Friday, November 12, 2010


I used to really love doing crossword puzzles.  I have not done one for many years, but I took one up this evening - the Newsday Crossword as it appears in today's (Nov. 11, 2010) New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The theme involved Swiss things.

The clue for 26 across was "Swiss ___ (precision craftspersons)" and was 11 letters: WATCHMAKERS.

Craftspersons?  What the heck is that?  Obviously, this is an agenda-driven euphemistic circumlocution to avoid the dirty word "man."  The creation of such an anguished neologism is due to the feminist movement and its attempt to control thought by manipulating language.  If we can brainwash people to use politically-correct words, so the logic goes, we can brainwash them into having politically-correct thoughts.  It's just simple, straightforward  Orwellianism.  Nothing extraordinary.  It is the linguistic equivalent of asking a man if he has stopped beating his wife, or to put it in Newspeak, asking a person if she or he has stopped beating his/her spouse or significant other.

The brainwashing is bad enough, but how about the verbal butchery?  I mean, is nothing sacred?  I understand people wanting me to abandon my Christianity for a diabolical fantasy of gender-neutralism.  I get it.  But can't brainwashing and political bullying at least be esthetically gracious and elegant?  Is that really too much to ask?  Am I being unreasonable here?  Instead of the economical "craftsman" with a simple pattern of stress on the first syllable, the "new and improved" brainwash-word stresses the antepenultimate syllable creating a hideously unnatural trisyllablic word that nearly must be grunted.  It forces the natural "PER-son" (with the stress on "per") to be said "per-son" with no stress on either syllable - thus rendering the word "person" into a syllablic no-man's land (no-person's land?).  It also includes the four consonants "FSTP" in a row - which somehow just seems more awkward than "FSTM."

And how many female watchmakers in Switzerland are there anyway?  And even so, it really doesn't matter. For a "craftsman" can (like a "first baseman" or a "freshman") be a man or a woman.  This is why Congressman Helen Chenoweth refused to be called "Congresswoman" or "Congressperson."  A congressman can be of either sex.  In fact, a craftsman can even sometimes be neither male nor female, and the word "craftsman" itself can actually be "gender-neutral" - in the case of a power tool from Sears.

There would just be something morally wrong about a circular saw having a tag that says "CRAFTSPERSON" on it.

For a talented man or woman displays what is known as "craftsmanship" - a noun of the neuter gender.  It's hard for me to imagine even the most dyed-in-the-wool ideological feminista ever passing the word "craftspersonship" across her or his angry, humorless lips.  But I could be wrong.  "Craftspersonship" sounds like the name of a boat made of macaroni and cheese.

I think part of the problem is that most English speakers don't seem to know about sex.  Or gender.  If you don't know about sex, I'm going to fill you in.  Are you ready?  Have you sent the children out of the room?  Here's the big secret about sex: it is a biological attribute.  Most living creatures come in two biological varieties: male and female.  There are exceptions, of course.  But most of the animal world - human beings included - displays one sex or the other.  "Gender" has nothing to do with biology.  Gender is a grammatical category: nouns may be masculine, feminine, or neuter.  There is often, but not always, an overlap between sex and gender.

For example, a boy is of the male sex, and the word "boy" is of the masculine gender.  A girl is of the female sex, and the word "girl" is of the feminine gender.  Bulls, stallions, and men are likewise sexually male, and those words are masculine in their gender.  Cows, mares, and women are likewise sexually female and those words are feminine in gender.  Tables, chairs, and crescent wrenches are sexless and the words are gender-neutral.  A craftsman can be a man, a woman, or a cordless drill (and thus be male, female, or of neither sex).

In the German language, a girl (Mädchen) is sexually female but neuter in gender.  In French, a bicycle has no sex at all (poor thing...), but it can have either gender, depending on whether one uses the masculine word vélo or the feminine bicyclette.

Men who want to use women's bathrooms and locker rooms (and vice versa) have come up with an ingenious legal strategy to do so: confuse sex and gender.  A man may claim that God made a mistake and that he is really a woman trapped in a man's body.  And though he may be sexually male, he can describe his gender as "feminine" - and thus claim legal rights to walk into otherwise forbidden areas.  And vice versa.  I have heard some men claim that they are actually lesbians trapped in a man's body.  In that case, I guess the solution would be to use whichever bathroom is unoccupied.

With this notion that gender can be applied to people as opposed to nouns has come the curse of "gender-neutral" terminology.  Thus the waiter and waitress have become "servers"; stewards and stewardesses are now "flight attendants"; and women who appear in the movies are now "actors" - except when they are nominated for Academy Awards.  Ironically, Hollywood is a last-bastion, of sorts, for allowing gender to correspond to sex.

It also results in forms where we are to check off what "gender" we are.

All in all, I think "craftsperson" is cut from the same cloth as George Carlin's observation:
"They want me to call that thing in the street a personhole cover. I think that's taking it a little bit too far. What would you call a lady's man, a person's person? That would make a He-man an It-person. Little kids would be afraid of the boogieperson. They'd look up in the sky and see the person in the moon. Guys would say come back here and fight like a person. And we'd all sing 'for it's a jolly good person.' That's the kind of thing you would hear on late-night with David Letterperson."


Steve said...

Wow! I think if I were that coherent at 2am it would be a miracle. I appreciate your vocabulary and wonder if now we can call you a philoloperson.


HappyFox said...

Excellent, well-written post on a topic that's bugged me for years. Thanks!

Former Army Bandsman, now mother
(For a short time I was both - but I was still confident of both my gender & my sex. And my vocation.)

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

If I were to be a highly awesome liberal, I would note that "person" includes the highly sexist "son" in it - and again reinforces the evil male myth that only sons are of any worth and value.

If you really cared about gender neutral language, you would call them Craftphiles -- keeps the same rhythm and avoids any gender-sex-related language.

::shudder:: Someone might accidentally google onto this post and start using that.

Past Elder said...

If I remember right, "man" derives from a Sanskrit word "manas" for "thinking being".

Therefore, NOT including females under the generic designation Man would be non-inclusive and sexist, exactly the opposite of PC allegations.

Paul said...

Send George Carlin to everyone who helped produce or purchased the de-gendered ELW!

Dcn. Muehlenbruch said...

With all of this gender-neutral vocabulary being cultivated among us, the most curious thing is what has been done to the title "Chairman".

In the new-speak of the age a Chairman has had all humanity removed from the title. He (Chairman) and she (Madam Chairman) have been been transmuted into a piece of furniture (the Chair).

Gender neutrality might be excused in most cases; but when the obfuscation of todays intelligentsia reduces humanity to the product of some craftspersons activity, all humanity has been relegated to the proverbial dustbin.