Saturday, September 10, 2011

Canadian Press Stylebook on Sexism and Sexual Orientation

Okay, so, it took forever to make my internet work in this apartment. So frustrating, seriously. But, I’m settled in, I’m doing good, and I started my Journalism classes at Niagara college today! They seem promising, and I think I’m going to enjoy them.

Also, I got my text books. I had to flip through The Canadian Press Stylebook 16th Edition because: A. Knowing this is like 60% of my mark in one class.
B. It’s going to be important career-wise.
And C. I wanted to see what kind of stuff it talks about. My grandfather told me it was kind of boring but important, so I wanted to see what he meant. Lots of fiddley little rules I’m going to have to get to know very well. But I was looking through the Table of Contents and I see “sexism, sexual orientation, abortion” all together and I just HAD to see what it said. And you know what? It’s pretty good. I’m impressed and pleased with the journalistic standards in these regards. Seeing what the measure is for the way that these topics are addressed and discussed in the public forum is interesting to see from the other side.

Bits I liked best in these three topics (actually, just sexism/sexual orientation, abortion boils down to ‘use pro/against abortion rights unless groups in question use pro-life/pro-choice, be careful out there.’)

Sexism: “Referring to a woman gratuitously as attractive, leggy or sexy is as innapropriate as describing a man as hot, well-muscled or having great buns.” -I like this mainly because someone managed to get the phrase ‘having great buns’ into my textbook about stylistic writing guidelines.

“Never assume that a family of four consists of a man, a woman and their two children. Don’t write as if every married couple consists of a man and a woman.”

Sexual Orientation: “Gay and lesbian are the preferred terms to describe people attracted by the same sex; homosexual is considered offensive by some. Avoid except in clinical contexts and quotations. Lesbian woman is redundant. Don’t use gay as a noun. Althought many gay people use the expression queer, avoid except in quotations as some readers may construe it as offensive.” Okay, I’m going to have to raise my hand and point out bisexual/pansexual people vis a vis the first bit, but I really enjoy the ‘lesbian woman is redundant’ line. Also, I should ask if you can use the word queer in a column, where you speak as yourself, and you’re someone who self-identifies as queer. Hmm, does a column technically count as one huge giant quote?

“Use sexual orientation, not sexual preference; sexuality is not an option. Don’t refer to the gay lifestyle or suggest that the majority of gay men and lesbians routinely live unorthodox lives; most don’t.” I WILL HAVE YOU KNOW, TEXTBOOK, THAT EVERY NIGHT WHILE THE STRAIGHT PEOPLE SLEEP, WE BATTLE THE DREAD GOD DSSKA’FDSJHRE AND DEFEND THE UNIVERSE FROM IT’S INEVITABLE DESTRUCTION. Not unorthodox lives my butt. (The book said no swearing. ;-; Except in quotes. Wait! “My ass” says the girl who likes to think she’s funny.)

It also says to flag the story with a ‘caution’ note where a slur is used. Perhaps this is indicative of trigger warnings becoming more mainstream!

Bit I don’t really like:
“While there is still some dispute about the definitions of the terms, transgender is usually regarded as a general term under which more specific descriptions, such as cross dresser, transvestite, drag queen, shemale and transsexual, fall. Transsexual has a clinical definition as someone who identifies as a member or the sex opposite to that assigned at birth. Use the term the person in question uses (explain if necessary) and a pronoun consistent with how they live.” Okay, I dislike this being under ‘sexual orientation.’ I get why, because the term LGBT+ has lumped everyone in one big pile, but it’s really not the same thing. Gender identity=/=sexual orientation. Also, I wish they’d said not to use the word shemale unless the person in question uses it, because to my knowledge that is definitely not a good word. I’m probably going to at least point out that gender identity isn’t the same thing as sexual orientation in class, and that they should maybe rename the section ‘sexual and gender identities.

In total, about these sections, I was pretty impressed. It was progressive, fairly decent standards, and most of it worked for me.

If anyone has any issues with the bits I’ve quoted, let me know! Especially with the bit about gender identity. I’m cisgender, and I know I might have missed something offensive.