I pit "men and women"

As best I can tell, the phrase originated from military references. I figure it happened this way, or something like this:

Politicians, understandably averse to pissing off anyone anywhere, had been used to talking about “our men in uniform” for a long, long time. Once women had become far more integrated into service than they had been, actually serving in theater rather than just as typists and such, there came a time when someone running for office or holding a tenuous office made some remark about “our brave young men”, whereupon a reporter retorted, “You mean men AND women, don’t you?”. And of course, the mortified politician would have quickly amended his phrasing. “Yeah, um, that’s the ticket, our brave young men AND women.”

Eventually, the phrase took on the same monotone inflection as Wepponsuvmassesruction, and became Mennenwimmen. I don’t remember the first time I heard it, but I remember that at some point I bristled, and thought to myself, ‘What the hell? Do you mean PEOPLE?’. What’s wrong with using the phrase “our brave young people in uniform”. It’s already a perfectly cromulent word. It has fewer syllables. And it hasn’t been so worn out that it spills out of the mouth like Affercuhnuhmericuhn.

In case you’re wondering what put me over the edge and made me take to the Pit this morning, it was Chris Dodd on Meet the Press. His mouth was running faster than his brain, and what came out was “our young men and American women” — except it was yungmennenuhmericuhnwemmin — followed shortly by a comment on what we are “utilizing” them for. Ack! Shut the fuck up!

And “utilize” in place of “use” is another thing. There’s no fucking reason for it. There’s no goddamn reason to replace a perfectly good one-syllable word with a three-syllable word, and there’s no goddamn reason to replace a perfectly acceptable two syllable word — people — with a whole mouthful of lazy labial lip licking. Dammit, if they’re men, call them men. If they’re women, call them women. If they’re both or either, then why can’t men and women just call them people?

“Utilize” ticks me off, too, but not as much as the use of “facilitate” instead of “help” or “aid.”

And don’t get me started on the tendency of people in law enforcement and the military to use “male” and “female” as nouns instead of “man” and “woman.”

“People” veers dangerously close to “human beings”, which would make them the same creature they’re supposed to murder.

“Man” connotes camouflage, guns, muscle.

I think it’s a cadence thing, that’s all. ‘People’ doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Same goes for ‘the American people’. Drives me nuts. ‘Americans’ is a perfectly good word that means the same thing - use it. And don’t use ‘actioned’ when you mean ‘done’ dagnab it!

Howsabout we replace ‘men and women in uniform’ with soldiers? What the hell was wrong with ‘soldiers’? (Except that I had to run this post through the spellcheck to make sure I didn’t spell it ‘soilders’.) It means ‘person engaged in millitary assault on behalf of a larger group or nation’. ‘person in uniform’ can mean a soldier, a nurse or fireman, or the Burger King Squadron, Second Shift.

Pit me the word ‘troops’ as a singular, i.e.: “4 troops missing in Dogcrapashire”. ‘Troops’ is a term used to describe a collective, like ‘congregation’ or ‘Congress’. If four soldiers are missing, say ‘four soldiers’. We would have also accepted ‘four troopers’, ‘four sailors’ or ‘four deeply fucked guys/dames’.

Hell yes! What Annie said.

Yep, that’s one of my pet peeves too.

Except Marines really hate being called soldiers.

Why not call them “people?” that’s what they call themselves. I always said “Listen up, people,” or maybe 'allright, guys," but never “Attention, Men!” I’d sound like a jackass if I did, as if I were about to start singing “Stout-hearted Men.”

It’s just journalists and politicians who traditionally use this this kind of language. One hundred years ago it was “our valiant boys in blue.” Then, as bullshit passed from the age of grandiloquence it became “men;” by the time of the Gulf War it was “men (and, uh,) women,” and today “menenwimmin.”

Annie you hit it square on. The “troops” is an undefined unit. The individual is a trooper. And to the OP, right on. enough of this “word management”. Call a spade a spade. On the bright side, my son just completed MA (Master at Arms, the Navy version of an MP) school. Thier unit included women who went throught the same training, and did the same drill step for step. Upon graduation he became “Sailor” instead of “recruit”. Guess what the women are called? “Sailor”. There is hope.

“Soldier” or “troop” sounds too military. It sounds like they might actually hurt someone.

Besides, “soldier” excludes. the Air Farce, Navy and Marines, not to mention the Coast Guard. And even some other more obscure uniforn services like US Public Health Officials.

Well, fuck; now we have to worry about the PC language police in the armed forces? NO I say, a thousand times no! [jean luc picard] "But not again, the line must be drawn here! This far, no further! " [/jlp] :smiley:


Anyway, I agree entirely with this thread, and while we’re at it, I’m not going to “reach out to you”. I mean, maybe I would if, say, you are now in a wheelchair after a horrible accident. Or maybe your house burned down. Actually, however, I’m trying to schedule a workshop with you for next month. I think I’ll just e-mail you. If I’m feeling very touchy-feely I might even pick up the phone.

Bolding mine.

This reminds me of the British comedian Alexei Sayle, who said “Anyone who uses the word ‘workshop’ who isn’t connected with light engineering is a wanker.”

I guess we all have our hot-button words.

**Zsofia:**I am truely sorry if that comment offended you or anyone else. I learned it from my grandfather, an immigrant from Hungary. He was a laborer on construction jobs, and when out of work did side jobs digging tree trunks out of peoples yards. The tools of the trade were pick-axes, and a lot of different shovels, each having a specific use. A spade was one of them. I would offer to get a shovel out of the truck for him and he would reply “Call a spade a spade!” meaning the flat shovel was not going to do much good.
I talked with my wife and she said “You posted what!!!” She informed me that I might well have said call a N-word an N-word. I assure all, the error was purely out of ignorance. I had no idea the term had a totally different meaning. The Straight Dope wins again, at least one small portion of ignorance has been erradicated.
If I might rephrase my original comment, I was trying to say “tell it like it is”

I don’t think Zsofia was being serious. I doubt she’s truly offended.


Yeah, I’m not even a Negro. :wink: Seriously, only Archie Bunker uses “spade” as an insult anymore. It’s completely obsolete IMHO.

It’s a workshop! It’s not a seminar, it’s a thing where you bring in your class and I teach them how to use the databases and other resources and then we do it together.

I was out working in the garden, and that woosh felt good going by. Trying to save a little face here…