Sunday, July 4, 2010
Challenging the Pseudo-generic Man
On the discussion board, I discussed about the slide on the lecture for my class about the Pseudo-generic "Man" and the examples of phrases that use male nouns as "generic." Such an example is "All men are created equal." As we celebrate today our patriotism towards America of our freedom and the Declaration of Independence, it is interesting to look at that sentence from a feminist point of view. While we associate the sentence with feelings of liberty and freedom, the thought that only men appear to be entitled to be equal is an assumption of what that sentence means. I can't speak for Thomas Jefferson and explain what he was thinking at that time when he was writing our great Declaration of Independence, but I am sure that women are just as entitled to their right to be equal as men are. Sure, Jefferson could have done what the people who wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, in which it read "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights..." but, unfortunately, he didn't. Of course, the purpose of the activity the slide was presenting wasn't to bash the most famous line in any American document, but it was to show that "man" or "men" seem to be thrown in to many sentences, such as "mankind," "manpower," "man's best friend," and the list goes on. What the slide wanted to show was that instead of saying "man" (or even "woman" or "women") try to use something that can combine not only men and women, but also people of color, race, ethnicity, and so on and so forth. My final example is something that I was taught in my freshman year of high school. Conflicts are one of the most important functions of a fictional literature that is to be thought up before writing any story. What I found on Wikipedia is a list of all the concepts one can think of when writing a story. What I was taught in high school were "Man vs. Man," "Man vs. Nature," "Man vs. Self," etc., but when you look at the Wikipedia page, you will notice that it has "Character vs. Character," "Character vs. Nature," "Individual vs. Self," and so on. Thus I was taught a Pseudo-generic "Man" phrase without even realizing.