[Smt-talk] Gender Terminology in Music

Ninov, Dimitar N dn16 at txstate.edu
Wed Apr 30 08:25:30 PDT 2014

Dear Colleagues,

I myself have not had many occasions to use or promote terms such as "masculine" or "feminine" in music theory. I agree there are better and more concrete terms in music theory.

However, the point of my posting here was to test "the wind of times". I would like to express my opinion on the exclusion of the so-called "sexist language" in the form of such nouns as "man", "mankind" and such pronouns as "he", "him", and "his".

I personally think that there is a big problem with politics messing up with literature. For me, the deliberate avoidance of the words listed above has inflicted irreparable damage to the fluency and clarity of thought; it has crippled the beauty of sentential structure and the flight of imagination. The constant repetition of "he or she" or the substitution of "they" after "one" or "any" creates a literary trap which forces the writer to sacrifice rich and fluent language in the name new and suspicious literary policies. Just open some books written 15 years ago and compare them to contemporary books, full of the "he or she" cycle.

I think that nobody gets personally offended when they read authors who use the general category of "man" to imply all human beings.  At least, nobody condemns or burns books, newspapers or journals in public. The problem begins when politics forcefully breaks in and starts hinting on the "discriminatory" nature of the literary language. I think that contemporary editorial committees in the filed of literature and scholarly publications have fallen victims of what I call "a twisted mentality" which rests on the idea of purging all writings from (imaginary) discrimination. One must be a fool to think that Aristotle is discriminating women, when he writes "All men by nature desire to know". After all, even today, this sentence sounds beautiful, and nobody can convince me that beauty had ever carried discrimination.

Having said all of the above, I am hasty to add that, when I submit an article for a review, I observe the norms imposed by those committees. However, if I wrote a book, I would be seeking a publisher who believes that creativity and fluency of thought shall not be scarified in the name of political agendas and twisted interpretations of daily human relationships.

Thank you,


Dr. Dimitar Ninov, Lecturer
School of Music
Texas State University
601 University Drive
San Marcos, Texas 78666

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