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Omachuck's appeal

richardshagrin
Updated:

Omachuck posted a blog today that asks if fellow should be replaced in his context by fellow captives.

One reader pointed out that my usage of "fellows" could be viewed as both archaic and sexist. I don't necessarily agree, but if it is a problem - I want to fix it.

Please give me your opinion on the change from - "I want you to know that nothing that has happened during your captivity is your fault. Your job was to survive and to help your fellows to survive." to "Your job was to survive and to help your fellow captives to survive."

I think the change is not needed. Gender police object to the Declaration of Independence saying all men are created equal. They don't like human because it contains man. Person contains son. I think we are all jolly good fellows and that includes all the sexes. There are at least three, as far as I can remember. Right?

Straight, Bent, Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgendered, and I don't know. Maybe too young and too old for it to matter. I probably left some out, Transgendered may have important subdivisions, the same way homosexual is so broad we need gay and lesbian to be sure not to leave anyone out. And Pointers and Setters for toilet room labels.

Capt Zapp

@richardshagrin

"Your job was to survive and to help your fellows to survive." to "Your job was to survive and to help your fellow captives to survive."


Personally, the use of 'fellows' seems a bit awkward while 'fellow captives' has a better flow. The only wording I could come up with that didn't sound 'sexist' was 'co-captives'.

And Pointers and Setters for toilet room labels.


How about 'TABS' and 'SLOTS' ;)

Replies:   rustyken
rustyken

@Capt Zapp

What an opportunity for wordsmithing!

My preference would be: "Your job was to survive and to help those with you survive."

or,
"Your job was to survive and to help those with you survive."

And there are a number of other choices. If the other captives are friends then there are other ways to word.

Cheers

awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

I prefer fellow captives.

AJ

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@richardshagrin

I'd use "fellow captives", simply because it's clearer. "Fellows" might be sexist if the group consisted of both men and women, as you're assuming the only ones who count are the men, but if they're all guys, then it shouldn't be an issue. But again, I'd still use "fellow captives" since "fellows" doesn't seem entirely appropriate.

Now, getting into the nit-picking which undoubtedly arises when you ask authors their opinions, I'd drop the "I want you to know" as unnecessary and exceedingly long. I'd instead go with "Understand that ...".

I'd make it:


"[Understand] that nothing [which] happened during your captivity [was] your fault. Your job was to [help everyone] survive."


"Everyone" is simply more concise that "fellows" or "fellow captives", while you've got your tenses wrong mid-sentence.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer


"Everyone" is simply more concise that "fellows" or "fellow captives"


Except "everyone" is boring. "Captives" (as in fellow captives) has a great connotative image.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Except "everyone" is boring. "Captives" (as in fellow captives) has a great connotative image.

I concur. Drop the "fellow" entirely and "the captives" is slightly shorter.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Drop the "fellow" entirely and "the captives" is slightly shorter.


I'd leave it as "fellow captives." They're not just captives, but part of his group.

graybyrd

One reader pointed out that my usage of "fellows" could be viewed as both archaic and sexist.


Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! (Oh, my achin' ASS!)

First, let's us all ignore the frickin' fact that the English language (at least here on this chunk of dirt betwixt the Atlantic & Pacific coasts north of the Gulf of Mexico (and no, TEXAS does not count. They talk 'n write "Texican" and that's different) anyway, we DO NOT have much of a list of gender-neutral words to choose from. So we're stuck with limited choices.

At least you didn't write "Your job was to survive and to help them swingin' dicks to survive." (That's Rambo-style. We'll pass on that.)

So if "fellows" is offensive, and you don't want to bend and twist and torture the flow of the sentence with awkward word choices, which "fellow captive" is surely awkward and clumsy: "my fellow Americans" has become a face-slap for ridicule; "fellow captives" isn't far behind.

In the good ol' John Wayne WW-Deuce Days we'd have said "your job was to survive and help your men survive" ... simples. Nobody got their panties in a wad. Everybody cheered. Bad guys died; good men survived.

Notice something odd about tone in here:

fellows = distant, impersonal, them
men = us, close, group
women = prisoners? emotion, anger, war crime
fellow captives = sounds like a social club.

