Acting : I am mourning the demise of the word "actress"!!! by Ardua de Potomac

Ardua de Potomac

I am mourning the demise of the word "actress"!!!

What is wrong with that word? I honestly don't get it. I'm proud to call myself a woman, and I would be proud to call myself an actress--or a laundress, huntress, princess, queen, Madam Secretary, or Chairwoman of the Board. Why is it suddenly politically incorrect for actresses to call themselves actresses? It's a lovely, elegant word! Who the heck decided it has a negative connotation? And, honestly, if people are saying the gender is irrelevant, why do we still have two gendered acting categories at the awards shows? Doesn't anybody see how ridiculous it is to have awards named "best male actor" and "best female actor"??? How does "best female actor" sound better or have a better meaning than "best actress"? It's almost MORE demeaning. If this is not political correctness run amok, I don't know what is! Pretending actors and actresses are the same thing at a time we are supposed to be celebrating diversity? And if there is an award named "best female actor", are we going to have to get an award named "best transsexual actor" or "best transgendered actor"? Or are we just sticking with the two categories? And if so, why? Why the TWO categories? Why not one or three? Sincerely, I am asking this question sincerely. What women need in the film business are better characters, better dialogue, and non-exploitative wardrobes. I am sick to death of seeing film scenes where the woman is changing her clothes for absolutely no plot reason other than to show her in her underwear. Or getting into the shower before the monster or criminal attacks you, so that you can be naked during the attack! Or wearing high heels and having your hair flopping all over your eyes when you are supposed to be a law enforcement agent. Or co-starring with a romantic lead old enough to be your father...or grandfather! Is calling yourself a "female actor" going to stop that nonsense? I don't think so.

Ardua de Potomac

Sex sells, but it's a cheap way to sell a story, and a cheap way to sell a "female actor". Just looking at how much boob Jennifer Aniston was showing at SAG awards proves that calling herself "an actor" didn't do anything about her belief she needs to flash in a major way to retain sex symbol status into middle age. Sorry, ladies, but a real feminist statement would be not feeling the need to expose the twins in public! There's a difference between showing cleavage and showing your breasts. What a sad example for young actresses.

Nkosi Guduza

I believe the whole point was Actor (men) Actress (women), everyone is too scared at the moment with ' ' politically incorrect, and who says ...just because people can't process the simplicity in differentiation. I wonder if we are still going to have men and women toilets? I wonder if we'll be allowed to be called Men soon, ...or Women will soon just want everyone to be called man. ;) aha. Some women, emasculate their own men so much, or those around them, they soon, want to see how far they can go. ' ' Here’s an idea, ...let’s do it everywhere. I think not. x

Blair Sangeet Constance

Hi ! :) I still use and like the word Actress . :)

Molly Kerr

The reason that those words pose a problem is: they are making a gender divide in a professions and jobs that are only arbitrarily divided between male and female lines. There's no reason for it. We don't call doctors that happen to be female doctoresses or female plumbers, plumbmistresses because it's not relevant to the position.

Pierre Langenegger

Actor is not a male specific term just as Doctor is not a male specific term. Actress is a relatively new term for those that felt a need to differentiate.

Ardua de Potomac

In many languages, you DO call doctor a different word for female or male--same for lawyer, professor, and writer. It's simply how those languages evolved--those titles will inherently have to be in either the masculine or feminine form in those languages, and if there are sexist attitudes about the people holding those positions, it is not stemming from the language choice. Women in many professions in the U.S. have faced considerable sexism, which their unisex job titles did not save them from. When doctors and lawyers and professors get awards, they are not divided into awards for men and women--unless the award is from a society dedicated to honoring just one gender. Why are show business awards divided into gender categories if the gender is irrelevant? Clearly somebody decided the gender is relevant in show business awards. I just don't understand rewarding it and denying it at the same time. I don't think women want to be called "Female Actor" either, but they are happy to accept an award that says "Best Female Actor". It makes no sense to me.

