Lady [Insert Job Title Here] 12

This may come as a shock, but I am not a “Lady Geologist.” I do not examine women visually and use lab tests in order to understand their physical properties, provenance, and environment of deposition. I have never gone up to a female stranger, hammered a chunk off of her, and sent it to the lab so I could determine the abundance of her constituent minerals. That kind of thing would, I assume, land me in jail.

I’m a Sedimentary Geologist. I commit those sorts of friendly acts on sedimentary rocks, which are mineralogically more interesting and also don’t mind if you take a hammer to them. (Okay maybe they do mind, but they have no legal standing under current US law.)

I would likewise think that “Lady Lawyers” don’t limit themselves to female clients. And “Lady Engineers” don’t spend their time designing more durable women in AutoCAD. And “Lady Writers” (this I can speak to personally) don’t just write women or about women. And “Lady Editors” don’t leave trails of women in their wake, panting and covered with marks made in track changes.

Oh, right. The “Lady” is supposed to indicate that we’re a professional of some sort that happens to be a lady. And what’s wrong with that?

It’s simple. By feeling the need to point out that holy shit, that engineer is a woman, you are paying lip service to the idea that it’s only normal for men to be engineers. That women are the exception instead of just a normal part of the professional landscape. When you append or job titles with the unnecessary flag of gender, it effectively removes us from the work ecosystem and marks us as an invasive species, abnormal and not belonging.

Maybe I could have understood that more back when women were just starting to claw our way as a group out of the role of housewife, but our presence in the workforce hasn’t been a surprise in decades or far longer. (At my ripe old age of 32, I literally do not remember a time when women were not doctors, lawyers, and engineers, though admittedly not without struggle.) It isn’t shocking–SHOCKING!–that women write scifi. You have heard about this little book called Frankenstein, right?

And using the word Lady instead of Woman? Just makes it sound more cutesy and condescending because it’s a callback to all that chivalry bullshit. I’m not a lady, guys. I’m a woman. I’ve yet to hear someone referred to as a Lady Anything when her accomplishments or her gender weren’t then subsequently (if subtly) belittled. Wow, look what she did, and she’s a lady! Look what that lady did, unlike all those other women! Pretending to be amazed over and over again that we are here and working and doing just fine effectively erases our presence in the past.

Do you get what I’m saying? Do you get why I (and many of my fellow women, though please don’t think I am in any way claiming to speak for all women) are getting a little tired of that shit? Do you get why, even if it wasn’t meant to be patronizing or paternalistic, it might sound that way?

Good. Now kindly knock it off.

When I’m at work, I’m a goddamn Sedimentary Geologist. I’m a Writer. The presence or absence of tits does not change either of these facts.

12 thoughts on “Lady [Insert Job Title Here]

  1. Reply redheadedfemme Jun 4,2013 09:47

    Oh hell yes. Thank you.

  2. Reply Sarah E Jun 4,2013 09:51

    *wild applause*

  3. Pingback: Everyday Sexism and Giant Space-Dicks | Thomas Pluck

  4. Reply Kat Jun 4,2013 10:16

    Education is the only place I’ve seen it reversed: there’s “teacher” and “male teacher,” at least in elementary. Apparently men teaching kindergarten is just not done, even though they are amazing.

    • Reply Rachael Jun 4,2013 10:41

      I think it’s that and nursing, though male nurse seems to finally be going away. Hmmm. I wonder if men managed to get into nursing before primary school teaching…

      • Reply Ingvar Jun 5,2013 04:30

        Oddly (or maybe not) enough, in Swedish, where there are separate words for “nurse(male)” and “nurse(female)”, the word that means “male nurse” is specifuically a psych-ward nurse and the word that means “female nurse” is any other nurse. So you end up with beople being “male/female nurse(male)” and “male/female nurse(female)”.

        I guess the words stuck the way they did due to early (19th-century, I guess) gender-bias in nursing.

  5. Reply --E Jun 4,2013 12:27

    Men were in teaching before women were–I recall being startled that Laura Ingalls Wilder seemed to feel that a male teacher was the norm, and a female teacher somewhat more rare.

    Nursing has gained a lot of respect in recent years, as they require more schooling, and it has become more difficult to hire good ones. Their pay has improved (on average) whereas teachers have taken pay cuts. I suspect these factors have led a lot more men into nursing, to the point now where it’s not so surprising.

  6. Reply Laura Hardgrave Jun 4,2013 17:36

    You know what this whole thing reminds me of? The whole issue with the tag “girl gamer”. It’s the same damn issue. Some of us, you know, just want to game, and not be tagged as an underage pair of tits.

    Great writeup, I agree completely!

  7. Reply Emily Jun 5,2013 14:17

    i read “sedimentary” as “seminary”. which, you know, i’d find massively funny if you chiseled chunks of out priests.

  8. Reply John Jun 11,2013 10:27

    Have you been watching What’s My Line reruns? That is about the only place I would expect to hear Lady Geologist.

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