My point: if you're going to be fearful that every word is going to be examined in the spotlight of political correctness; more specifically, gender words in a language that doesn't support substitutions without contortions and mutilations... then give it up. They managed to invade the pool hall and shit on all the pool tables. Pick up yer cue and grab yer balls and go home. It just ain't worth enduring the stench.

bondsman

@richardshagrin

I'll add a bit of missing detail that should simplify the problem a bit, the captives were all female.

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@bondsman

I'll add a bit of missing detail that should simplify the problem a bit, the captives were all female.


Not funny. Female captives aren't "fellows;" at least not in the normal usage of the word. In stiff and stilted usage, perhaps, but to refer to the group of women captives as "your fellows" is deceptive & twisted.

Simply say, "help the women to survive" --or-- if gender reference is unwanted, say "help the prisoners to survive."

Come to think of it, this entire thread has become a bit pointless and twisted.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

Come to think of it, this entire thread has become a bit pointless and twisted.

But isn't that the point, of the Forum, at least?

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@Crumbly Writer

But isn't that the point, of the Forum, at least?


Hadn't really noticed ... but it could be arranged, I s'pose.

sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

Except "everyone" is boring. "Captives" (as in fellow captives) has a great connotative image.

I concur. Drop the "fellow" entirely and "the captives" is slightly shorter.

A quote from Lazlo Zalezac which seems to fit the bill:
It would make interesting conversation over coffee with his co-workers.

Omachuck

Funny, I never thought to look to this group for an answer and funnier that the most common answer through direct email did not appear here.

"help each other survive."

The reader was trying to be helpful as the speech was an attempt to comfort the women after a hurtful ordeal.

I received a number of comments on this, including on thanking me for caring to be precise in my wording.

Anyway, its done and changed. Thanks.

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@Omachuck

Which, unfortunately, leaves the original premise unanswered: we've now reached a point where we dare not use gender specific words or phrases--most especially if the object is masculine--lest we offend some readers? Is that where we're at?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

Which, unfortunately, leaves the original premise unanswered: we've now reached a point where we dare not use gender specific words or phrases--most especially if the object is masculine--lest we offend some readers? Is that where we're at?

Sorry, but I refuse to buy into this 'everyone hates us white guys' routine. Yes, the world is more complicated, now that we can no longer ignore minorities as we used to, but that doesn't mean we can't use the appropriate pronouns, only that we need to be aware of the conflicts in their use, and bear that in mind.

If you don't want to deal with pronoun issues, then don't friggin' write trans stories, as you're obvious not qualified to!!!

However, as Omachuck notes, a little research produces stronger results than relying on others, equally ignorant of the issues.

I reported how I handled the issue in my stories, and what I've learned by discussing the issue with LGTB people--which is to take it on an individual basis--but the best answer is always Do your OWN bloody research if you're not comfortable with the topic!

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@Crumbly Writer

If you don't want to deal with pronoun issues, then don't friggin' write trans stories, as you're obvious not qualified to!!!


I'll assume that you feel better now that you've got that self-righteous rant off yer chest.

My question has absolutely nothing to do with LBGT issues. I haven't had an issue since 1961 when a fellow sat down next to me in a San Francisco bar and put his hand on my leg ... I was just down from a small mountain valley in the Cascade Mountains, serving my first year in Uncle Sam's Drinking & Yachting Club. (No, I didn't insult or accost him, but I did leave. First time a feller ever did that to me, and I was in my dress blues at the time. I guess sailors were fair game back in the day. OK--that's my "rant" off my chest.)

My comment was addressed to the objection that was raised over the term "fellow" ... and the on-going gender objections to terms such as "fireman," "policeman," "workman," ... any term with "man" or other masculine gender reference.

Don't you think that a reader objecting to "fellow" is just a touch over the top?

And research what, exactly? Politically-correct substitutions for gender-indicative words?

Just fer giggles, here's a sample:

I can see a "chairwoman" as opposed to "chairman", but I think that also raises hackles. And "chairperson" is no good. "Madame Chairperson, I object!" sounds weird. "Madame Chairman" twists the gender, but that's probably what we're stuck with; and "Madame Chairwoman" will get a chair broke over yer skull.

