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a gender rant... December 04, 2004 1:57 PM

here's a problem i have with the way people around me use language. of course there's the issue of 'mail man' 'police man' 'congress man' which seems to be changing on a media level but, not so much in personal conversations. then, there's male adult humans who call me girl. i am 44 years old, have a 22 year old son and do NOT like being referred to as 'girl'. what i think this does to us, culturally, is raise our girl children to think of themselves as diminutive or lesser than males and it raises boys to think of women as inferior - perpetual children females. when i address my displeasure of being referred to thus with men and women, they say things like:  o, you know what i mean.  sometimes, if it's a male who calls me girl, i respond to what he said and throw 'boy' in there somewhere. it's amazing how few of them appreciate being called 'boy' and yet still don't understand why it makes a difference if they call women girls.  i want all of our children to grow up thinking they are of equal value and will have equal opportunities in the world. it seems to me that these diminutive gender specifics are detrimental to boys and girls in-so-far as shaping their world view is concerned.
any thoughts about this?

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 December 04, 2004 3:03 PM

male vs female... leading to adults vs children.

terms like boy & girl are first (to my view) mean to women being named "girl" which is usually used by men who wnat to sound viril... & it works with some females. In a very first look, it is pretty sexist, but further than this, it also brings to the point of "ME Male, stronger, ect.." & YOU female, weak, poor little baby, ect... treating the female as a child, involving that a child has less value than a grown up...
Well, at least in most languages, you have human rights... here in france, we have MEN rights!!!
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pelagus December 04, 2004 3:05 PM

exactly!  we're supposed to have equal rights here in usa but, though the lot of women in this country has improved, there is still no -real- gender equality.  phooey.

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 December 05, 2004 10:50 AM

Not Guilty!!!!!

I've never called a Woman "Girl".

Though I do think that, just like there are a great deal of little boys wandering around in 'man' suits, there are also a whole heap of little girls walking around in 'women' suits. If I turn on my TV they parade by me in droves.

One bit of physical gender communication I have, that drives me crazy, is a tendency, in certain situations, to create a 'subdueing' motion with the palms of my hands. I observe that I only do this with women and, when I catch myself, I want to take me outside and beat me up.

I first noticed it when someone did it to a woman friend of mine and I felt aggression rise. A few weeks later I saw myself doing the very self same thing!

On the subject of gender words . . . . . I suggest that 'personhole cover' or 'womanhole cover' does not have the same ring of prose as 'manhole cover'.

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 December 05, 2004 2:48 PM

heh... i agree about the manhole cover thingy. it would sound silly.  i think it unlikely that we'll dispose of -all- our gender specific words.
and i know what you mean about boys and girls running around in adult bodies. in my profession i see it more than i like. it'd be a good thing, though, if we could just assume the adult out of respect for each other and then be proven wrong later, if such is the case.

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 December 05, 2004 3:25 PM

and besides which . . . which woman, in her right mind, would want to be associated with a sewage waste inspection access?!!!

I think anyone calling me "boy" would be in line for a slap . . . . though I do enjoy being called "Junge Mann" by shop assistants in Germany . . . . . when I know I got at least 10 years on them!!!!!

Did You ever see that movie, '10,000 Black Men All Named George' ? 

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 December 05, 2004 3:48 PM

i get called 'miss' a lot by ppl i'm certain i have at least a decade on.  crazy, but i'd rather be called that than 'lady' (which is an entirely different rant altogether).
no, i haven't seen that movie. is it about george frazier?  (didn't he name all of his sons george?)

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 December 05, 2004 5:23 PM

No, it's about all the guys that used to work the 'Pullman' carriages.

Did George Frazier have 10,000 sons? Busy Boy!!!! LOL!

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 December 05, 2004 5:31 PM

not that you have that many, but you have to admit that 83 leads us all to believe -you've- been a busy boy :b
so, did the movie have anything to do with the pullman strike?  i'd be interested to watch it if it did..

