Re: Technology & Gendered Language

C Swift (
Sat, 30 May 1998 14:18:35 -0700

Okay, guys, you're getting a little out of hand here. The point is NOT
about changing the computer or the computer language -- the point was about
*culture* and what it makes girls think they can and can't/should and
shouldn't do. It would certainly be simpler (and more important) to teach
little girls and young women that they *can* and *do* have control ... they
can be in command ... -- they don't have to "always be polite" --
particularly to people who are rude or controlling -- and they don't have
to put up with ridicule -- often called "only teasing" to make them think
they're bad sports if they object (which I'm getting a sense of in the
messages below). The answer is to teach your daughters not to be
intimidated by what *others* think they ought to do and think and be ...
and to teach them to identify and challenge words or stereotypes or thought
patterns that restrict their vision of what they can accomplish. Then we
won't have to deal with such silliness as found below, which only serves to
redirect attention from the core problem. Both males and females should be
free to do and accomplish whatever they choose without ridicule and without
regard to what our culture identifies as "gender appropriate." We need to
start eliminating the whole concept of "gender appropriate" behavior, in my


> 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
> misnomer.
> >I am not sure what to suggest to replace "control" in the computer
> >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
> 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
> "service".
> 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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