So... which is it, Sparky? Or are we going to git into some lunatic rave about LBGT which was never the point?

My point again is: are we so sensitive to gender-reference words that we duck and cover whenever we use one?

awnlee jawking

@graybyrd


My point again is: are we so sensitive to gender-reference words that we duck and cover whenever we use one?


Yes. And add race to gender too. The professionally offended are very imaginative in finding reasons to stamp their feet.

AJ

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@awnlee jawking

Yet another reason to have short first names for your characters, like Bob or Nan. You can just use that rather than she said or he said. If I had to type Wolfgang or Roosevelt every time my character spoke, I'd probably prefer to offend the easily offended.

Omachuck

In this case, and this case only, the person who wrote was not riding a bigot colored horse. He was pointing out that when speaking to someone who had been abused/raped, a gender specific reference might not be as effective as the MC wished.

I agree with him. It was a very thoughtful and sympathetic observation. Not every comment of this nature is PC based, some folks are more precise in their use of words than others. I try to be, and appreciate when someone points out where I can do better. In my blog, I tried to be careful to phrase the request so as not to indicate a flame or even PC.

When flamed in either direction, I have a very effective delete key.

Your responses have been very interesting. Thanks

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@graybyrd


My comment was addressed to the objection that was raised over the term "fellow" ... and the on-going gender objections to terms such as "fireman," "policeman," "workman," ... any term with "man" or other masculine gender reference.


If you go back and read the replies, I can't remember a single complaint about the terms "fireman" or "policeman". Instead, you went way off topic by suggesting that there's a global conspiracy blaming the white man for everything that's wrong with the country (my interpretations, not your actual words).

I can understand your frustration, but my poorly worded attack was simply a suggestion to avoid topics you don't have the exposure to, to minimize offending people. It's not a matter of 'Politically Correct Thinking', it's that significant segments of the country have issues that have long been ignored by the white majorities who insist on viewing everything through a single lens. That works when they're still in the majority, but it fails completely when other voices get equal time.

In short, I still don't see what your issue is. Any time I write a story where I'm not familiar with the characters' background, I do research to ensure I adaquately represent that community. In the case of transgendered folk, I read multiple views on the issue of pronouns, and eventually decided that no one can possibly follow each conflicting guideline. Instead, what's called for is sensitivity, and treating each specific use of a gender pronoun as a personal choice, rather than a dictate from on high about how everyone must refer to everyone else.

I seriously doubt there are many trans people who insist you start calling any person of either sex "s/he" or "sher". What they're asking, is that people respect their ability to define who they are for themselves. It's that simple.

That said, yes, my response was clearly over the top, as I was railing against the untold generic masses who just can't grasp why anyone complains about being a minority. I shouldn't have blamed you for my problems with my unsympathetic peers.

Note: if my normal rants seem to be especially bad recently, it's probably because I'm suffering from a bad case of the flu. After almost a week of feeling like crap, and being unable to work, I'm now wasting all my time on the forum abusing others! :(

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


After almost a week of feeling like crap, and being unable to work, I'm now wasting all my time on the forum abusing others! :(


No sweat! After all, all this is more a forum of entertainment thru affiliation rather than illumination (yes!!) So your basic need is to consume quantities of fatty dead fowl soup; drink gallons of hot tea laced with lemon, honey & Old Overshoes XXX Whiskey; and otherwise get well! Then we can get back to our normal "fractious" repartee (tee hee hee).

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@graybyrd

Old Overshoes XXX Whiskey


Yeash, at least point him at something decent, like Jack Daniel's.

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@Dominions Son

Yeash, at least point him at something decent, like Jack Daniel's.


No, NO! Jack Daniels "Black Label" is for AFTER the recovery. When he's all stuffed up, his mouth tasting like an elephant dumped in it, and his nose is running rivers, is NOT the time for expensive booze. Old Overshoes XXX Whiskey is the trick, and the headache after can't be told from the flu headache during.

Don't waste good whiskey on the near-dead! Save it for the recovery, or the wake.

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