Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Towards a Sex-Positive Utopia

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  • Islander, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    In te reo, there isnt a distinction between she/he/his/hers/her/him - gender is given by names(but not always) or specific gender words - in the South, hakui (for mother) or hakoro (for father - but both words can also mean senior close relatives.) Tama generally means a male young person, but tamaiti is just a kid, and tamariki = children. Hine almost always denotes a female (I know a couple of really odd exceptions, which maybe peculiarly Southern.)

    Language is so much joy!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Some women seem lost in shallow and sneering hedonism.

    See, I'd reply sneeringly to that but I'm so busy with my shallow hedonism.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I’m so busy with my shallow hedonism.

    I prefer my hedonism deep, and with candy scented bubbles. Still, it’s really nice that Gordon does like women – as long as they behave themselves. I’m just hoping he’s going to pop up in a couple of months and reveal it’s all a meta-mantroll performance art piece.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Islander,

    there isnt a distinction between she/he/his/hers/her/him

    Chinese almost gets there with all 3rd person pronouns being [ETA: standard Mandarin pronunciations] tā, tāmen when it is desirable or necessary to note the plural (not compulsory), and tāde for possessive, and there’s no masculine/feminine forms for classes of people like in say, French, German, Russian, and to a slightly lesser extent English (no actor/actress, étudiant/étudiante, fiancé/fiancée), and although some names can be seen as more masculine/feminine, there’s no class of nouns used specifically as names, divided into masculine/feminine/androgynous (my wife’s name is seen as more masculine, a former landlord’s name translated as ‘Orchid Phoenix Water’, and when I met him I was surprised to see a burly bloke rather than a dainty, parasol-carrying lady (in my defence, the phoenix is seen as female and a symbol of the empress in Chinese tradition), but otherwise naming is a total free for all so long as the authorities are able to type the name into their computer), but…

    …gender is far too often built into the writing system. ‘He’ is 他, ‘she’ is 她. See the difference? The left-hand component of ‘he’ is the radical for ‘person’, whereas the left-hand component of ‘she’ is the radical for ‘female/woman’. And I could think of quite a few more instances that seem to be long-standing cultural biases ‘gendering’ what could otherwise be neutral language (yes, Confucius, I’m looking at you).

    Language is so much joy!

    To put it very mildly, yes. Even when it’s infuriating, it is endlessly fascinating.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    "When I win Lotto" 2 of the things I am going to do-
    learn to brushpaint much better than I do now, and
    learn basicwritten Chinese...
    O, there's a whole heap of other stuff too, but those ones would be goers-
    pick me Lotto gods pick me!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    the problem is the people, not the tools they use.

    I get what you’re saying. But I do think language (particularly exclusive/inclusive language) makes a difference to how we perceive and act in the world.

    Instead of being neutral agents transparently revealing the meaning we want to communicate, words carry their own rich histories and associations with them. This is the beauty of language as well as its limitation.

    Changing some of the words we use is a small part of creating social change, but I think it does matter.

    I’d like to not always be saying “he” or “she”, and much as I find “they” inelegant, I do use that sometimes. I dislike always having to divide up the world into female and male, it’s so seldom relevant. Of all the ways we can divide society, that’s the one in just about every sentence we use.

    I’m not saying gender is meaningless or unimportant. But is femaleness or maleness the single most important characteristic any of us has?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lilith __,

    Amen. I particularly don't see any need to use "Actress" to describe a profession with so many dimensions other than gender. So I don't.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Language shapes possibilities about how we understand the world.

    When I reflect on it, I've spent ten years working to get a few words into the world in a particular way, so the right thinking and actions can follow.

    Like having to tell a Titanic captain that ice can be hard to see, but it's worth paying attention. No matter how many words for it you have or are mythically supposed to.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    the problem is the people, not the tools they use

    to a woman with a hammer..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Sacha,

    Language shapes possibilities about how we understand the world.

    When I reflect on it, I've spent ten years working to get a few words into the world in a particular way, so the right thinking and actions can follow.

    Yes. Absolutely. That said, it's still important to pay more attention to people's intentions, to what they mean, than the words they use to say it. Or you end up spending all your time and energy Language Policing, and alienating allies.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Agree that's the trick - setting constructive possibilities, allowing the magic to evolve. Not wagging fingers.

    However, focusing on intention only gets you so far when it's what people and organisations say and do that have an impact. Especially for influential parties like broadcasters and public agencies, changing behaviour regardless of the reason for it is often enough of a win. I'd rather the change was sustainable, which is where understanding intent and demonstrating compassion certainly apply.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Good luck with trying to change the usage of the deepest core of the language. I'd like to see andor and xor used more, but it's just not catching on.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    does not compute :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Yes. Absolutely. That said, it’s still important to pay more attention to people’s intentions, to what they mean, than the words they use to say it. Or you end up spending all your time and energy Language Policing, and alienating allies.

    Or worse, using language policing as a means to power. As I have noted previously, that really gives me the shits.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22744 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    It’s all about gender ratio and equal opportunities, right?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Lilith __,

    Thank you Lilith, that was brilliant.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    That said, it's still important to pay more attention to people's intentions, to what they mean, than the words they use to say it.

    Glad to hear I'm not the only one to believe this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

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