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 December 06, 2004 2:21 AM

You, Celine, have a special dispensation certificate that allows moderate use of the word 'Boy' to me without risk of a slap!!!!!

Yes, the movie is about the Pullman strike . . . . . funnily enough, I never heard of it and actually saw it in the DR.

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 December 06, 2004 4:26 AM

i'm honoured and will use the word judiciously   i'm extending the dispensation to you, too.  girl is alright occasionally and from friends.  there are times i call myself girl: i'm a whisky girl, i'm a silly girl, stuff like that.  it's mostly that i don't appreciate it from strangers.  'do any of you girls have a light?' (the lighter is sitting on the table in front of me) 'there are no girls here.'   he wandered off into the darkness.  ooo, so also: i'm a bitchy girl.  :b

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 December 06, 2004 11:25 AM

Irish or Scottish (whisky) ?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Very Lively! Randomly Pt 1 December 06, 2004 3:49 PM

What about approaching the 'personhole cover' problem from what it actually means, instead of awkwardly reworking a sexist term?  'Sewer access cover' is what one of those things is.  Likewise, (irritatingly) in the all-female Denver Women's Chorus, of which we were a member for 14 years, we would hear 'we need volunteers to man the booths at the People's Fair'.  Why not 'staff'?  It means what 'man' is supposed to mean in that context, and says it better.

We've always hated 'chair', instead of 'chairman', 'chairwoman', or 'chairperson'.  'To chair' a meeting has always been the verb.  (One thing about English: you can verb almost any noun, and once verbed, people keep verbing it.)  However, if you don't know whether the person sitting in the chair is male or female, 'chairperson' is perfectly suitable.  You probably should distinguish between the person, and the furniture, don't you think?

'Flight Attendant', 'Postal Worker', 'Construction Worker', 'Actor' (the diminutive '-ess'  has got to go.  Maya Angelou is a Poet Laureate, not a 'poetess', ferchrissakes!), 'Suffragist' ('suffragette' was a male-dominated media diminutive, intended to ridicule the women's suffrage movement in the UK and later in the USA), 'Salesbeing', 'Waitron', there are any number of nonsexist alternatives to the traditional job titles! 

The only way of which we know, to get people to use these terms, is to interrupt rudely, and say things like: 'don't you mean "actor"?  Jodie Foster is a female person who acts, that makes her an "actor".  Using the word "actress" makes you sound like a sexist moron, and you wouldn't want that, would you??'  Note: this approach is not for the conflict-avoidant.  Neither are we.

Girls, girls, girls!  D'ya know where the term is used the most?  Among gay men.    Those girls really just wanna have fun!  We were adopted by some gay men friends, long before we knew we are a multiple person/s, as an honourary drag-queen, trapped in a female body -- which, in fact, our Senior Protector, Auntie, turns out to be.  Quite a lot of the men Inside are gay, and nearly all the women are bisexual.  We've spent much of our adult life in the gay/lesbian/bi/transgendered/transvestite subculture (specifically the part that does choral music).  It is interesting what twists on sexist language occur there. Even the most male-identified lesbian women do not call one another 'boys' nor 'men'.  The man/boy distinction does appear in the dominant/submissive gay male community.

But, nearly every g/l/b/t/t person we have ever met was socialised and schooled in mainstream society.  The basic sexist conceptual structures still hold.

We must start in the schools...  cont.

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 December 06, 2004 4:17 PM

beautiful thus far!  yep, i call the person who delivers my mail a mail carrier, the person who brings food to my table at a restaurant a server, etc, etc, etc.  thanks for bringing up those points

and, dolceanstar, i like singlemalt scotches and bourbon.  i'm just a big ol' fan of the water of life in general, though   how 'bout you?

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 December 06, 2004 4:23 PM

I couldn't agree with You more . . . . . and of vital inclusion into the school curriculum to make the point is . . . the chair!!!

