Weak pool: why women do not want to be deputies and psychologists


Most Russians are critical of feminists. Moreover, women themselves are the most negatively disposed. Only a few of them approve of the use of such words as “deputy”, “blogger”, “director”, “surgeon”, and the like. Why ladies do not consider modern feminitives to be a manifestation of equality, what seems offensive in them and how to react to such expressions – in the material of Izvestia.

Women’s logic


p dir=”ltr”>Many ladies seem to forget about equality when it comes to feminitives – feminine nouns formed from cognate masculine nouns and denoting social status and professions. Most women prefer the masculine version, as it has been for centuries. According to research, held for RIA Novosti, 63% of our compatriots have a negative attitude towards newfangled designs. Among women, there are 67% of such opponents, and 74% of the women surveyed never use such newspeak in their speech. Russian women don’t like feminists because they “cut the ear” and “mangle the Russian language.”

Photo: RIA Novosti / Maxim Bogodvid

– One could call the emergence of new feminists a logical continuation of gender equality, but many women really cannot stand it when such words are used in relation to them. Firstly, most of these terms are not even registered in dictionaries: everyone understands them, but these designations do not have an official status. Secondly, most often feminitives are used with a negative, caustic connotation. Where is the equality here? – says psychologist Olesya Maryaeva.

The expert emphasizes that women prove by their deeds that their professionalism is no less than that of men, therefore such appeals are perceived more as bullying.

general and general

However, the emergence of new words is inevitable. The question is whether it is the respondents and deputies who will take their place in the dictionaries, if native speakers react to them so sharply.

– Any language system is very often based on historically established rules and patterns. It just so happened that the Russian language, unlike, for example, Polish, is masculine. Traditionally, the names of positions, titles and professions are given in the masculine form. And if we are talking about a woman, then this becomes clear due to the name and surname. These are the rules, – explains the director of the department of scientific activities of the State Institute of the Russian Language. A.S. Pushkin Andrey Shcherbakov.

Photo: TASS/Sergey Fadeichev

From the school bench we are taught that it is necessary to say not a librarian, but a librarian, not an accountant, but an accountant. On plates and badges should be written, for example, Doctor of Philology Ivanova, and not a doctoral or doctoral student. Professor Sidorova, not a professor or professor. The expert emphasizes that military ranks are traditionally given in the form of the masculine gender, even if they are assigned to women. True, if we are talking about a woman general, then the option “general” will not work. In this case, this word is not an equivalent for a woman who wears shoulder straps, but for a general’s wife.

Of course, there are exceptions to any rule: for example, the words “actress”, “singer”, “dancer”. But such a feminitive familiar to us as a stewardess is not used in official and business speech. In the air transport system, the corresponding position is called a “flight attendant”. This is the tradition that has developed in the Russian language, Shcherbakov emphasizes.

– Why did it happen in the first place? In ancient times, in our traditional society, the role of a woman was rather secondary. If you look at historical documents, then men have always been in important positions. They worked and fed their families, while women mostly stayed at home, raised children, and did household chores, the philologist argues.

Feminitives have already tried to break into the official language. At the beginning of the 20th century, at the turn of the epochs, when many areas of activity were opened for women, a course was taken for equality. Then the “male” names also tried to be converted into feminitives, for example, an aviator – an aviator. At one time, Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova rebelled against the word “poetess”. They insisted on being called poets.

Photo: Izvestia/Eduard Kornienko

– At the legislative level, the rights of women are protected in our time, but in the language everything remains the same as before. However, this does not mean that change is impossible. It all depends on the natural process: it will take root – it will not take root. Language is a self-sufficient system that exists according to its own laws. He himself will figure out how to do it right, take convenient forms and mark out what he considers unnecessary. But this takes time,” the philologist continues.

Thank you fashion

In addition to linguistic traditions, in the case of unpopular feminitives, stylistic coloring plays a role: it is this that gives the words an undesirable connotation.

– As a rule, the names of professions in the masculine form sound neutral. And if we form a feminine form from them, then these words become colloquial or acquire a playfully ironic coloring. For example, a cashier (as opposed to a cashier) takes us into a conversational plane. A kind of rude type is drawn, not a very pleasant image, the philologist argues.

According to Andrey Shcherbakov, schoolchildren, calling the director of the school a headmistress, put an emotional assessment into the word – something playful or negative, as if it were a question of a person with whom unpleasant moments are connected. But the “principal of the school” sounds respectful and solid.

There is no irony or negative evaluation in the word “teacher”. This is just a colloquial form: schoolchildren and parents, when communicating with each other, call a female teacher that way. Of course, in the official text, the masculine form is used – for example, a math teacher.

