If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of June!

June 6 Maggie Toussaint, Confound It

June 13 Nicole J. Burton, Swimming Up the Sun

June 20 Julie Mulhern, Shadow Dancing

June 27 Abby L. Vandiver, Debut author, Secrets, Lies, & Crawfish Pies

Our June Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 6/2--Joanne Guidoccio, 6/9 Julie Mulhern, 6/16--Margaret S. Hamilton, 6/23--Kait Carson, and 6/30--Edith Maxwell.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Sexist Langage

Sexist Language

As Ramona DeFelice Long posted on Facebook on 5/26/11, the word “slut” has no place in politics. People responded with the observation that there is no equivalent word for “slut” for males in everyday language in English. “Whoremonger” is no longer used. “Skirt-chaser” and "Lecher" seem weak by comparison and “hound dog” is a euphemism. "Don Juan", "Casanova" and "Lothario" have literary romantic, almost heroic overtones. “Womanizer” seems to me to link wrongdoing with the word base woman. Have you ever heard the word “manizer?” I have known men to refer to themselves as sluts with the meaning generally associated with that word, but only on rare occasions and probably because there is no obvious alternative word.

Sexism is deeply ingrained in our language and in common usage. So deeply that it is hard to avoid. Someone might “master” a skill with all the gender and slavery related implications of that word. Does anyone mistress a skill? Are children ever told to, “Take it like a woman?”

Do leaders encourage their followers to, “Woman up?”

One of Ramona’s responders commented in essence: There is no male equivalent for “bitch.” “Son of a bitch” puts the onus back on women. So does “bastard” by implication.

I read an article on the top of Want Ads section of my local paper that reported a study comparing letters of recommendation for men and for women. Regardless of the gender of the writer, women were more likely to be praised for their “leadership potential.” Men were more likely to be praised for their “leadership.”

I also read an article not long ago about a woman on the board of directors of a major corporation. The article was a complimentary brief biography. Toward the end it mentioned that after her picture appeared in a newsletter to shareholders, (along with a picture of every other board member) she got a letter from a stranger proposing marriage. I wondered about the agenda of the reporter. Was that supposed to be funny? If any of the male directors had received such a letter would that have been mentioned? Why mention it at all?

I don’t remember the gender of the reporter but my perception is that some members of both genders use sexist language when referring to women

So how should we deal with sexist language?


E. B. Davis said...

That ad blew me away. If you fit my categories, than respond to this ad. I wonder if anyone responded positively to it. Many sarcastic replies come to mind.

The language of the Bible turns me off. I know that I have to put it into the context of the times, but all religions are sexist. It's a problem that I haven't solved.

Pauline Alldred said...

Wow, I'm amazed that such ads are run today. Clearly there are those who gain from putting women down all the time and the winners in the sexist battles don't want to give up their winning positions. As writers we need to work to keep sexist stereotypes out of our writing. I've known several men who couldn't be described as brave and strong. Such characters need to show up in novels, even if there's a strong woman in the story.

Warren Bull said...

EB, That ad was amazing. I wondered who responded to it and how. Some translations of the Bible are more sexist than others. Some of the most popular are the most sexist.

Warren Bull said...

Pauline, The ad was only a few years old. Clearly some people don't want to change male privilege. I think we can avoid stereotypes in our writing.

Stephen L. Brayton said...

Sexism and racism have always existed and will always exist. What is accepted yesterday is not accepted today. Very good post, though. Thanks. It reminded me of an old radio show I listened to where the bad guys had the heroes (male and female) in a precarious position. One of the bad guys wanted to know what the boss wanted to do with the 'skirt.' He wanted to shoot the 'skirt.' I had to laugh at the use of the language. I think the heroine would knock the bad guy on his butt today if he called her a skirt.

Alice Duncan said...

Wowzers, that ad is really...I don't know. Depressing is the first word that pops to mind. It reminded me of a book I listened to recently: THE PSYCHOPATH TEST, by Jon Ronson. I think that guy has some major problems.

TeenzBeenz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Warren Bull said...

Stephen, I don't know if we will ever free ourselves of sexual and racist slurs. I agree that standards change over time and the words used become less blantant.

Warren Bull said...

Alice and Teenz, It is depressing that some men still operation in such a way.

TeenzBeenz said...

Thank you for this column.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

When I worked with legal pension documents, most of them were written in the male gender and included a catchall phrase that went something like: "the masculine includes the feminine and the singular includes the plural."