Place the chair in the middle of the Gobi desert. Along come a nomadic group with freshly hunted rabbit . . . . they see no chair. They see firewood!!!

No word or concept for chair . . .

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 December 06, 2004 4:31 PM

I like to stand back at the end of the working day with an ice cold beer and observe what I've done. I'm rather too fond of my clarity these days to go for more.

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 December 06, 2004 4:32 PM

when I did drink whisky . . . . Tullamore Dew  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Randomly Pt 2 December 06, 2004 4:39 PM

This body happens to have been 14 years old, in 1976, when the Equal Rights Amendment (to the Constitution of the United States, which would have guaranteed equal rights to the female half of the population) was resoundingly defeated.  We electioneered loudly and shamelessly, for something which should be a foregone conclusion.

Not many years later (we still lived with the pxrxnts) the Human Rights Amendment was proposed.  This would have guaranteed equal protection for foeti, as for grown men, under the United States' Constitution.  That means a female foetus, would have had all the rights and protections of any white, heterosexual, Protestant male, under the Constitution, until she was born, at which time, she would become a second-class person.

Our all-girls' school, modelled after the classical educations offered in schools like Eton and Harrow, was militant about these matters.  (Some faculty in a quiet way, some very outspokenly, but the school as a whole was dedicated, from its foundation, to equality for girls and women.)  Unlike all the 'finishing schools for young ladies' in New York City, founded by Misses Nightingale and Bamford, Miss Chapin, Miss Spence, et al, our school was founded by one Mr Samuel Brearley, who had four daughters, and wanted them to get the same rigorous education as that available at the (much older) boys' schools.  Finding no such school for his daughters, he founded one, instead.  It took a man to give us a girls' school equal to (or better than) the boys' schools which were already there. Indeed, our 'brother-school' (and ex-brxthxr's school) was founded by the Dutch, in 1624 (±5 yrs).  The Brearley School was founded in the 1890s.  For those of you overseas (bar Australia) that may not seem like a long time.  For the USA, it is. , Sam.

< digression > In the EU/UK/Old World, 100 miles (160 km) is a long distance.  In the USA/Canada/Australia/New World, 200 years is a long time. < /digression >

Insofar as this body is concerned, we have not been a 'girl' since our first (unwilling) pgcy (by the body's fxthxr), when the body was 10.  If you really want to know, find our postings in this never-ending, troll-ridden thread.

Little old ladies, such as our sig. o's 88 year old Mum, are allowed to call this 43 year old body a 'girl', because she says 'we girls can talk about it' including herself.  A woman, we would try to educate.  A man who called us 'girl' might get a taste of our old field-combat training.  We've found men don't notice being addressed as 'boy', unless they are African-American, in which case, we would never...  Healthy sense of self-preservation and all.

This raises the issue of In-Group and Out-Group speech.


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 December 06, 2004 5:30 PM

Place the chair in the middle of the Gobi desert. Along come a nomadic group with freshly hunted rabbit . . . . they see no chair. They see firewood!!!

No word or concept for chair . . .

  for that bloody brilliant point!  Nice to know another Scouser, btw!  Our best mate/s are one[sic].

In-Group and Out-Group is sociology, which was one of our uni majors (the other was religious studies).

Take Scousers, for example.  (For those who don't know, that's people from Liverpool, Merseyside, UK -- but the word is derived from Danish, or one of the Scandinavian languages).  Scouse is not just a 'dialect', it's a whole way of thinking; it's a form of self-identification; it sets Scousers apart from other Northern, Industrial Britons -- both with pride, and from the side of the rest of Britain, with disdain.  New Yorkers (and with our international history, N'Yawk is the only place we ever really felt was 'home') are much the same way, and it's great to have Liverpool as our Sister City.

