Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Language of Naming: Conundrums Abound


As I’ve been reading Hell Hath No Fury: True Stories of Women at War from Antiquity to Iraq (information overload!  pick it up and get ready to LEARN!), the question of language has arisen time and time again; specifically why we call things what they are.  Prior to reading this book, I was under the impression that words like “aviator” and “ambassador” were gender-neutral.  In fact, according to the dictionary an aviator is a pilot and an ambassador is a diplomat.  So why, oh why, did the authors keep referring to women within these pages as an “aviatrix” or an “ambassadress” (they are real words and mean a female pilot and a female ambassadress respectively)?  Why, when -man isn’t a part of the word, is it necessary to create a separate title for women doing the exact same job?  On a related note, why are “serious” actresses now demanding to be called “actors” instead of “actresses”? Continue reading


The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women

The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women by Jessica Valenti

As an avid Feministing reader, I’ve been familiar with Valenti’s work for quite a while but had never picked up one of her books until now. Her first two books, Full Frontal Feminism and He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, seemed a bit too Women’s Studies 101 for where I’m at, so I passed on reading them. But when I heard about The Purity Myth I knew I just had to read it; as a staunch anti abstinence-only advocate, I hoped I would find more substance in Valenti’s book than I found in the somewhat disappointing Virgin: An Untouched History by Hanne Blank. (I freely admit to my own research-ery snobbery–if your book doesn’t have a plethora of footnotes, I’m not going to believe your arguments.) Despite a few issues I had with the book, me and my highlighter were quite pleased.
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