What gender specific descriptors remain/will remain?

Yeah, I’ve long since stopped asking, “When is the happy date?”, when someone tells me of their “fiancee of 20 years.” :wink:

Of course, I think my own kid and her cohabitant refer to each other as engaged. Not sure they have any intention of getting married at any specific time. Pretty sure they gave each other power of atty, named each other as beneficiaries, etc.

In contrast, my wife and I were married well under a year after our first date! :wink:

Hmm. I am a woman and refer to myself as a host.

I’d sooner believe that’s the last place gender will still survive in English. Engineers just can’t be taken seriously when talking about innies and outies. So “Male” and “Female” will persist.

I was thinking in terms of the person who greets you at a restaurant – “go see the hostess for a table.” But, even at home, it’s usually my wife that gets the toast, with “here’s to the hostess with the mostest.”

I host events (like a weekend four a bunch of people) and definitely think of myself as a “host”. Same if we throw a party.


So, if I went to dinner at Tony Esposito’s house, and Tony’s dad and boy were there, would I be in the presence of the father, son, and the goalie host?

Maybe gender specific derogatory terms, such as bitch will unfortunately stay around, but should be the first to go. They aren’t only insulting the person, but the gender as well.


Firefighter or police officer seems to flow well and I don’t have a problem with those and most gender neutral words.

Actor for both males and females would be fine too, except the suggestion that we could still have a female actor and male actor categories is bothersome to me. “Female actor” and “Male Actor” seem just as gendered as Actress/Actor. Kinda defeats the purpose of using the gender neutral “Actor” if you the identify which gender the person is.

The issue is not exactly a matter of identifying which gender a person is - there’s also the issue of female-specific titles often meaning something different that the “male” title. Sometimes it’s a big difference , like the difference between “governor” and “governess”. Sometimes it’s not so much the actual meanings that are different as the associations that come along with the word - “waitress” brings to mind a coffee shop/diner rather than an expensive restaurant and “priestess” doesn’t bring to mind a woman who was ordained in the Episcopal church.

To at least some people, “actress” has associations that don’t apply to “actor” in terms of the roles played. There are lots of roles that could be played either by a male or female* - but there are also plenty that could only be played by a woman ( like the Lifetime " Woman in Jeopardy" movies) and some associate “actress” with those roles.

  • By which I mean the character doesn’t need to be either male or female. Some characters have to be one or the other - a male secretary in a movie set in the 70s wouldn’t make sense , and of course some characters are based on real people, but for lots of characters, it doesn’t really matter if the lawyer/cab driver/person behind the counter in the coffeeshop is male or female.

According to the OED, before “waiter” became popular in the middle of the 17th century, the previous term was “drawer” (as in one who draws liquor for customers).

They seem so now.

I recall when they were first being proposed in the 1970s. They were awkward and stilted. They were longer to write and more syllables to say. They were seen as clunky contrived euphemisms. And at a time 98% of police and fire workers were male, the terms were seen as a ridiculous overreaction to a tiny minority of female workers destined to never grow beyond a small (<10%?) minority.

I am not suggesting that these terms are wrong or bad now, or were misguided then. I’m just relating how the transition felt at the time as it was first coming out of the starting gate. Lots of eye-rolling was done.

I associate the term “hostess” more with restaurants. It’s the person who greets you when you come in. I actually didn’t know the word for a male in that position, but looking it up, it is indeed apparently “host.”

I also think of the term “hostess” as one of the various euphemisms for prostitute.

Back in the 1950s & 60s most airlines titled their cabin staff “stewardess” and, rarely, “steward”.

But TWA chose to call theirs “hostess” and, again rarely, “host”. As the 60s wore on and the ranks of the “hosts” slowly increased some unknown wag gave them a new unofficial title: “ball bearing hostess”. The 1960s were not like now.

I associate it with Twinkies.

NB on the other hand, if a woman (or man) works for the railroad, she may still be a fireman:

Where exactly the Hostess Ho-Ho’s fit in this taxonomy is a bit of a mystery. :wink:

It means that Santa Lost a Ho.

I would think most of the names for male and female animals will stay. Hen and rooster. Ram and ewe. Mare and stallion.

Stag and hind. Boar and sow. Jackass and jenny. In some species the name of the male is different, while the name of the female is also the generic name. Bull and cow, drake and duck, gander and goose, tercel and falcon.