Language and the Generic Masculine.

posted in: Organic Feminine Magic | 0

I’m going to develop this blog post over time, as I find more really good quotes and resources.

This is one of my favourite hobby horses: Does the term “Man” and “Mankind” include women, when talking about humanity?

Let me say up front, that I just don’t buy the argument that, of course, “mankind” means women too.  I do not feel included. And I do not feel other women to be included.  Am I the only odd one out? Am I the only one who is being pedantic and a pain in the butt?  Quietly, I don’t think so.

We have taken it for granted, since the dawn of civilization, that “mankind” meant men-kind, and the world was theirs.

This quote is taken from one of my currently-favourite books: The Androcentric Culture, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It was written in the first decade of the 1900’s. No publishing date is given on this public domain book.  It is available for free at I highly recommend it.

Moving on … It might have been in the same book, I’ll have to check. But there was a quote about how to tell the difference if the word “Man” means everyone or just men.  The distinction is, that if it refers to a position of power, then it’s a men only situation. If it is something that would fit even the lowliest man, then it would also include women. Sigh.

Really, women always need to do a rapid doubletake whenever this situation arises.  I really don’t understand how this situation can continue in modern writing. Sure they talk about grammar, and awkwardness. Better that these rules be adhered to, and continue the psychic confusion for women, than aim for real clarity about whether we’re included or not.



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