Then there was the pension plan for the Visiting Nurse Association of New York, which was written in the feminine and included the phrase: "the feminine shall include the masculine, etc."

While not an exact equivalent of slut, the derogatory word "cad" still seems to apply to males only, but that may change.

I must admit I never thought bastard was a cut on the individual's mother, but more on the father who had indeed "fathered" a child out of wedlock. However, that does go to the larger point that even though Warren and I have different implied meanings for the word, we each are focusing on only one of the parents.

I do, however, see some light at the end of the tunnel. With the McDonalization of the world, language is also losing its clear distinctions, not only in accent but word meaning.

Pulling the teeth from a word's bite by co-opting it has a long tradition.

Women call each other "guys" and much to my amusement, sometimes even "pricks." Men refer to each other as "whores" when they sell themselves (or their principles) for money.

For a year I gladly answered to the "Queen of Rejections" when I "won" the Sisters in Crime, Guppy Chapter annual contest for most query rejections during the contest period.

It will be interesting to see how word meanings change in the next 100 years. Will my preferred (and oft rejected by editors) use of "their" instead of "him or her" be the standard or will a new word be in use or will "guy" have lost all its maleness?

Language is probably both an early indicator of change and a lagging indicator of change. As writers we can't do anything about the lagging part, but the early indicators are right up our alley.

~ Jim

Warren Bull said...


Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I had not thought about cad. Lecher was the best I could come up with. I believe writers can avoid stereotypes and advance non-Sexist language.

Polly said...

Excellent observations, Warren. I have a couple of points to add. I had a book rejected by a mainstream editor because she thought it was sexist and written to appeal to men. I asked friends who'd read it, and none thought that. To this day, I don't know what is sexist about that book. It's out to a publisher now, and I can't wait to hear what the comments are. So different memes affect different people in different ways due to their cultural backgrounds or societal influences.

My alter ego writes erotic romances, and in doing research I found things I had no knowledge of concerning that genre. The guy in the ad you posted is looking for a submissive. And let me tell you, from my research, there are women who are eager to fill that role. I don't understand it, will not write it (unless it's an equal opportunity scenario--what's good for the goose is good for the gander kind of thing), and find it demeaning. But there is a culture out there that embraces that kind of behavior and women who have low enough self-esteem to put up with it. Sad but true.

Words come into popular parlance because they're used repeatedly until they lose their shock value. The best way to stop that is not to use the word or to call out people when they do, as Ramona did. The journalist who used it called himself out, which was commendable. But he never should have uttered the word in the first place.

Warren Bull said...

Thank you, Polly,
You're right. Our individual experiences, backgrounds and frames of reference mean that we interpret words uniquely. I once described a church congregation as undergoing changes in its ethnic and economic makeup. An editor perceived that as a racist statement. I agree we have to challenge the use of sexist language when it occurs.

Donnell said...

Warren, what an interesting post, and that ad, I won't even dignify it with a comment. Sexism, racism and the like will likely exist as long as people are different races and sexes. Since I don't see them assimilating anytime soon, we will always see people with open minds, and those who are afraid and therefore bigoted.

One thing that is important to note, is that a journalist is supposed to be objective, they are not supposed to editorialize.

As writers, our characters may very likely hold sexist or racial attitudes. It's what establishes character.

My husband and I watched Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino tonight, I admit to wincing several times at his racial slurs and jabs. I think that's what makes him so heroic when he becomes the Asian neighbor's hero -- both Eastwood and the Asian family learn a form of tolerance. It was painful, I admit, but showed huge character growth.

Warren Bull said...

Thanks, Donnell,

I'm grateful for so many thoughtful responses to this blog. You are correct that we as authors have the opportunity to show growth and redemption for characters who overcome their us versus them thinking. The change in thinking of Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain to mention only two gives me hope for people today.

Anonymous said...

A very thought-provoking post, Warren. Some part of my psyche doesn't mind the "sexism" language of "man up" or "master of [insert skill]", but I've also been using "s/he" rather than "he/she" for several years. So, there's some part of me that would like to see it changed.

I think that we're still on the reverse swing of the pendulum from when women were revered in pagan cultures. When the big push for Christianity & such came about, the reverence stopped. It will swing to favor females again (though, probably not in my lifetime), but I'd really like it when equality will truly come to pass. When we can all respect & revere the strengths in each gender.