Commentary Magazine


Gender

To the Editor:

Your description of Dachine Rainer as a “poetess” (September) makes me suspect that one of your editors has not overly concerned himself with the work of female poets after the Age of Victoria. Unless your Sherry Abel is an editoress, Hannah Arendt an authoress, and Isa Kapp a revieweress, you had better put that noun “poetess” back among the cobwebs.

Sol Stein
New York City

[(The view of those who object to the feminine ending) “is that the female author is to raise herself to the level of the male author by asserting her right to his name; but if there is one profession in which more than in others the woman is the man’s equal it is acting; and the actress is not known to resent the indication of her sex; the proof of real equality will be not the banishment of authoress as a degrading title, but its establishment on a level with author. Nor, after all, does an authoress, a doctoress, a lioness, a votaress, a prophetess, or a Jewess, cease to be an author, a doctor, a lion, a votary, a prophet, or a Jew, because she ends in -ess. . . .“
—H. W. Fowler, Modern English Usage]

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