I have in my hot, little paw the DVD of Season 1 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (MLP). I’ve posted before about the nonacceptance of MLP fans, even within the science fiction community [Plea]. This is a rant of a different color. I don’t consider myself a MLP Fan. That’s because I don’t qualify, not because I’d be embarrassed to be one. After all, I happily admit to being an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) eagerly anticipating two LEGO events in 2013.
If I was a MLP Fan, what would I call myself? The general term of use is the masculine term Brony (bro + pony). Female fans are Pegasisters (Pegasus + sister), at least technically. As best I can tell among MLP Fandom, the use of Pegasisters is less prevalent. Is this because the term is more awkward? No argument there. Is it because male terms tend to be inclusive (mankind) while the female terms tend to be specific (womenkind)? … and mildly degrogatory? Consider the difference in connotation between king-size and queen-sized, or between master and mistress. Could it be that “brony” gets more play because no one is uncomfortable with grown women playing with children’s toys? The infantilization of women is beyond the scope of my ranting ability. I simply devolve into froth. Until corrected by those more knowledgeable, I would chose to call myself a brony, due to the inelegance of the female term.
I spend more time wrestling with this than you might expect. At the fire department, I am militant about the usage of the term firefighter over firemen. The men of the department don’t understand, but they know to expect the fisheye from me if they slip. At one meeting we were running a practice scenario where an ambulance had to come by to pick up the firemen. To which I asked, ‘So, you’re just going to leave me sitting by the side of the road?’ Eye rolls all around.
Conversely, I don’t get my knickers in a twist about the term horseman. I’ve had people call me a good horseman and been flattered.
Horseman is pronounced closer to horsem’n, without the emphasis on horseMAN. Simplistic but it does make the term less of an irritant.
Then, there is not a good blanket term for horseman. Horseperson is awkward. Firefighter is better language than fireman. That’s what we do, we fight fires. A fireman could be the stoker of a steam engine on a locomotive. Philosophically, I would prefer a gender neutral term for horsemen (& bronies). But I’m not gonna fuss over it.
The biggest difference between the horsemen and firemen is that women are accepted in the horse world more than they are in the fire service. A few summers ago, my department made a guest appearance at a day camp. We marched in wearing turnout, looking like a like of khaki snowmen (there ya go again). We announced our names. When folks heard my dulcet soprano, I could feel the startlement and saw a few craned necks.
Yes, there are woman in the fire service. A good friend of mine is a career captain. (My newbie volunteer enthusiasm amuses her.) But coed is not the default standard, even less so down my way. Therein lies my problem with the word firemen, the attitude behind the usage. When people stop being surprised to see a woman in turnout gear, I’ll stop railing about terminology.
BTW, why is everything I do so gendered? Surrounded by women in the horse world. Surrounded by men in the fire department & at BrickFair. (With notable exceptions in all cases.) But that’s a question for another day.
What words get your rant up?
3 thoughts on “Labels: A Gender Rant”
I’ve been a weightlifter since 1981, which is to say before there were women training in hardcore gyms. So the average facility back then most resembled a state penitentiary … for MEN. In fact, the first gym I joined didn’t even have a “woman’s” locker room. (They generously provided a utility closet and a threadbare sheet to hang for a door.) I felt totally out of place, but my desire to build a strong body far outweighed my discomfort … so I stayed. Yes, a few guys expressed their discomfort at having to share their “man domain” with a woman, but honestly? The less I focused on the gender card the more they welcomed me. Soon, nobody even noticed there was a woman in their midst … including me! I’ve since discovered that the more we point out our differences (including gender) the more division we create. Is that our goal … to draw attention to our differences? I dunno. I’m sure there wasn’t one single guy in the gym who didn’t KNOW I was a woman. Duh! But under the iron we’re all just lifters, and we can, should and do rejoice in that commonality!
Girl. “I asked the girl to…”. My reply ” Really? How old was she? Child labor?” No longer in the corporate world, I don’t know if the men still say “I’ll have my girl get back to you”. If they do, I could get really rabid!
Not to mention “Babe”!!!!!!!
Mine is being addressed by my first name in professional business settings (either my office or the doctor’s office) by some bright young twit. Especially when, on the sheet they give you to complete at the doctor’s office where it asks “what do you prefer to be called?” and you indicate “Ms. Smith”, and the bright (or not-so-bright) young thing still calls me “Sue”. Fastness way in the world to get my blood pressure going ….
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