Or blog etiquette?
My last post referred to a comment of mine on one blog, that was then made the subject of a post on another person’s blog (Tricia’s).
Just to summarise, I pointed out that police officer is a more appropriate generic term than policeman/men. In fact I didn’t even realise people still said policeman, fireman, postman etc.
A little history lesson
In olden days, many women did not work, and when they did, they didn’t work in the police force, the fire brigade or deliver mail. The people doing these jobs were—men. Hence the terminology.
And, when women did start doing these jobs, against all odds, the language clumsily pointed out they were a woman, eg a woman police constable (WPC).
WPC is no longer appropriate. (Phew, thought I had better check!)
My immediate response would be, a) why is their gender important and b) we don’t have man police constable (MPC or, as one wag said on the police forum, MCP).
And, to quote from the forum:
Ok, just imagine addressing some of your colleagues as “Black Police Constable”, “Gay Police Constable” or “Jewish Police Constable.”
Now see how inappropriate it is?
Here is the police forum.
It’s an interesting read, I only read the first page, but even in one page there are a range of opinions and ‘really funny’ comments. Assuming you find sexist jokes about making tea, looking after kids, and escort services funny.
The sensible comment above regarding, black, gay, Jewish, reinforces my point that women still face an uphill battle against discrimination compared with other minority groups. A number of commenters could not see the problem in pointing out that an officer is a woman.
Any police constable is a police officer first and foremost in their work environment. Pointing out their gender in their title is irrelevant and inappropriate and implies, by not doing the same for men, that a male police officer is the norm, and the default.
Similarly, by referring to a male nurse, one is still presupposing that nurses are normally women. In fact last year in hospital, men and women seemed pretty equally balanced, my ‘main’ nurse was male.
But by highlighting someone’s gender in a job we continue to reinforce the idea that one sex is automatically the ‘right’ one for the job, and that we expect to see them in that role. Because, by virtue of their gender, we stereotype women and men into different roles and affect their chances of being successful in gaining jobs and having successful careers in those fields.
If you don’t believe me, try reading this article on why sexist language matters. It is absolutely spot-on. Hell, it even picks up on my bugbear of ‘you guys’ and it’s written by an American. Or at least, someone who was teaching in North Carolina. It’s also more than eight years old. It’s a short and easy read.
Note. I have given two references here. One to the police forum, and another to AlterNet. This is important, and the crux of my post.
On my past post, I linked back to Tricia and InsanityBytes regarding their relevant posts about language/sexism/feminism.
As far as I am aware most of us do this when we refer to an external source that we are writing about. It gives the reader the chance to read further material and make up their mind independently. It is also being upfront that you are referring to another blog post and not tattling behind the poster’s back. Up to them whether they even choose to visit, let alone read or comment.
Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a single person who refers to another blog post, website, whether it’s a restaurant, a news article, or an academic publication, whatever, who doesn’t link back. It also takes time to do so.
Which brings me onto three very different examples.
- When I was at university, I learned to make sure I listed my source materials. They were divided into primary and secondary sources, eg Tacitus, Suetonius, Plutarch, Machiavelli, and Rousseau were primary. Text books were secondary. An essay without significant primary sources would be poorly rated.
- When I was a newspaper journalist, we used court sheets, council papers and took verbatim shorthand notes at both. When we interviewed people, we used direct quotes or put it into reported speech. Again, a story is unsubstantiated without a source.
- When I was writing board papers, I would quote and reference government documents, legislation, and peer-reviewed articles in journals.
Why would I not do the same on blog posts?
And yet, Tricia complained elsewhere that I only linked back to ‘bait’ her.
I had a similar experience over on Rough Seas blog where myself and Insanity Bytes were mentioned with much disdain on a recent post. I took the bait and made a comment which was very restrained and respectful, …
Oh and you’re not fooling anyone by saying you don’t play games. No one links to another blogger without hoping for some type of response.
Some might do. I don’t. I link back for all the reasons cited above.
Here, should you choose, are the links. 😉 Merely if you suffer from insomnia.
Tricia’s comments and my replies on Colorstorm’s
My original post, ie the last one
Tricia’s post I referenced
InsanityBytes post I referenced