What's in your pocket?

[quote=“Apreche, post:20, topic:496, full:true”]
I don’t use the word purse. I only ever say bag.

Well, that’s not true. I also enjoy the word “sack.”
[/quote]The utility found in and people’s problems being solved by the contents of Gibbsy’s magic sack was a running joke in the local theatre world for quite a few years.

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This kinda bothers me. The word purse describes a few types of bags. It isn’t inherently feminine, and even if it was, that isn’t a bad thing. The fact that the word has long been associated with women more than men in no way makes it bad or harmful. “Briefcase” was long associated with men, but women don’t avoid using one or saying the word. Things/words that have long been considered masculine are not by default non-gendered/gender neutral, and what has long been considered feminine should not be excluded from becoming non-gendered/gender neutral. If you take a moment to think about it, avoiding using a word because it has been associated with being feminine is pretty sexist.


I thought about mroe it and I actually realized I don’t avoid using it entirely. I’ll use it when there is a coin purse, which is a distinctly different object. Purse also has other definitions, like the prize for winning a fight.

A briefcase is also a distinctly unique object. It’s not a case where the same category of object changes nouns based on who is using it, or who it is being marketed at.

A bag is a bag. I don’t want to use two different names for two things that are the same. I guess I could also call every bag a purse. That separates a bag a person uses to carry their personal belongings on a daily basis from say, grocery bags.

The same thing happens with action figure, doll, vinyl collectible, etc… They’re all the same object. I usually just call all of these things “toys” but maybe I’ll call all of them dolls from now on.

This kind of thinking, while I can’t find not flaw in it, per se, makes me a bit uncomfortable. Maybe that’s for the best and I’m the one who requires changing but while I’m in my current mental head-space let me explain my position.

Saying that I can be considered sexist or really anything-ist/anything-phobic by not taking a certain action kinda hits me in a slippery-slope sort of place. Why stop at not referring to a bag by a certain term? I give money to activist organizations but it’s x-ist or x-phobic that I don’t give more. I call representatives but it’s x-ist or x-phobic that I don’t call more often.

So yeah, that’s the core. Why is it sexist that I prefer to refer to the aforementioned item as a bag, but not sexist that I don’t call my congressman more often to advocate for getting rid of systemic sexism?

In general, I try to do the right thing. But is it sexist that I don’t want to do the right thing in this instance? I’ll try and change my thinking, but must I change my vernacular?

purse. noun
Oxford: A small pouch of leather or plastic used for carrying money, typically by a woman.
Cambridge: a bag, often with a handle or a strap going over the shoulder, used esp. by women[…]
Merriam-Webster (farther down): a usually leather or cloth bag used by women for carrying money and personal things
Dictionary.com: a woman’s handbag or pocketbook.

It’s kind of feminine.

The real question though, is whether Apreche says “bahg” or “bayg”.

I say bag the same way I say drag, rag, sag, or mag.

@Starfox The point is that in the evolution of society, language, and thought toward non-binary/non-gendered/gender neutral, something previously being associated with women should no more make an item, word, name, or concept less acceptable for all gendered use/eventual gender neutral use than an item, word, name, or concept that was once typically/previously associated with men.

@Naoza I simply can’t follow your post. I don’t understand what you are getting at. From what little I can understand of it, it seems that you are more concerned with being labeled as a sexist than with considering gendered language and how it informs/imposes gender norms. Beyond that, I just don’t understand what you are trying to say. Let me clarify that I didn’t call anyone sexist. I pointed out that avoiding a word specifically because it has feminine associations is sexist. If the avoidance of the term is for precision of language or inclusion of a greater group of items, then that isn’t sexist - that is simply clear communication. I went further to state that we often treat the traditionally masculine as the gender neutral thanks partially to linguistic roots but also because many societies and cultures make the traditionally masculine point of view the default.

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It seems you had the gist of it. I was/am very concerned with being labeled as a sexist.

Language being used as a weapon to perpetuate social norms that harm certain communities is nothing new. A fictional society called The Culture gets around this by using a synthetic language designed specifically not to do this.

I’d love to live in a society where we do something similar. But we don’t live in such a society. We live in this society:

If you’re more concerned with being labeled sexist than with actually being sexist, maybe you should stop thinking about you in this situation and start thinking about others. I am not certain what to say other than that.

I am aware of The Culture Series.

Society is what we collectively make it. If you don’t like something, change it and speak out against it - as I am doing right now. Saying “our society is imperfect and that is just how it is” doesn’t help you or anyone else.

This conversation should continue in the Toxic Masculinity thread, if you want to continue it.