We, who have been exposed to Scouse culture, ways of thinking, know the attitude of the rest of Britain toward Scousers: if your car is stolen in London, doubtless it was by a Scouser, because everyone knows they're a pack of lying, thieving riff-raff, who (to paraphrase that piece of shxte, 'The Sun' -- a filthy non-newspaper and slanging opportunity, brought to you by Rupert Murdoch) disrupt football matches and eat their dead.  We'd know better, not being a Scouser (maybe almost an honourary one, but when people really get going in rapid-fire Scouse, we only follow one word in three...) than to EVER doubt the character of a Scouser, without another Scouser, who knows the first one personally, there to back us up. 

Of course, some Scousers, just like some N'Yawkas, are bad juju.

We can say it about N'Yawkas.  We've spent nearly 40 years hearing New York City put down and called 'Jew York' and any number of things.  G-d help the Jerseyite (life-form from New Jersey) badmouths N'Yawk in our hearing.  G-d help the idiot from Manchester who shoots its mouth off, about Scousers (in our hearing, too).  That doesn't mean we can't, don't, and won't criticise our own

Just don't YOU do it, axxehole.  Especially if you're from Joisey.

(BTW, we use British Standard Spelling by choice, because that is what we originally learnt to write.  Both pxrxnts were naturalised British, this body was born in Reading, Berkshire, but those of us who are British-English speaking use BBC  English, because we hate the Ugly Half-Sister -- and family -- who still lives in Reading.)  Feel free to have goes at Berkshire!

We can all criticise our OWN.  In-Group.


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 December 07, 2004 10:50 AM

Leilah . . . . . . I am astonished that You are so presumptuous as to think I am a 'Scouser'!

But then maybe that makes me presumptuous in assuming that You are not the type of person to presume!!!!

I am a Cockney. Though I haven't lived in London for many years and only returned to the UK at the end of last year after a long absence.

It's been a pattern of seven year itches with 7 years in Eire, 7 in Asia/Australia, 7 in Germany (how the heck?) and 7 in the Caribbean.

Liverpool (capital of cultureshock!!!) is relatively new and, whilst having a soft spot for straight talking scallywags, I still have trouble understanding a word they say.

Brer Rabbit in dialect, the poetry of Jean 'Binta' Breeze . . . no problem. Thick 'Scouse' may as well be Martian!!!!

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 December 08, 2004 2:11 PM

Couldn't sleep last night for visions of that damned deserted chair!!!!

It got, amongst other things, to be a sunshade, a set of walking sticks for 2 Masai and 6 Pygmy (work that one out!!!!) and, with rabbit skin balled up tight, a compendium of games including cricket, baseball, rounders and ?????

Any other suggestions?

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the chair December 08, 2004 5:28 PM

a percussion instrument in a celebration of the discovery of a new water hole...

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 December 08, 2004 5:37 PM

dolce, thanks heaps.  your post about the chair inspired me to look up the gobi desert in the encyclopaedia 'cause i wanted to know what kind of food woudl be served on chair platter. i just learned a lot

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 December 09, 2004 2:30 AM

no wonder I missed You last night . . . . . You took the signpost to the Gobi !!!!  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Digression, Dolceanstar!! December 17, 2004 6:56 PM



That would be why your profile says 'Liverpool, Merseyside, UK'.

Daft of us not to have worked that out for ourself, considering our profile says 'Westminster, CO, USA', though we're originally from Reading, Berks, UK, but speak what our token Cockney, 'Arry, calls "'orrible Standid Ah bleedin' Pee'. (That goes for nearly all of us who use British English.  The US language is mostly dialects of N'Yawka, with the occasional very random Texan, or Iowan)

'Arry's missus is named Hannah.  He worships  the water she walks upon, but unfailingly calls her 'Anner -- she must like  him anyway, because she puts up with him -- and she IS a Scouser. (He's my nephew, and everyone takes the piss out 'Arry, because he's terminally able...  But he will insist on being Cockney.  And yes, quate.  I am afraid the rest of us are just a shade coloured with BBC Standard, off being frightfully  RSP.  Call it a different form of rebellion, if you will: both pxrxnts were naturalised, and though their English -- particularly hers, as Raj schools were good -- was excellent, 'perfect' English, by the standards of academe, which was the superficial fxmxly milieu, was not something either of them could accomplish.)

