Skip to Content
3-16-2009 @ 6:59PM
'"Crafts(wo)man", "craftsperson", or "crafter" are all inclusive terms that could refer to either a woman or a man. A "craftsman", on the other hand, is a man."No, "crafts(wo)man" isn't a word at all. How do you even say that out loud? "Craftsman" on the other hand, is a person who is skilled at a trade. Centuries of use as a generic term has turned it... generic!"But choosing gender-neutral language does at least prevent us from constantly reinforcing those biases."No. Pointing out that we need a different word because a person happens to be female reinforces those biases. Aren't women good enough to have the same professional title as their peers? For the record, I believe they are."The experiment I set out doesn't presume that people would be very likely to assume that a craftsperson is a woman even with gender neutral language."Interesting. The experiment I set out presumes that people would be more concerned about a person's skill than they are about a person's gender. If you just thought of a blacksmith as someone skilled in metalworking, you might be shockingly surprised to discover a female can do that work as well as a male."The construction of terms by replacing "-man" with "-woman" or "-person" is very common and quite simple."And redundant at the very least. "Craftsman" includes everybody, by definition. It might not look that way at first, but many words are like that. By definition, "craftswoman" is exclusive. "The other option, to freeze the inherent sexism of the language and continue the use of "universally inclusive" male-gendered terms for all time, is much less appealing."Language is not inherently sexist. People are. What's "much less appealing" is worrying about which gendered version of a word you use, when it doesn't even matter."Language evolves according to pressures on it. In this case, the pressure is to represent both men and women equally. "And again I ask, why is gender any more important than skin color or religion or height or anything else? I suspect the reason why nobody has touched this question is that gender is not, in fact, so important that we need to rework the language. It turns out, the language is fine. The people talking, on the other hand, could use some help.
First time? A confirmation email will be sent to you after submitting.
Members enter your username and password.
Enter your AOL or AIM screenname and password.
Please keep your comments relevant to this blog entry. Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments.
When you enter your name and email address, you'll be sent a link to confirm your comment, and a password. To leave another comment, just use that password.
To create a live link, simply type the URL (including http://) or email address and we will make it a live link for you. You can put up to 3 URLs in your comments. Line breaks and paragraphs are automatically converted — no need to use <p> or <br /> tags.