Tomboy is a sexist term, and other language news

Shameless has beaten me to this one. But I was reading a supplement to the New York Times the other day, and came across an interesting letter objecting to the use of the term “tomboy” as sexist (in an article in a previous issue). I am inclined to agree.

Indeed, this is the flip side of what I was trying to get at when I wrote about my return to ballet classes last year.

As Shameless points out:

It’s a point of pride for femme-y celebrities like Charlize Theron and Keira Knightley to claim they are really “tomboys” at heart. There seems to be a certain amount of street cred that comes with likening oneself to a guy. It has a grounding force to it.

Meanwhile, Hoyden About Town links to an interesting project to post excerpts of Creative Commons novels with the gender of the main character reversed. The exercise is tried out for the first time on a Cory Doctorow dystopian story about Google, to interesting effect.

The idea behind this is to help provide an understanding of gender construction in fiction and to an extent in everyday life. It is also expected to have the added benefit of increasing the stories available with female protagonists and background characters.

And finally, as we’re talking about language, see also Melissa at Shakesville on the annoying use of the word ‘females’ as a noun.

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