if “womer” is a “gendered term for one of many genders” then please show me terms from this construction that would apply to these “many other genders”, that would apply to nb characters
there isnt. just as man/woman doesn’t leave any space for them
Yeah, I see that side too. Do gender neutral ‘mer’ and ‘womer’ as a word for ‘non-human woman’ have to be mutually exclusive, though?
why though……… thats kinda like bringing back the “man/woman” thing where “man” is male but is also supposed to be gender neutral sometimes….. i dont really understand what you’re saying :o
if we have “mer” which refers to race and is like “human” and its gender neutral, then why womer? thats kinda like wohuman or she-human
i don’t understand 0_0 can you explain?
The problems I personally have with ‘womer’ (other than the fact that it sounds really silly) are that:
- Since humans and elves can reproduce and have fertile children, that essentially makes them different races of the same species. So ‘mer’ is referring to an ethnic supergroup (by which I mean a catch-all for a variety of different races who are descended from a single people and share a single ancestral culture).
Since ‘mer’ is used by elves as a gender-neutral term, forcing a gender onto it sort of makes ‘womer’ a bit like saying ‘Jewess’. I mean, you’re not going to personally insult any elves if you use it, but that’s still… regressive.
- Linguistically it doesn’t make sense. Taking ‘mer’ as an analogue to ‘man’ doesn’t directly translate to man/woman —> mer/womer, not least because historically ‘man’ was a gender-neutral term. The Old English words for ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are wereman and wifman: man-human and wife-human.
The fact that we just have ‘man’ and ‘woman’ now is pretty much bad linguistic practice in and of itself; according to this logic, men are just ‘human’, and women are ‘wife-humans’. They’re ‘person’ and ‘gendered person’, or ‘Default’ and ‘Other’. Anyone with a grain of common sense would tell you that they’re just two different, equally normal genders.
But so goes it, language moves on, fortunately women are not automatically men’s wives these days (in most places, and praise be!) and ‘man’ is no longer a gender-neutral term. That doesn’t mean you have to apply its faulty logic to fantasy races.
- Since the ‘wo’ bit of ‘woman’ comes from ‘wif’, or wife, it’s based in a culture where heterosexuality is the accepted norm. However, Tamrielic races have never had the same ideas about sexuality. They don’t see queerness as abnormal, just uncommon. A Default needs an Other in order to define itself, or there’s no such thing as a default in the first place. If queerness isn’t the bad, abnormal Other, then straightness cannot be the good, normal Default.
Secondly, women of any race have never been inferior. I’d say that gender issues in Tamriel are more about prizing masculinity than seeing men as superior, which is confusing from a sociohistorical point but, I mean, it’s fantasy and I’m sure I could find some excuse if I thought hard enough. Almalexia was High Alma back in the First Era, Alessia founded the first Cyrod Empire and nobody handed control over to Morihaus, Ayrenn is Queen of Alinor, female player characters are not barred from anything male player characters can do, etc. Really their only problem is all these mysterious deaths by crushed sternum.
So essentially it doesn’t make etymologic sense to call a mer a ‘wife-mer’ in a culture or cultures where women’s roles are not reduced to wives and male property, and where heterosexuality is not expected and enforced.
This is everything I was going to reply with, so instead I’ll just reblog it.
To snap back to our own discussion earlier:
I agree, but as you pointed out, ‘Mer’ is repeatedly set opposite ‘Man’ in the collective.
That’s because “man and mer” sounds nice. You could just as easily write it as “humans and elves” but it doesn’t have the same ring.
I’m not trying to argue that it is definitely gender specific, I’m just saying that there’s enough hints around that I don’t want to generalize what may be a cypher for a patriarchal term.
Do you speak a second language? As I pointed out earlier, other languages don’t have the problem of a gendered default noun. I would imagine that part of voryn-dagoth’s problem with you trying to put genders on Mer is that his native Polish, like my Russian, has a gender-neutral collective noun which works wonderfully. As do many other languages. There is absolutely no need to have mer have any patriarchal connotations, outside of the desire to map it to English, which does.
Because it’s a word for ‘non-human woman’ that doesn’t require definition at every turn. It’s literally just a convenient elf version of ‘woman’ so I don’t have to use a human term for them or constantly explain what I mean.
Again, why is this necessary? Think of Mer as a nationality. Do you constantly need a way to say “American woman” besides just saying “American woman”? Or as a race: do we need a separate word for “black woman”?
Also, as aelfgyve pointed out, by creating a term for “elf woman” you are making the default “elf” necessarily male.You’re assigning the patriarchal male = normal female = other dichotomy, not the language itself. If you want to keep “mer” as gender neutral but still use “womer,” you need to also invent and start using a male prefix for mer.
I do not see how it can be any more dehumanizing (in the way you meant) than ‘woman.’
Woman is the accepted term for the gender, and stands apart from man despite using it in its construction. I, personally, have no problem with the “man” part of it - those who do are more than welcome to use the already established womyn. She-noun, on the other hand, is something we reserve for animals. It isn’t its own word, it’s putting a prefix and a little dash in front of the male term, saying literally (not just by virtue of linguistic history) “this other thing that isn’t like the normal thing”.