Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Little Christmas Present For Me

I have mentioned before that I cannot abide the word "suffragette." It doesn't enrage me quite as much as hearing adult women referring to themselves as "girls," because I understand that discussions of suffrage are few and far between these days and not everyone is familiar with the correct terminology, whereas adult women sure as hell ought to know better than to demean themselves by labeling themselves as children. Nonetheless, why would people talk about suffragists if they didn't have some modest knowledge of the subject? And knowing the correct term is a really modest knowledge of the subject.

Anyway, today a family member who has been going through his late father's professional and personal papers came upon a pamphlet called Guidelines for Equal Treatment of the Sexes in McGraw-Hill Book Company Publications. I can't find a publication date in the pamphlet, but it was stamped as received in my father-in-law's office on Dec. 7, 1974. (Our papa held on to everything, bless him.) On page 8 there are two columns headed "No" and "Yes." One of the items under "No" is "female-gender or diminutive word forms, such as suffragette, usherette, aviatrix. In the "Yes" column you'll find "suffragist, usher, aviator (or pilot)."

Note: Thirty-six years ago, a major publisher referred to "suffragette" as an unacceptable diminutive. Thirty-six years ago! It's time to get with the program.

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