Gender and OLPC

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There have been now and then some discussions about the use of she, he or s/he... since the argument has to do more with the style rather than the subject of the page, I moved it here.

Note: I added my signature to a comment I did, the rest is copy-paste. --Xavi 22:57, 8 February 2007 (EST)

Well, it is about style yet it is also about the quality of English used in the Bitfrost article, so it is about the subject of the page in that using the phrase a user can choose to protect her files from other people on the system, which suggests that all users are female, is factually misleading.

Sexist Article

Original discussion at Talk:Bitfrost

Author refers to user in the feminine sense (she). Why not use non-gender-specific terminology such as they and their? ~ Some user.

She is understood as s/he. 209.181.213.53 21:44, 7 February 2007 (EST)

A good way to use non-sexist language is simply to use the phrase he or she. Using he is traditional and is unfair to women, using she reads awkwardly. The German language has different words for male teacher and female teacher and so on and uses the equivalent of teachermale or teacherfemale in sentences. Reading he or she seems natural, balanced and factual. So maybe each use of she could be changed to be he or she please?
This does go rather deeper than just this particular article. As this article is an official OLPC managed page one may perhaps wonder how OLPC documentation for the children will be worded. The use of the word they as a way of referring to one person so as not to indicate gender is an unfortunate trend in English these days. It is not, however, as bad as another trend, namely using the word you to mean someone or using the word you to mean some particular organization whose responsibilities are being discussed. This produces sentences which upon analysis sound ridiculous, yet such usage happens very often in television news interviews nowadays.
I also 'dislike' the pc-emphasis on 'she'... I would prefer the explicit 's/he' which goes perfectly highlighting the gender issue, while addressing both and remaining neutral. Unlike spanish where although you could write 'el/la' (el/ella) but then has to drop neutrality in the words following—ie: el/la chico/a; el/la alumno/a; etc. --Xavi 09:00, 8 February 2007 (EST)
What about using 'one'? i.e. from a user can choose to protect her files from other people on the system to one could choose to protect one's files from other people on the system. 72.83.157.40 18:38, 2 December 2007 (EST)

The problem is that the Bitfrost article states that a user can choose to protect her files from other people on the system, which suggests that all users are female. Certainly, if there is an example of, say, how one user can set permissions so that another user can access one of his or her files, then having one of the users as male and one as female would be fine, and indeed having both users as female would be fine. So, a user can choose to protect his or her files from other people on the system would be best in that situation. There could then be an example where a female name is used. This too would be fine. It is not a matter of being offended or upset about women using computers: it is about wanting the documentation to be factually accurate in that not all computer users are female, just as not all computer users are male.

Ref: history I'm fine! No need for such formality! :) I was just stating so because there was a conflict with my edition (in between me extracting the text and moving it here, the original author had removed it).
As for the discussion per-se... I find the systematic use of 'she' just as awkward and stereotyped as the use of 'he'; and my preference goes towards 's/he'. But really, I can live with all three. :) --Xavi 10:35, 9 February 2007 (EST)

Women in the 70s

"any code the user executed, she ipso facto trusted for all practical purposes."

Since when did women use computers in the 70s? ;)

Probably more than you can imagine... including the famous first real bug discovered by Grace Hopper (who amongst other things is credited for writing the first compiler). See also Women in Computing.--Xavi 23:02, 8 February 2007 (EST)
The people who programmed ENIAC were all women.

Thompson or Ritchie, which is the "she"?

That "she" is in a context that refers to the original UNIX developers. Were they bearded ladies? I've never seen women with grey beards before, but I guess it could happen.

Come one. If "he" is somehow offensive as sexism, then "she" must be equally so. The hypocracy is getting laid on nice and thick here. There is no excuse for this. Users of "he" at least have the excuse of using Standard English. Using "she" is obviouslyly sexist, as well as being factually incorrect.

24.110.145.57 21:25, 8 February 2007 (EST)



It does look like as if the author is referring to a female when writing this document. Some of the words that are used have connotations that can be better attributed to a female, rather than male. I find it cute. Perhaps, the time has come to start treating women not just as a man’s attribute. :-)



Come on guys. The use of "they" as a singular is incorrect grammar, and "s/he" is really ugly. "She" is used as a generic pronoun, because the author of the specification decided to pick it over "he", and whether that choice was on a whim or with an agenda makes no difference. There's really no issue here. "He" is used in 90% of such cases, so let's not get bent out of shape when "she" is used in a similar context every once in a while. --Jacobolus 12:25, 9 February 2007 (EST)

Bollocks is it incorrect grammar. "They" is used as singular in common usage when referring to a non-specific person. Consider this: "You can tell when a politician is lying - their lips move." You would change this to "her lips are moving" or "his/her lips are moving"? Oh please. --82.26.185.234 15:14, 12 January 2008 (EST) (not signing up for an account just for this one comment!)



Obviously neighter "they" nor "she" is a real solution of the problem. If the authors intent was to write about software _he_ should have used the only READABLE way there is - using the male form. I t doesn't make any sense to break the readers line of thinking any second second by forcing him to start thinking about gender problems and political correctness instead of the original content of the writing. Of course it's forbidden by the mind-police ...




If we say "organism" instead of human or user then we can use the pronoun "it". Example: any code the organism executed, it ipso facto trusted for all practical purposes. I like it, it has this endearingly stilted science fiction quality to it. -Rob

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