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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Criminal Sentence 325: "Woman" Is the New "Female"

Two sentences close together in an article in today's paper:

"Who is likely to be the first woman president of the United States? ... Despite our assumption that a female president is inevitable and likely soonish..."

I personally object to using "woman" as an adjective. If presidents were ordinarily female and we were marveling at the possibility of a president who is a man, how many of us would write "the first man president"? Zero of us, most likely. Anyway, despite my dislike of "woman" as an adjective, it's common enough. So my second gripe here is that the writer was not consistent: woman president/female president. Pick one and stick with it.

Do you object to "woman" as an adjective?


Victoria said...

Yes, I do! "Woman" is a noun. Because "female" is a perfectly good adjective, I see no reason to make the noun do double duty.

Tom McCranie said...

My Webster says woman is a noun and female may be either a noun or an adjective. However, we may be witnessing a progression (regression) of our language. Until Webster changes, I will us woman as a noun...

k-bro said...

I think it sounds odd to use "woman," but I see it more and more. I'm curious why so many people are afraid to use "female."

Victoria said...

"The female of the species is more deadlier than the male..." ;-)

Westley said...

I really enjoy your example where you switch around the gender. It almost seemed fine to talk about a woman president (probably because I've heard it all to often), but when you talk about a man president, it certainly grates on the ear.

Thanks for the clear examples! :-)

Myk said...

"Woman" seems insulting to me (though I'm a man), like a word a husband uses when arguing with his wife ("Get out of my house, woman!"). And Tom's right: "woman" is a noun according to the dictionary, and should be used as so until changed into an adjective.