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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

On word choice, or, witness the power of Twitter

I'm on Twitter now, tweeting mostly chemistry-related stuff with occasional bit of randomness and feminism thrown in for good measure.  Mostly I'm just lurking and using it to find things to read.  You can find me at @CrankyOldBiddy if you're so inclined.
Anyway, today I happened to read a tweet about an article in the MIT Technology Review.  The post was an interesting article about how workers' performance is increasingly quantified.  However, it was titled "The Measured Working Man".  Um, WTF?!?!  Nothing in the article was sexist, but then they had to go and give it an old fogey sexist title that would've been out of date in the 70's  So I tweeted right back that I am an alumna and loyal reader and I thought their title was sexist.  The editor responded that "Working man" is a "historical phrase" and that "working person" would not have the same impact.  I was busy and didn't respond, but someone else chimed in that there was no need to use an outdated sexist phrase for historical reasons when "worker" would get their point across just as well.  Lo and behold, the editor changed it online and in the upcoming print edition and apologized. 
I am a stickler about policing sexist language, partially because I am now extremely sensitized to microaggressions and "othering".  I realize that, in the grand scheme of things, it's pretty low priority.  However, it's also one of the easiest things to change, as this twitter exchange illustrates, and as time goes by the offending phrases become quaint and out of date.  So why not take baby steps whenever possible, so we can all focus on bigger and better things?

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