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Archive for November 16th, 2007

Back in the halcyon days of the early 70’s, when I was a mere child entering grade school (and right there I have dated myself), there were The Letter People. 

I vaguely remember my classroom having The Letter People hanging around, to help teach letter sounds to the children who just didn’t quite grasp the notion of phonics and its’ connection to reading.  As a reader from age 4, I never paid much attention to The Letter People, because duh, I knew which letters made which sounds. 

But because of The Letter People in their 1970’s incarnation, I now think of the alphabet’s consonants as masculine, and the vowels as feminine. 

Striking a blow to feminism right there.

In 1990 The Letter People got a much-needed political-correctness tweak, where the parent company owning the rights to this system equalized the number of female letters to the number of male letters, among other changes. 

But in my mind, AEIOU are all female and everything else is male. 

Does that make me a bad feminist? Or should I even care? 

I mean, thank God we’ve come as far as we have.  Women in business don’t need to wear a suit and ridiculous floppy tie to be considered businesslike anymore.  (I wore those stupid ties for a while… and then I relegated them to hairbows… and then I cut my hair.)  We can dress and look and act feminine — or not — as much as we care to these days. 

Does it really matter that we assign gender to inanimate objects and events and abstractions?  (National Hurricane Center, I’m looking at you.) 

The whole reason I’m taking this feministy trip down memory lane is that Spawn is having some issues with reading and I’m trying everything I can think of to help the kid.  The Letter People!  Worked for some of my classmates!  Maybe we should try that!  Works better than me screaming “what don’t you get about this?!”! 

Spawn is at that point of assigning gender to everything.  All dogs are boys, all cats are girls.  You know, that sort of thing.  (Which, come to think of it, is how I, a rational, educated adult, tend to look at things.  Hm.)  So maybe The Letter People can help, with their 50/50 divide between the genders. 

I expect that the New and Improved Letter People will take some adjustment on my part to make this work. 

— Mox

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