'Arry's a result of the first film we ever saw in a cinema (in Singapore, as it happens), when the body was about two.  The film was 'My Fair Lady', and 'Arry's always been temperamentally inclined to side with the oppressed (on a macro, and micro scale -- don't get him started on politics!) 

Well, we were the oppressed, but we certainly were in no way able to say so.  So 'Arry became Cockney, after we saw that film, as his Internal way of hexpressin' it.

Anyhow, Dolceanstar, nicetameetcha (as they will say in New York... ) for the Cockney you are.   Perhaps you should adjust your Profile to read 'Cockney, who has currently misplaced himself in Liverpool, Merseyside, UK' and update it when the next seven-year-cycle moves you to Nairobi, Kenya or Samarkand, Uzbekistan, or Tulsa, OK, USA?

The REAL reason for this digression is:


Louisa Thwaite
Internal: Higher Education: Languages & Linguistics, English and French Literature (Medævak through Contemporary),
Genetics and General Medicine and Surgery, GuyzMedical.

External: Former translator, linguistics and dialect coach for theatre, choirs, terrorist and commando operations.

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 December 18, 2004 5:12 PM

Oi fink Yaw terminerlee luverball Leilah!!!!

Und fank Yew kindlee fer me berfday wishiz.

Oaklerhomer??? Oi downt fink sew!!!

Tache me lumbago to Tobago wen oi retyre . . . . . . . . Innit!!!!

No wot oi meen?

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 December 18, 2004 11:45 PM

Oh, shame on you! You blew a perfectly good opportunity to say "know wot I mean Arry!" And now, with visions of ex-boxers dressed as panto dames running round our head.... it's time to sleep Fuzzy Symphony  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
there You are!!!!! December 19, 2004 3:39 AM

Silver from Sliverpool! Top of the mornin' to You!!!!!!

You are absolutely right, "Know wot I mean Arry?" would have held up fabulously. My attempt at beautifying the natural London dialect has fallen down miserably. But then, even the famed rhyming slang doesn't do much for it. In truth it is named 'cockney' because it is a cock up of a dialect. Compare it say, to the gorgeous simplicity of the Caribbean . . . .

sometime is jus a


touch yuh pon yuh forehead

or a bees buzz a answer

pass yuh yeas

sometime a passin

breat of air

kiss yuh pon yuh troat


one raindrop

baptise yuh

in de Lawd

but whatever it is

a likkle shady from a tree

dat cool yuh

in de heat

a passin smile

from a pretty gal

dat mek yuh know

yuh sweet

a wonderful idea

an yuh know seh

a you dweet

or jus de flavour of de food

someone give yuh to eat


love is like rain

come all de time for free

so when trial start an

hard time come

jus pause a while to see

tek a moment

tell yuhself

someone is loving me

I rest my case . . . . enjoy your day!!!

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Minimal pairs December 19, 2004 11:53 AM

For those of you familar with antiquated ESL teaching approaches, such as minimal pairs,...

...Listen twice then repeat: /sheep/, /ship/, /sheep/, /ship/... etc.,

you will perhaps further appreciate my dilemma. I've been internally debating about posting to the Care2 Feedback and Suggestions group regarding one of the web domain names that C2 offers, and I use... the problem lies with the the homophonic (not to be confused with homophobic) of having to spell out the  domain name everytime I speak it!  I know I should be used to this as my last name is Fisher NO "C"...  but versus  ?

Perhaps I should just change my surname to something less ambigious like, Nutcase? Though I'd try some backchat from this thread first.

P.S. That manhole discussion earlier in the thread was a real turn on, LOL

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 December 19, 2004 12:16 PM

Owen . . . . . . have I told You lately?

You are wonderful!!!!!!

