A question

Being a woman in public life is not without challenge. Female MPs, athletes and actors are subjected to abuse on and offline.

I know why actresses are now called actors but I’m not sure why, in the past, we didn’t use the word athlettes. Is it just because we didn’t have any back when we were coining words?

20 comments on “A question

  1. “I know why actresses are now called actors”

    Well I don’t know. I believe it changed because “acting is a profession” and so all practitioners should be designated in one way only.

    However, in most other jobs the sex of the worker does not matter. In acting the sex of the person almost always absolutely does matter (although it would not surprise me if in the near future activism made even this illegal discrimination).

    Sorry, but I will not call acting a profession.

  2. English is an extremely ungendered language. My guess is that acting is one of the very few professions in which the sex of the performer is important. In athletics, since women almost never compete against men, less so.

    My other theory, probably more correct, is that without the feminine form there would be no actress and bishop jokes. Although perhaps actor and bishop jokes would be even better.

  3. If you endlessly serve socialist evil and are working to destroy everything still remaining that is decent and worthwhile you should fuckingwell expect abuse and calumny. You DESERVE it because you are leftist scum and wreckers.

  4. Way back, when ordination of women priests began, I remember our vicar getting really cross when someone referred to “priestesses”. I think the irregularity of English is designed to cause confusion to the French. Enjoy.

  5. Female MPs, athletes and actors are subjected to abuse on and offline.

    As do Male MPs, athletes and actors. The point being?

  6. When the Greeks were coining words there were no female athletes. So that could be a part of the answer.

  7. @decnine, there’s no doubt that the sole function of noun gender in German and other languages is to convey the information that the speaker is not a native.

  8. John77
    I don’t think that there were any female actors either in those days. Besides how would one know,everyone on stage wore a kaftan and a mask.

  9. @ BnLiA
    Greek Athletics was carried out naked – to the horror and disgust of Jews – so they did know.
    Actor is derived from Latin not Greek

  10. As far as I’m aware there never was any implication that “actress” was the feminine of “actor”. Just a polite way of referring to an altogether different career.

  11. “I know why actresses are now called actors”

    It isn’t so long ago that they were called harlots.

  12. dearieme,

    I know “model, actress, whore” is usually (and famously) bowdlerised but it still applies? Even post Weinstein?

  13. Are barmaids, bellboys, chambermaids, waitresses now forbidden words? Midwife?

    I use actress; Headmaster/mistress, Sir/Ma’am. Also introduce myself as Chairman of…

    Politically Crazy speak be damned.

  14. I saw a sign for an ombudperson meeting recently, actually had to stop and think for a second as the word just looks odd which defeats the object of just replacing ‘man’ in words for the sake of it because they are deemed sexist
    I would imagine someone with limited English skills being totally confused as to what it meant
    Though it was printed in multiple languages and I did wonder if they had been defendered in the same way

  15. “Midwife?”
    That’s from ‘with-wife’ isn’t it? No problem there, until –
    The modern problem is that the pregnant person is no longer expected to be a wife or perhaps even a woman.

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