Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Low hanging fruit

Does the topic line make you nervous about reading this post? Don't worry. All is above board.

I had forgotten what this post was going to be about but with this post by Cro, I am reminded. 

At times it can be difficult to use gender neutral language. A tv ad about drainmen here who unblock your drains also has women who say they are drainmen, and then say something like, well, I am drainwoman. 

Is drainers an appropriate word that describes their work? I am not sure on that one. I do say fishers rather than fishermen. 

As I said recently I've been watching YouTube channels of regional train journeys in Britain and all over the European continent. I am loving watching what I cannot do now because of you know what.

But both and other producers of these train videos use the phrase 'manned ticket office'. I bet nearly half would be 'womanned ticket offices'. It is such low hanging fruit to pick and unlike saying drainers and fishers that some may have issues with, who would object to the phrase a 'staffed ticket office'?

If the ticket office has a cute young or hot man selling tickets, I might want to know it is a manned ticket office, but really, I don't care what sex I buy a train ticket from. Staffed ticket office! Low hanging fruit.

21 comments:

  1. Andrew, has anyone publicly complained about the language in these train videos? Or are you anticipating such a complaint? Or are you complaining yourself? I don't mean to give you a hard time, but it's hard to tell.

    The problem with these language complaints is that they don't take into account the workings of memory. A person could be the most liberal person in the world, but if he--I'm purposely using "he" here--grew up with, say, "mankind" instead of "humankind", and it can become lodged in the brain and then very difficult to unlodge, at least during the course of normal conversation. Verbal speech is always a first draft. Mistakes can be made. The written word, or course, is different. That can always be revised.

    I very much believe that those who identify as "nonbinary" should use "they/them" as pronouns if they so chose, and if you know such a person so choses, you should out of respect do the same thing when talking about or to them. At some future point in time, I've even thought of using "they/them" to describe myself since I have a few unresolved issues in that area (sorry to get personal.) Yet for all my liberal attitude, just last week I'm talking to a friend about two assigned-females-at-birth, two teenagers who still look very much like the gender they were assigned, and had a devil of a time using "they/them" instead of "she/her". I don't think it's bigotry on my part. It's just what I'm used to.

    All that said, the policing of language, what in the USA we call "political correctness", is really just a cry for help from people who have been historically marginalized. If you're white, male, Christian, heterosexual, and a member of an ethnic group that was a colonizer rather than the colonized, you have a right to be annoyed about all this nitpicking over language, but don't feel overly threatened. You still have a LOT going for you.

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    1. I mentioned it in a comment to one of the YouTubers. He made a polite reply but I am not sure if he will change. Both of YouTubers don't speak but only have written commentary on their videos, so that cancels that thought out. Your point about speech and what is lodged in your brain is quite valid.

      Tackling the rest of what you said, I am happy to use whatever pronoun they choose, but if they appear obviously female or obviously male, then I may struggle.

      We hear the phrase political correctness here often enough often with the subsequent addition of 'gone mad'. It is often used as a cover for being offensive and it makes me alert and alarmed when I hear it. I can't agree that a fat, comfortable, old, white faggot like moi should be above criticism. I accept that, if I've chosen my words carelessly. I know I am privileged. Aside from being gay, and yes I have experienced some homophobia but nothing extreme, I like the equalness of sexes and races, and all those who don't quite fit into a box.

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  2. I sometimes struggle with language - but keep trying. Political correctness strikes me as trying to be considerate of other people's feelings, and I have no troubles at all with it. Sadly those who say that political correctness has gone too far themselves don't go far enough I believe.

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    1. Those of us with the best of intentions EC do struggle at times. I also feel the same as you about political correctness. At times it does seem like PC has gone too far, but we need to look at the back story and why it has been called out.

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  3. Dear goddess. that's quite a spam load you received today.

    I've been indulging myself with the lectures of Christopher Hitchens lately who, among a myriad of other topics, speaks on the fear everyone has of honest criticism with no religious agenda or political stripe. EG the word "phobia" is tossed around quite freely. My daughter is a volunteer firefighter, so yeah non-specified sex. I always use fisher now. But the "woke" brigade are driving me mad with the pronouns. And I still have difficulty with a transperson I know who is bearded and and towers at 6'4" over everyone in their stilettos. I stumble over the pronoun.

    XO
    WWW

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    1. WWW, I haven't seen that spam for a while. I suppose just because we mean well and we have good intentions, it doesn't mean we always get it right. We are still human.

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  4. I have been known to say, I will respond to anything, as long as it is said in a kind tone of voice, kind of like an old dog.

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    1. TP, a little sweetness. Thank you.

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  5. It does seem easy to make these linguistic changes. I think people just don't consider the options. We're all trained to speak in certain (old-fashioned) ways, and we just stick to them out of habit.

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    1. Steve, people in your profession have it even tougher to get it right, you being an example to so many impressionable.

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  6. I'm currently enjoying Michael Portillo's train journeys in Australia! Grass? Greener?

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    1. Tasker, I think I have seen those. I could only watch so much Portillo.

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  7. "Staffed ticket office" is trickier to physically say! But in a world where we've allowed to keep words like "anesthetist" (my personal pronunciation nemesis) without finding a less twisty word to use, I'm game.

    I do find it difficult to anticipate and avoid all the ways I can offend people simply because I've been used to certain words all my life. For example, now the name of one of our Canadian provinces is under discussion: British Columbia. I worry that at some point my head will explode with trying to follow all the changes. The truth is probably that it will make my brain stronger, not weaker, to think about and practice these things, and if it helps even one person in my orbit to feel better heard and respected, I will give it my best.

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    1. Jenny, while it is different, I can't see how staffed is harder to say. I am not even game to type the word of the person who knocks you our before surgery, let alone say it. I've not heard about a name change for BC. How interesting. As pointed out earlier, it is much easier to get it correct in writing rather than speech.

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  8. The only thing I understand in your post is the word fisherman, fisher they say in German. I am not a train station specialist, I mostly take the car or when far the plane !

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    1. Gattina, that's interesting about German.

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  9. How about we all rename ourselves carbon-based bipeds and be done with it?
    I can see how a 'staffed" ticket office could quickly become a "stuffed" ticket office, when tickets are not available because trains etc are not running because of some stuff up somewhere along the line.

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    1. I rather like carbon-based bipeds River.

      Good point about stuffed ticket office, but they are disappearing at a rapid rate anyway.

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  10. I did notice, recently, the use of the word 'Garbo' from Oz (was it you?). I suppose that is gender neutral, although I doubt if it was coined for that reason.

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    1. I don't think it was me, Cro. Garbologists as they preferred to be called never embraced the title Garbo and I've yet to see a female Garbo. I am sure if we called them Dustmen, as in My Old Man's... we would contract it to Dusto. Still two syllables and no shorter but that's what we do to keep flies out of our open mouths.

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  11. I'm going with staffed ticket office it's nice and easy and if people 'stuff' it up it bothers me not. I use my instinct, what I say to one I might not say to another, you can usually tell pretty quickly if a person has a sense of humour or not.. it is becoming a rarer personality trait these days, but I say when you lose your sense of humour you're done for 😀😀

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