River Wissey Lovell Fuller


May 2009

Ian waxes lurical on a recent EU pamphlet...

Gender neutrality and the testiculators

"What is he on about now?" I hear you shout. Well about a month ago, there were reports in the press that the European Parliament had issued a "Gender Neutral Language" pamphlet recommending that MEPs address female members by their full names only. Mrs, Miss, Ms, Frau, Fraulein, Senora and Senorita are all banned. Not content with this, the authors of the pamphlet tell members to call sportsmen "athletes", statesmen become "political leaders" and man-made becomes "synthetic" or "artificial". Other banned terms are fireman, air-hostess, headmaster, policeman, salesman, cinema usherette and male nurse. The MEPs are allowed to use the terms "waitress" and "waiter" as no gender neutral term has been proposed for these. Similarly, the pamphlet can devise no male version of "midwife". So, here we are, the financial world as we know it is going to Hell in a basket and these testiculators are spending time, effort and money sorting out gender neutrality of all things!

What is a testiculator? In previous articles, we have discussed the following dictionary definitions: "Gesticulate - To make gestures, as in speaking" (The Modern Standard Dictionary)

"Testiculate - To make gestures while talking b*ll*cks"(Nisbet's Common Dictionary)

"Testiculator - One who testiculates, as in MEP" (Nisbet's Common Dictionary)

The above set me wondering. I can understand some females not wanting to be known as a man, as in "salesman" but I have problems seeing why females should object to being called by the title "Mrs" or "Miss". In fact, when I have to reply to a lady who has written to me and has ended the letter with just their name, eg. signed over a typewritten title-less "Joan Smith", I have always made a point of finding out whether they are Mrs, Miss or Ms because I consider it discourteous to address a letter to a lady without the dignity of a title to their name.

If you look on the worldwide cobweb Gender neutrality websites, you will see just how wrong I am. "Many gender-specific words and usages imply male superiority and denigrate women. For example, words that denote positions of power and authority are often associated with men, such as "chairman" while words denoting more lowly positions are often associated with women, eg "waitress". The title "Mr" is used of men regardless of marital status, while the titles "Miss" and "Mrs" indicate a woman's marital status and thus signal her sexual availability to men in as way that men's titles do not. Many books have been written, advising how to use gender-neutral or "non-sexist" language. I have canvassed dozens of female patients and friends and I have yet to find one who objects to being known as "Mrs, Miss or Ms". If you want a real laugh, look up gender neutral toilets on the web. These are used at conventions for gay, lesbian and transgender people and you will be amazed at what is written about these WCs. The problem with normal male and female WCs is that many of the above agonise at length over which toilet to use and many become constipated. The gender-neutral toilets were designed to solve this problem. The idea failed miserably and you should read about it!

Some females are not "buying in" to gender neutrality. Increasing numbers of actresses are calling themselves actors and Canadian, Australian, British and Irish fishers (the gender neutral version of fishermen) are demanding to be called fishermen. Similarly, many female horse-riders prefer to be called horsemen.

I was at a medical conference and I put forward the idea of gender neutrality. Ophthalmologists thought the whole idea short-sighted, the obstetricians felt that the whole thing was a misconception, the psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness but the radiologists could see right through it. The gastroenterologists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow and had a sort of gut feeling about it, the neurologists thought the proponents had a lot of nerve, the podiatrists thought it was a step forward, the plastic surgeons felt it put a whole new face on the matter and the urologists declared themselves p*ssed off with the whole idea. The surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing and the rectal surgeons decided to leave the matter to the anally retentive a*s*h*les who were dealing with it.

When talking to a call-centre, to a person whom I have never met, I am always irritated to be called by my Christian name. I usually ask "Do I know you?" which leads into "I was just wondering why you were using my first name". My friend Paolo, who has run some very prestigious hotels in his time, such as the George V in Paris, and who upset Spanish newspapers recently by refusing to install contraceptive vending machines because "my guests have always been perfectly happy to use the shower cap", always asks the call centre operator "Have I slept with you?" when she used his Christian name. I am not sure he would de the same to a male operator! Best wishes to you all -

Ian G. Nisbet

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