Does anyone remember Connie Chung? She was one of the first female TV news anchors and worked for essentially all broadcast networks and several cable channels at one time or another. She was quite good at her job, perhaps too good since she was terminated for her tenacious interview tactics. One thing I remember very clearly is that she was sometimes referred to as an “anchorette.” Do you remember that? If not, please don’t think the term has gone away over the past few decades. It has not. As proof, I recently saw an article entitled “Television Business News – Hot Anchorette Wars . . . .” There is a lot here that merits discussion, but I’ll stick to the topic at hand.
Over the past twenty or so years I attended numerous high school dance competitions. The teams, made up almost exclusively of female students, had names including Champettes, Tigerettes and Spiralettes, silly names using the suffix “ette,” the diminutive form of the whole. Just as we unconsciously refer to female babies as “little” girls, it generally goes unnoticed that girls’ sports teams are considered “less than” from day one. You may say this is not important precisely because it goes unnoticed, but I disagree. It is the very insidious nature of some words that makes them detrimental.
Think of the multitude of words that are altered to indicate “less than,” such as kitchenette, dinette, towelette and the meaning is clear, they are not the whole, not the real deal. When applied to a person, usherette, bachelorette, suffragette, why would that person not believe they are inferior to the original.
As petty as it may sound, I stated in an earlier post (Words Matter – I) there are words I do not like. It has taken nearly a lifetime for me to fully understand why. Here is a list of some of my least favorite words and terms and short explanations of why.
|“Girls” for women of all ages||Substitute for “women”||Woman is not a dirty word!|
|Lady||Substitute for “woman”||See above!|
|Maid/Matron of Honor||Wedding attendant||No male attendant equivalent|
|Maiden name||Name before marriage||I use “birth name”; in time may not be an issue|
|Miss/Mrs.||Marital status||Mr. for all men regardless of marital status|
|Whore/slut/bimbo/ho||Sexual promiscuity||Why not male equivalents?|
I believe that some words, disguised as harmless, are actually demeaning. Are there words you especially like or dislike? Words you would like to change? Please share your thoughts and opinions with us here in the comment section.