sorry, people, allow me to interrupt your animated discussions: it seems
that discussion about gender-neutral language has been going on for
quite a while in lots of fields, and still a lot gets written on it in
the field of woman studies, and a lot gets discussed in politics:
activist groups spend lots of time discussing it instead of overthrowing
governments, and the word remains a bad, yet more gender-neutral, place :)
Altough I do think that in this list there are great minds, I would not
suggest to aim at globally solving this still generally controversial
issue right here right now.
Allow me to suggest, with regards to Debian, something like a two-side
- from one side, collecting links to sites that gently sensibilize
about the issue (like for example the sociology research posteed by
Helen in http://lists.debian.org/debian-women/2004/08/msg00030.html)
- from the other side correcting and sending patches when you notice
that some text is especially gender-biased (and pointing to the
previously collected links when someone does not see it as a
Then, as experience with rewriting goes on, patterns are likely to be
seen emerging and maybe some more articulated proposal can come out. In
the meantime, more developers have a chance to become aware about it.
It may also help taking the issue out of ideology and sneaking it in a
wider (for Debian) context of simply have documentation and messages
which are nicer and more polite: I tend to file bugs also when error
messages blame the user (and even end with (sometimes many) exclamation
marks), when manpages have wording like "if you don't like this I don't
care: fix it yourself" and so on. Adding "the text is too
gender-biased" to this wider range may help in framing it in something
that a wider range of people may already care for.
Anyway, raise the temperature of the water slowly, or the frog jumps out
of the pot.