RE: Technology & Gendered Language

John Meyer (
Fri, 22 May 1998 19:24:26 -0600

At 03:06 PM 5/20/98 -0700, you wrote:
>One of the immediate replacements which is already sometimes used is
>"instruction". This gender neutral term is used interchangeably with
>the gender biased term "command". The CS departments would have no
>problem with the suggestion that they all drop "computer command" in
>favor of "computer instruction".

Okay, but there is a problem here: "computer command" implies that the
user tells the computer to do something, and the computer does it.
"Computer instruction", on the other hand, implies that you teach the
computer what to do and the computer applies your instruction. Until
computers get more intelligent, I think that "computer instruction" is a

>I am not sure what to suggest to replace "control" in the computer sense,
>however for the keyboard use of this term Apple long ago replaced the
>"control" key with a clover-leaf key on the keyboard. This is progress
>we need to point out and encourage, (and this may be part of why the
>Macintosh has a higher acceptance rate for girls).

Even with this gender equity, I do not like Macintoshes, primarily because
Macs depend too much on the mouse. The most pathetic thing that I have
ever seen is a Mac user without a mouse.
But actually, if you want to, just paint over the term control. Rename it

Another key that
>needs work is the "insert" key. This key features prominently on the PC
>keyboard. On the Apple keyboard it is a little used shift key marked in
>small letters, but it is still there. We need to suggest an alternative
>name for the gender biased "insert".
This is going to ridiculous extremes, don't you think? Are women so
fragile that they cannot deal with terms like "insert" and "control"?
While we're at it, why don't we get rid of the "home" key, since it
discriminates against men who feel uncomfortable at home?

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