Tuesday, July 19, 2005

STAFFING or MANNING?

Mrs. Linklater doesn't quite know how to bring this up, but she feels that some comment is necessary.  

Call it what you may, being over sensitive, a rabid feminist, a victim of post-pms stress disorder, whatever, but her sensibilities are offended by the use of the term "MANNED" to describe what happens when people are part of a group working together to make something happen.

Dictionary.com defines MANNED as:

1. To supply with men, as for defense or service: man a ship.
2. To take stations at, as to defend or operate: manned the guns.
3. To fortify or brace: manned himself for the battle ahead.

The term seems especially archaic given the number of women serving in the military these days.

So while Mrs. Linklater was thrilled to have the opportunity to be the Guest Editor this week and rectify some unwarranted oversights in the journaling community, she feels the need to correct Journals Editor Joe, ever so gently. It should be pointed out that he's not alone. But he is convenient.


"Manning the ship of the [now defunct] AOL Journals' state this week is Guest Editor, Mrs. Linklater, who I describe on the main page as 'iconoclastic.'"

Mrs. L was flattered to be described as "iconoclastic." The word fits her like a pair of tight leather pants. But she feels that "MANNING" would have been more appropriate for someone of the male persuasion, who was in fact a member of our armed forces. 

It is perhaps because women are now integrated into so many formerly male dominated jobs that attempts to use gender neutral language is practiced more rigorously. Most of the time.

Thus the term "STAFFED" or "STAFFING" has been employed to replace the clearly gender specific, but often inaccurate term, "MANNED" or "MANNING."


Mrs. Linklater, being female, would have happier if Joe had written, "Leading the ship of the AOL Journals' state" or better yet, "Staffing the Guest Editor's desk this week is Mrs. Linklater, etc."

For reference, the Dictionary.com definition for STAFFED is:

1. To provide with a staff of workers or assistants.
2. To serve on the staff of.

As politically correct language goes, STAFFED is not as awkward as chairperson for chairman. But it is just as relevant as using firefighter for fireman and mail carrier for mailman. Or police officer for policeman.

Mrs. Linklater doesn't want to whine too much about this, but using the word "MAN" to describe something a woman is doing is like a coach calling a boys' team "GIRLS" when he wants to insult them. Same diff to Mrs. L.

One final comment about gender neutral descriptors. For a long time people didn't know how to be more politically correct with waiters and waitresses.  Until they came up with SERVER.

But Mrs. L's favorite option was WATRON.  She's not alone.  Three years ago in Park City, Utah, she saw a huge sign on a soon-to-open restaurant that said, "WATRONS WANTED. APPLY INSIDE." Sadly, she did not have her camera with her to capture the moment forever.

Some things take awhile to catch on.  She thinks STAFFING instead of MANNING may not be an overnight success.  But  it could happen.

Remember that the next time a watron takes your order.

14 comments:

jeanno43 said...

I cannot but help agree with you.

http://journals.aol.co.uk/jeanno43/Family

billierwilson said...

i love this!! i work in construction and my title would be 'chainman'. some of the guys i work with have changed it, when they refer to me they call me chainchick. (land surveyor). i love my job and have so much fun doing it. i've been from the mountains to the ocean(in a boat), i've been in high rises, under buildings and Disneyland. my favorites are the elementary schools when the kids ask about what i'm doing.
http://journals.aol.com/billierwilson/sillygirl/
Billie

robbush6 said...

Bacterial infections or pro football quarterbacks? Why do you insist on making us think?

Stewardesses became Flight Attendants
Mary Kay Ladies became Consultants
Avon Ladies became Representatives
Secretaries became Executive Assistants
Ladies of the Evening became Escorts

Man the helm or steer the ship. I don't care which, as long as Joe knows we're meeting for chick flicks and manicures after. He can come along and buy the popcorn.

swmpgrly said...

superbly said!

whsprdphsh said...

If it were me, I would prefer it not be gender neutral, but rather gender specific.  Womanning.  After 6 years of being the single mother of a little girl, I would feel quite honoured to be put in a position of command and have it said that I am "womanning" the ship.  As the argument went for a long time that men are physically better put to work certain jobs, how about a reminder that women aren't just equally suited, but often bring an extra je ne sais quoi.  

So I don't know about serving or mail carrying or such, but for now I'll be womanning the helm of my household.

in much respect
e'beth

http://journals.aol.com/whsprdphsh/SaddestSong

kristeenaelise said...

Dude!  Thanks for manning the guest editor ship, man.

I'm kidding!!  

My teenaged daughter gets a huge kick out of calling me Dude!, even though I am not, nor will I ever be a dude.  

(great smartasses think alike, obviously)

muah!
=) kris

suzypwr said...

"Iconoclastic Mrs L is the guest editor this week."
Shorter, sweeter, no issues....

But he should not have called you a man. How insulting!

xoox

screaminremo303 said...

You are absolutely correct. When a woman is given the helm of responsibility, it should be referred to by the proper terminology:

Clustermistress

judithheartsong said...

ahahahahahaaaaa. OOPS he did it again...................

elsandradarkweav said...

I agree with you, but as a female police officer who gets called "sir" or "policeman" alot, I've learned to just shake my head and carry on. (Though I do wish I could give out citations for stupidity...)

belfastcowboy75 said...

"Manning" sounds like the female equivalent of "womanizing." "Staffing" sounds like bacteria. Filling? Or in your case, Overwhelming?

robbush6 said...

Cowboy, you're scaring me. Again.

jayveeconcerto said...

I'll keep my Man thoughts to myself and simply say - this was brilliantly written!

gaboatman said...

Poor, poor Joe.  He thought Mrs. L would actually like his mention of her in his blog.  I hear his treatment is going well, Mrs. L.  The doctor says he should be back to normal after only six months of therapy sessions.  I have my doubts, though.  I hear his therapist is a woman!
Sam