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(44 Posts)
AnnabelCaramel Tue 22-Jul-08 19:43:20

Are all thespians actors these days? Is it wrong to use the word actress?

Drusilla Tue 22-Jul-08 19:44:52

I thought lots of female actors now objected to the word actress?

AnnabelCaramel Tue 22-Jul-08 19:46:52

If I was one I'd rather be an actress personally. Why would they object?

Drusilla Tue 22-Jul-08 19:55:18

Actress sounds much more glamorous!

UnquietDad Tue 22-Jul-08 23:39:53

As the bishop said to the actor.

Nope, doesn't work.

UnquietDad Tue 22-Jul-08 23:41:15

It started in the Grauniad, this nonsense.

I love it when the Oscars and Baftas come out, because it forces the tight-sphinctered PC buggers to use the word "Actress" grin grin

ExterminAitch Tue 22-Jul-08 23:42:11

a lot of newspapers have actor in their style book. actress is no longer used in most broadsheets, i think.

HumphreySmallPillow Tue 22-Jul-08 23:45:25

Personal choice.
Those who chose the Brechtian acting course insisted on being called 'actor'.
Those who did Farce preferred 'actress'.
And tended to have more matronly bosoms - although that may have been coincidence.

UnquietDad Tue 22-Jul-08 23:47:30

Ah, it's "Verfremdungseffekt"! Now I get it

youknownothingofthecrunch Tue 22-Jul-08 23:48:29

All female actors I know are actors.

Headteachers are headteachers

I have to say I approve of the general de-sexualisation (it's a word, honest) of our language.

UnquietDad Tue 22-Jul-08 23:53:42

Should they have "Best Male Actor" and "Best Female Actor" at the Oscars then?

Again, other languages don't seem so hung up on this. French still has acteur/actrice, and German just adds -in on the end for anything female. So Tom Cruise would be "ein Schauspieler" to a German, and Glenn Close "eine Schauspielerin".

AllFallDown Wed 23-Jul-08 12:00:09

It's because the female form of words is traditionally associated with lower status. So gender neutralising a whole series of words eradicates that status divide. Now, you may think people who accept that the usage of words can have unforeseen circumstances are "tight sphinctered PC buggers" — and actor/actress doesn't bother me much — but you'd just be wrong and reactionary.

UnquietDad Wed 23-Jul-08 12:03:01

If I am "wrong and reactionary" then so is most of the rest of Europe.

ExterminAitch Wed 23-Jul-08 13:21:01

you said it, UD! grin

DumbledoresGirl Wed 23-Jul-08 13:23:56

What do they call them in the Oscars? I thought it was best male and female in a leading/supporting role?

AllFallDown Wed 23-Jul-08 13:34:05

We're not talking about European languages. We're talking about English. So which other words have been rendered out of acceptable English by "tight-sphinctered PC buggers"? I can think of nigger, coon, wog, gyppo, pikey, yid etc etc ... I'd call that a victory, not a capitulation.

jamescagney Wed 23-Jul-08 13:42:57

i'm afraid I'm with actor. Here in Ireland, a policeman is known as a Guard and a female policeperson (!) as a Bean(pronounced ban) Garda (female Guard) You would never say a male Guard arrested so -and-s0 but people would say,it was a Bean Garda.
Annoyed the bejesus out of me.
it always seems in my tiny feminist mind that the female form of an occupation always is diminutive, I mean, aren't you glad that your child isn't taught by a teacheress, or attend church service held by a priestess !

UnquietDad Wed 23-Jul-08 13:47:26

For goodness' sake... How can you compare racial insults with feminine forms of nouns? Perspective, much?... hmm

UnquietDad Wed 23-Jul-08 13:49:18

Is a woman who sews a seamster? Or one who flirts a tempter?

Oliveoil Wed 23-Jul-08 13:50:44

I would be an actress

actor my arse

you lot would analyse a dead fly on a windowledge

AnnieAreYouOkAreYouOkAnnie Wed 23-Jul-08 13:53:23

My friend used to work as a waitress. She wanted to be an actress. It wouldn't have been anywhere near as dramatic if she couldn't fling her arms around saying 'I'm an actress'.
She wasn't very good though. She is probably still a waitress. Waiter. Whichever.

AllFallDown Wed 23-Jul-08 14:04:09

UQD, words have power and meaning. I've already said why most reputable newspapers have now moved towards gender neutral terms for jobs wherever possible and practicable (clearly there are some jobs for which no gender neutral term exists). One of the reasons words evolved and were used was to assign power; feminine diminutives were used to assign power to men. Just as racial insults were used to assign power to white people. They are part of the same continuum, if at nowhere near the same place on it. This isn't "tight sphinctered PC" buggery; it's what language is all about. If you think it's petty to talk about an actor rather than an actress, how much more petty is it to sneer at a gradual (and hardly rigidly enforced) change that affects you not one jot, and which helps language evolve in a more egalitarian way?

TheFallenMadonna Wed 23-Jul-08 14:09:40

Hmm. I get the headteacher thing. And firefighter. Because they actually are gender-neutral. But actor isn't gender neutral really, is it? It is an appropriation of the male noun for use with both sexes. So in order to be taken seriously, a woman must take the masculine form of the word?

jura Wed 23-Jul-08 14:11:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AllFallDown Wed 23-Jul-08 14:12:54

No, because actor was a word used for anyone who acted - when there were only male actors. It wasn't a gender specific word. Actress became a gender specific word when women were allowed on stage, and so had to be given a diminutive. Actor is gender-neutral. Only social convention assigned a gender to it.

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