Photo: Global Look Press/dpa/Jens Kalaene

Feminitives have become widespread in certain areas of communication. So, bloggers and active users of social networks sprinkle their speech with words formed using the suffixes -ess, -in, -k. However, fashion is capricious and changeable.

– Today, one style is relevant, and tomorrow these clothes will be hopelessly outdated and will seem ridiculous and ridiculous. They can even laugh at a person in an old-fashioned outfit – we meet by clothes. It’s the same with the language, – Andrey Shcherbakov argues.

The expert emphasizes that the fashion for feminists is kept precisely in an area that is informal in nature and where everything new easily penetrates. In official circles and scientific texts, such options are not found. If we theoretically assume that doctors and editors will stay in the Russian language, then a long period of time must pass before they get into scientific use or business communication. Such spheres are very conservative – language norms and traditions are very rigid in this environment.

Photo: TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

— Of course, language processes have recently become more active, accelerating — the pace of life now is not the same as it was 100 years ago. Previously, it would take 40–50 years for a word to change, become common, enter the dictionaries and be fixed there (with the exception of borrowings – here the process is faster). But even now, 15–20 years must pass before the word takes root in the lexical system. I admit that the stewardess can still “take root”. But the author is unlikely. Such a word personally makes me smile if it is pronounced seriously, – says Andrey Shcherbakov.

According to the philologist, stylistic (colloquial, ironic or dismissive) coloring is felt in recent feminitives, whether we like it or not. The expert believes that it is this circumstance that will prevent professions in the form of the feminine gender from standing in line with the usual “male” options. Most likely, they will remain in colloquial speech.

No need to be nervous

Experts from the field of psychology and psychiatry agree with the philologist. According to psychologist Olesya Maryaeva, “authors”, “directors”, “lawyers” are not typical for the classical Russian language. And being uttered in a pejorative form, they lose the meaning for which they are introduced into speech.

– Feminitives can be perceived negatively by women, because our ladies are brought up according to the classical canons, when it is customary to use the names of professions in the masculine gender. Such a traditional, even patriarchal upbringing makes one perceive new words negatively. It seems that they are unaesthetic, dissonant, – adds the psychotherapist, psychiatrist Alexei Vilkov.

Photo: Global Look Press/dpa/Hannes P Albert

The brain is conservative, and people treat new terms with doubt and anxiety, the doctor notes. But the psychiatrist does not advise losing your temper if someone’s speech is full of such expressions.

– It should be taken into account that all people are different, with their own character traits, habits and beliefs. And it makes no sense to re-educate and convince someone – this is a waste of energy, and we most likely will not get anything but a negative reaction, Vilkov warns.

The psychotherapist recommends that we protect ourselves from unnecessary disputes, especially since the literary norms of the language still protect us from such dissonant experiments.

Cherche la femme

Meanwhile, native speakers of the Russian language have something to worry about even without feminitives. For example, about why our compatriots have had a negative attitude towards the address “woman”, which is quite popular in our country, for decades.

– Who is a “woman” in the understanding of the women themselves? This is someone older than middle age, unattractive in appearance, not causing a desire to meet and invite for a cup of coffee. What a huge difference with a “girl” who is young, attractive, energetic! That is why a seemingly neutral appeal can give rise to a whole storm of negative emotions, says the psychologist.

Photo: Izvestia/Eduard Kornienko

However, the point is not even that the appeal contains a kind of hint of age. Even ladies of elegant age do not want to respond to him, considering the word rude and vulgar. However, according to the expert, there are no alternatives to such an address in public speech practice, just as there are practically no options with which you can call out to an unfamiliar man on the street if you need to clarify the way or time.

– In such cases, we simply replace the appeal with some kind of etiquette form of apology or greeting – “hello”, “sorry”. Or we say in the subjunctive mood – “could you …”, “would you tell me …”. It’s just that a stable form of addressing a stranger has not been developed in the Russian language, – Andrey Shcherbakov notes.

The expert recalls that in pre-revolutionary times, “sir” and “madame” were such stable addresses, in Soviet times they were replaced by the form “comrade”, which was preserved in the charter of the armed forces. By the way, in the 17th and 18th centuries, this word was used as a designation for a deputy senior official. For example, Deputy Minister, Deputy Prosecutor. And only then did the word have a meaning in the sense of “friend.”

– Addresses “mister” and “madam” are also not always appropriate these days, especially in crowded public transport. The words “citizen” and “citizen” seem to require the continuation of “let’s go.” Something else suggests itself, – ironically Andrey Shcherbakov.

But again, it will take time for a suitable option to appear. The philologist emphasizes that it is impossible to impose some kind of treatment by violent means – it must form by itself, settle down, spread and gain a foothold in the rules of etiquette.


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