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Chair conundrum December 19, 2004 1:08 PM

The term "chair" seems too metaphysical, indeed having an animist quality...

While "chairperson" is one of those germanic type compuond nouns... again very metaphysical...

"throne" is out because it is a homophone. And "potty" a tad dispective, and scatalogical. "your holiness" pushes all the wrong buttons with this atheist. 

Perhaps a reintruduction of declentions... How would it decline? I mean a Lazy-boy versus a chaise longue are different recliners after all! Would these distinctions take both nominative case and/or ablative case? Golly, there's nothing better than sexist Latin to complicate gender issues when it comes to English. And those people at Cambridge will have a whole new line of textbooks to say nothing of rewrites of First Certificate and Proficiency exams to hawk! Too bad we don't have an official language academie.  Take it from a pro (word "man" avoided here); there's nothing like top down disipline!

Time for a cupa and a sarny, la. (going colo[u]rs)


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young women who call themselves 'girls' December 22, 2004 9:11 PM

I work with college students, most of them women between the ages of 18 and 22. Most of them call themselves "girls." (When I was in college, most women I knew left behind 'girl' by the middle of the first year.) Any ideas on how to convince them that this is not 1) accurate and 2) in their best interest? I insist that the students not refer to me as one of the "girls"; I am 39 years old and haven't called myself a girl for the past 21 years. I'm also not thrilled about people I don't know calling me "Hon" or "Dear" or some such. A few times I've responded to the person with the same term. Example: "How are you today, Hon?" "Just fine, Hon." Maybe if I responded with "Sweetie Pie" they'd get the point... ~Rebecca  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
anonymous Ahh the nomenclature of sentient beings... August 17, 2005 9:05 PM

This is a good discussion, I'm glad to get in on it... however late in the game. Two thoughts...

Sometimes, a sales person will identify a woman as miss because they feel it is proper to make a woman feel "youthful" while they are shopping for clothes... I wouldn't take that one too personal.

Secondly, our group host was clever to bring gay and lesbian

subcultural terminology into this discussion but what about the reverse of that? How many times have I heard people say "That's sooooooo gay." when referring to something they find boring, ridiculous, or silly?

When you confront a 'gay-sayer' with your concerns of subliminal homophobia, they usually give you the mind-numbing explanation you asked for... "well, it would sound really gay to go around saying 'That's so straight'..."    

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hi jarett August 18, 2005 9:40 AM

actually, interesting point you're bringing here. But one good example is the insults package... check it out, then you notice that 99.999% are sexist, speciesist, racist or homophobe! Even in sayings, that is about the same. Always this image of domination of a sex on the other, a race over another, ect... Our language is based on this, our minds are stuck in the idea it is NORMAL! Without trying to find out about "normality"

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More rants October 17, 2005 4:53 PM

I once worked as a supervisor at a university library. Middle management, nothing fabulous. A man came in one day, middle aged, and proceeded to put his hand on my shoulder and call me "dear". I told him if he did'nt take his hand off me I'd call it harrassment. I was actually more offended by the "dear" than by the hand (well, almost). It's a put down when a man does that to a woman, at least it is to me. What do the guys think?

That's my rant.

Namaste, ND

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exhuberant professoral attitude! October 18, 2005 7:38 AM

indeed nancy, i second that!
This hand is nothing more than that of the master caressing his pet
This attitude is actually both putting the human down, but also non humans in general
Just another attitude rooted in the strength & importance of the MALE grrr!!
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anonymous  November 16, 2006 4:48 PM

I agree, It's an automatic instinct of mine to brush away any stranger's hand which lands near my face or head. Some people think they're  friendly when they do it.,but family are the only ones allowed.   Also,even though I have some speech things I am still improving on, It's a little irritateing when some people habitually mutter,"um, well you know,um..,um, um,"

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 September 11, 2007 7:39 PM

No, you simply cannot have our Manhole cover.  Now that just would not be right.  LOL

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Inclusive Language -- Reshaping How We Think in Words
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