Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Away Team

Has anyone noticed how uncomfortable it is to work at someone else's puter-station? Even when it's a cosy space -- which it very frequently ISN'T -- it's sort of weird to step into someone else's hot seat. I'm sure it's awful for friends/guests who stay over at my abode in Nude Elly -- coz I am the original See No Dust home-owner. So there is a disgusting film of Delhi's finest atmospheric distillate coating every horizontal surface which isn't specifically being used (I mean, for instance, there's never a speck of dust on the actual keyboard of the puter, coz that's a high-traffic arena. But the monitor has a totally natural, organic, gaze-guard of silica particles). It only gets cleaned away when it has built up in dunes high enough that I actually feel threatened by them.

I've been long overdue with this post (i.e., a new post) despite several interesting events to discuss -- I saw the dogme film DOGVILLE recently, for instance and wanted to post about that -- and I travelled to Madras this Sunday -- and saw, in quick succession: THE INCREDIBLES (thrilling), MYSTIC RIVER (interesting but bad print) and David Cronenberg's CRASH (totally ridiculous -- so much so that I am reconsidering my opinion of his EXISTENZ, which I thoroughly appreciated at the time I saw it). But just this minute, having read the comment left behind by gt to my previous post, I am captiviated by the challenge he offers regarding ladybirds. As he points out, the name LADYBIRD must surely cause severe trauma to MALE LADYBIRDS -- and he encourages visitors to this site to think up further examples of such cruel, gender-insensitive nomenclature. Another example he offers is -- though he admits it's not ideal, coz it's a vegetable and hence, for English-speakers, lacks gender -- LADIES' FINGERS (whoaa -- I've forgotten whether that's LADY FINGERS or LADY'S FINGERS or ... ) otherwise known as OKRA in the New World.

So the challenge is to look for nouns, preferably in reference to living creatures, which express a gender bias. One that occurred to me right away was: SEVEN SISTERS -- don't the poor things ever have brothers? Also known as Jungle Babblers (maybe they're the brothers!). And of course, my favourite gender-insensitive word, but NOT an animal species is: MANHOLE. No way we can gender-sensitize that one ...

I'm not inclined to pay attention to words of the HISTORY/HERSTORY persuasion -- we're looking for words where there's a real and obvious problem with referring to the male or female individual belonging to a species which has been actually named to exclude one entire sex. Your move, gracious visitor ...

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

cud live with a male macho ladybird but a malevolent ladybug? (author note - malevolent deriving from male - even meaning evil!
also dictionary - says
ladybird: any of various small beetles (family coccinellidae) with rounded bodies, often brightly colored; also a sweetheart.
ladybug: the ladybird beetle.
so -
a ladybug is just one of a ladybird beetles type and a male ladybug ladybird beetle isnt going to turn around and not, u know, procre8 jus' bcos of some gender sensitive issue in a language. there must be things bigger than beetles. we must seek them. gt

Marginalien said...

Ah but what do Ladybugs call themselves?? No doubt their name for themselves has no reference to ladies or bugs. Or indeed anything we would recognize ...

How odd, for instance, to imagine meeting a visiting extraterrestrial species which would refer to US by some impronounceable alien name! Weirdness abounds in the Universe.

Anonymous said...

yes wierdness - u know the alien might not only not have an unpronouncable word for us, but maybe they don't even use sound waves (needing air and all that!) and their rendition of us might be impossible for us to phathom.{much as we don't know what goes on in a dog's mind).

as usual 4got10 the source -- but - "the universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to discover them".
female mail? i know its trite. sorry. just unable 2 get any more. most irrit8ing! gt

Anonymous said...

madam chairman

"male lasses" are non existent
& "male asses" seem to surround us in glee!
"female lasses " is rendundant
& "female asses" doesnt always imply donkey!
gt {with mucho apologies}

A.A said...

Hi,

I'm absolutely delighted to have found your blog. This isn't a comment on your posting, but just a little note of appreciation from someone who thoroughly enjoyed your play 'Harvest'

We had enacted Harvest in '98 (or was it '99), during my undergrad. It was a fantastic piece, and I remember reading it, and at the first chance I got, I sold the idea of enacting it to the others in our theatre group. I remember, the whole play took about 3 hours to stage, in the middle of which the electricity gave out. We soldiered on without electricity, using two portable lamps, in the steamy madras heat. (One of the actors ad-libbed, 'Is this what you want, this darkness, this heat? Is this the life you want ?') The entire audience stayed on, without airconditioning till the very end. The play moved people, and while there was almost no applause at the end, you could see the audience was deeply disturbed and silent. Personally, I think it was one of the most artistically satisfying pieces of theatre that we had done.

Its been ages since we did this, and all of us have graduated and moved on to jobs and other things, but I think all of us would love to thank you for having written it.

This page has been bookmarked, and I look forward to reading your posts.

-Anil

Marginalien said...

Hey hi and thanks, Anil. Glad to hear about your production of HARVEST, heat and all. I've only seen a couple of staged productions (though I've heard a number of readings, in widely different locations) one of which was truly atrocious. The other, in Greek, in Athens, was brilliant. Sadly, aside from the Athens audiences, no-one saw that production.

Thanks for being in touch -- and watch this space: I have a bit of HARVEST news to share soon -- just waiting for dates and confirmation.

Anonymous said...

heh there miss cyberwriter - u seem to be lagging - no blog 4 2 weeks? i wonder if this "gender/specie sensitive literary litterii" has stalled the proceedings? lets get out the worst category - a male hand maiden, or bridesmaid? the usual types of feminine "horsemen",and a mango (ok, ok)

we need new directions!!! help! start something else. termin8 this!! gt

Marginalien said...

Arf! Your wish is my command (comwomand?)!

An aside: have you ever puzzled over the central conundrum concerning woMAN and MAN? Is MAN after all only a particle of WOman -- and did the WOrld once comprise only of WO(e?)s until a minor mutation resulted in that odd, mishapen Y (= whY?) chromosome that we now call MAN? Is that what the murmuring, mysterious mitochondria tell us?

Or are woMEN after all, only the result of an added particle from MEN, as the Bible likes to tell it? And what of this new (? Is it actually new? Or only recently released to public view?) theory about a cataclysm that occurred around 80,000 years ago which reduced all of humanity to some 2000 individuals, who represent the entire pool of our forebears?

Anonymous said...

aside 2 aside

most women's woes begin with men - from mensuration to men o pause--
mental to ornamental

whereas men just sits snugly in women! gt