one you don't hear too often but all these words represent the unnecessary genderizing of occupations. Are female stand-up comics so womanly that they can't be called comedians? And sculptress really points up the randomness of these feminized terms - I never hear of a female painter being called a "paintress" or a "paintrix" or whatever other godforsaken term anybody might invent. Why the term "actress" but not "playwrightress"? Or directrix?

Actually I think we are likely to be stuck with "actress" for a long time. As long as men utterly dominate the performing arts - as producers, directors, writers, technicians, etc., the gender of an actor is very important. And the roles for "actresses" are traditionally, and to a lesser degree today - but still - very specifically for females. The girlfriend or wife or mother roles are the most likely roles a female actor will get. Because most playwrights seem to figure there's no point in making a character female unless its reproductive organs must specifically be female.

The only feminized word I think works is "dominatrix" - although mainly because there doesn't seem to be a male occupation that quite matches. But that word is not used much on a daily basis - at least in the circles I travel in. Your mileage may vary.