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-   -   Do you add -ess to words? eg. Lawyeress? (http://www.wowwomen.com/boards/showthread.php?t=1957)

newyorktaxi September 26th, 2010 05:33 AM

Do you add -ess to words? eg. Lawyeress?
At the range a couple days ago, someone called me a shootress. I was very offended, because I like to be called a shooter.

I looked it up, and it is correct, though-should I use it, or is it demeaning?

Here's what I found:

From The Elements of English Grammar (1894):

Occupations once reserved to men are now thrown open to women. If we wish to mark the female sex of the persons following these occupations, we must either use compounds and say lady-doctor, lady-lawyer, or manufacture inflected forms and say doctress, lawyeress.

From The history of the famous preacher, Friar Gerund de Campazas: otherwise Gerund Zotes (1758):

Whilst he was a writer to the Notary at St. Milan, he had observed in various processes such expressions as these, Mary Gavilan, the fourth witness, being examined, &c. Ann Palomo, the eighth witness, &c. this hurt him infinitely; for, said he within himself, if a man is a witness, a women must necessarily be a witnessess since otherwise, the sexes are confounded, [...] Neither could he suffer that the author of "The Life and Miracles of St. Catherine" should say, Catherine, the subject of our history; seeming to him that Catherine and subject were false concord, since it amounted to the same as to say, Catherine, the man of our history, it being a plain case that men only ought to be called subjects, and women subjectesses. But if he met in a book with such an expression as, She was not a common woman, but a genius and an elegant writer, he totally lost his patience, and said to his scholars, all furious and flaming with wrath, "Intolerable! What is there more to be done, but to take off our beards and breeches and put them upon women! Why should it not be said, She was not a common woman, but a geniusess and an elegant writrix?"

Rainbowville September 28th, 2010 06:40 PM

Well there is English and then there is colloquial English. I personally prefer the latter so I don't use -ess. This is actually the first I heard of it.Only seen it used in the context of actor/actress now that I think of it. I don't think the person meant it to be demeaning but I won't be using it as I don't think you need to be classified by sex for a profession/activity etc.

Die-Weisse-Dame October 9th, 2010 12:55 PM

The point about "ess" has been a long time coming and really should be addressed more. It is demeaning to women, absolutely. The "ess" means the it is just the female version of a man's something and therefore less significant. In my opinion, it should never be used. Even in sports, they have the Professional Golfer's Association (PGA) and this is open only to men. For females they have the Ladies Professional Golfer's Association (LPGA). If we had true equality of the sexes, there would be the Men's Professional Golfer's Association for males. This is just an example, there are many other such subtle things that indicate that the role the women play is of less importance that the men's role. Girls, we should really run with this one and everytime we hear someone use the "ess" word, call them on it, ask them what in fact they mean, get people used to the idea that we, as women, take offence of it. Most women even need to be educated on this, as most times it is just used from habit and not from an intent. Thanks for introducing this.

moniker February 14th, 2011 07:50 PM

I'm with Weisse Dame. Adding "ess" or specifying "female" or "lady" or "woman" shows that women are still struggling with being viewed as equals. I even stopped calling female actors "actresses" because I don't believe in the distinction.

NewYorkTaxi, if someone called me a shootress, I'd say, "No, I'm a shooter. Just because I have a pair of tits doesn't mean you have to call me a whole new word."

PriscillaMS December 2nd, 2013 10:12 AM

Frankly I don't mind the "ess" suffix all that much. Recently I was referred to as a hostess of the party. I wasn't offended.

I find it odd too that many actresses in Hollywood now refer to themselves as "actors". (Neglecting the historical deference to the masculine, i.e. "everyone should bring "his" pencil to school tomorrow") Doesn't it seem somewhat hypocritical to have a "best actress" award? Why not just a "best actor"? Should we forget gender?

crazymomma December 2nd, 2013 01:15 PM

No Pris, we need the gender separation only because it seems to me there are more men in movies than women.

Jennifer23 December 2nd, 2013 06:12 PM

I really don't have a problem with either. To me, it's just another form of political correctness, which I hate. My black friends call themselves "black", not "African Americans". So, if a woman is a success, do we say that she succs?

crazymomma December 8th, 2013 12:37 AM

LOL OMG Jen!!! How funny but you're right. In this day and age?? IDK could be my age?

PriscillaMS December 9th, 2013 02:04 PM

CM and Jen, I forgot I made that post. I went to a Catholic HS. The boys were Crusaders....the girls Crusaderettes.

Most likely neither is now politically correct!

What were you guys in HS?

Jennifer23 December 9th, 2013 06:02 PM

We were "The Blue Streaks" in HS. The boys were called Streaks and we were called Lady Streaks.

crazymomma December 9th, 2013 07:56 PM

Oh wow I feel like I win we were the Cougars. I guess we were ahead of our time cause we were all cougars.

Jennifer23 June 6th, 2014 10:34 PM


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