On Thu, 24 Sep 1998, Laurie Gerholz wrote:

> S'Okay. I know I've been lurking mostly for a couple months here, as
> I've been busy with RL projects. And you are correct, even given all the
> issues in my other ranting post, this list is indeed primarily male.
> I did go back and read Baba's post. I have to emphatically disagree with
> the comparison summed up by "language as mistress". Sorry, I don't
> agree.

I think it was a common trope, though... like rhetoric is a mistress.  Or
poetry.  Suspicious to Plato and Augustine as something that could seduce
the pious man away from his duties to God.

The rest of what you say here, Laurie, I think I say as well in my long
post.  The practical necessities of keeping daily life running has always
been the obligation of the woman.  But even when that yoke is lifted, as
it seems to have been for a lot of women in this century, it is hard
sometimes to lay aside the counseling of our mothers: be practically
minded; get married; be secretive about your dreams; don't TALK too much
lest you destroy your "mystery"; do something respectable. My aunt on my
marriage day four years ago:  "We're happy for Sally now that she's
*finally* gotten married; we hope she enjoys her new status." (on
videotape, no less).  Kim would never have understood the conlanging.
Also, I'd like ten bucks for every time I've heard some people say that
women who don't marry or couples that don't have children are "selfish."
The cultural attitudes are still there and slow to erase.

But what interests me is that women are VOLUBLE in academic circles and in
venues that serve that.  In the academic humanities, the numbers of women
are growing.  More and more women are also publishing science fiction and
fantasy.  I don't know what the statistics are for Role Playing Games and
underground fanzines, but Penley has shown that the so-called "slash"
fiction about TV men (especially Star Trek) is overwhelmingly authored by
women.  Why hasn't conlang been sought out as a refuge for imaginative,
linguistic women?  Is it its unsexiness?  (unsexy, that is, for women?
Academic women are very caught up these days in issues of gender and race,
as are men, too... but it has a kind of sexiness that philology and
source studies does not).  Where is the sexiness of conlang?  Where are
the Suzette Hayden Elgins of conlang?

 Sally ==================================================

> But I will not deny that that author was correct in his finding that
> practically all historical conlangers have been male. I'd suggest that
> this is more similar to the function that until recently, most of our
> philosophers (in European based cultures) have been male, most of our
> academic thinkers in general have been male.
> Most women have simply not had the option to retire to the study away
> from the necessities of keeping daily life running. Women of privledge
> who don't have to worry about the constant repeating work (like
> housework, which must continually be re-done), still haven't, in
> general, been allowed the luxury of retreating to the study. They are
> expected to be active in social circles or good works, or *anything*
> that will keep them from being "idle". Let's not even get into the fact
> that education was denied or discouraged for women, even in the upper
> classes. I'll also note that this retreat hasn't been available to most
> *men*, but more men have been able to make this escape than women.
> Laurie
> ---
> [log in to unmask]

Sally Caves
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