Eric McGill

Nkosi, what is wrong with being politically correct? "Actresses" make less than "actors." BTW, in some restaurants in the bay area, there are unisex toilets. Men and women use the same toilet. No, not at the same time, some privacy is necessary. Women don't want to be "man." you are being absurd. Next time you talk to your female doctor ask her if she wants to be referred to as a Doctoress. She, your doctor, is a professional and wants to be addressed as a professional. Female actors should get the same respect and acknowledgment as female doctors, lawyers, judges and plumbers.

Ardua de Potomac

But should they get the same award category? I don't see people addressing that.

Jeff Guenther

"Actress" is a convenient short-hand for "female actor," especially when casting/advertising. My sister was a draftsman and refused to be called anything else for PC reasons. She said "draftsperson" always ended up pronounced like Daffy Duck.

Veleka Gray

I agree. Well, at least we still have hostess and waitress. And once women are paid the same as men, it shouldn't be an issue.

Xan Aspero

Honestly, I agree with what Aruda is saying. I mean, it was more meaningful and seemed like it was putting a name out there for these women. When I grew up as a kid, and they would say " . . . . and Best Actress goes to . . . Best Supporting Actress goes to . . . ." they seemed to take more passion and pride in their thank you speeches. Today's generation is has a similar reaction because they are used to being called an actor, but then the prior generation actresses are called, they are still thankful and grateful, but I think not as emotional. Personally, I still call them actresses. I also don't understand why they can't call them Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. It's basically what is being said with more wording or I guess "politically correct". It's just not right. Maybe there should be a petition going on, seriously.

Leo Sopicki

I wonder how all the Political Correctness devotees would do in Spanish, French, or German where all nouns are either masculine, feminine or neuter. Probably make their heads explode.

Ardua de Potomac

Well, everybody knows moon is feminine and sun is masculine, Leo, don't they?!

Chanel Ashley

I like the term "actress" and I agree with Jeff, a convenient short-hand for "female actor" - I don't expect a doctor to become a doctress, but I'm extremely comfortable with actress, it resonates and sounds right - don't get me started on political correctness! - great you brought this up, Ardua.

Ruby Kleinschmidt

I am proud to be a WOMAN and prefer the term ACTRESS.

Suzanne Bronson

I prefer the term actress. My dad used to call it "your actressing." It's kinda funny. But to address Ardua's question, yes there does need to be two different categories of actors and actress as there are two genders of people and those genders experience life differently. As this is not the same as other professions where gender doesn't matter, it is important to be addressed. And most other languages do have words for female teachers/doctors/lawyers, etc. And the Academy Awards committee certainly seemed to forget that. When did this become such a controversy for them? In Old Hollywood, no actress would ever have even dreamed of saying, "I'm a female actor." And they also used the term starlet then. I agree with Xan, we should petition the Academy to change it back to actress.

Ruby Kleinschmidt

Another thought to ponder .... 'why do women have to become gender neutral to be politically correct?' We would never expect men to refer to themselves as male actresses. The Creator whoever you believe him/her to be created two genders male and female and I feel we should celebrate both genders by honoring and enjoying the differences.

Ardua de Potomac

Exactly. Actor is not a gender-neutral word--it is actually masculine by etymology. This is why I think having awards for "male actor" and "female actor" is just silly. It's making the English language uglier and doing nothing to advance the status of women in Hollywood. For women to accept that "actress" is some kind of derogatory term is a horrible step in the wrong direction. Embrace it! And calling yourself or anybody a "female actor" will not stop the fact that most female roles on screen are wife, girlfriend, prostitute, rape victim, or murder victim. We need to see more fleshed-out female characters, not linguistic nonsense.

Ruby Kleinschmidt

Many here seem to believe the word 'actress' is a new term. It is not any newer then the term actor. Back in the time if Shakespeare all roles male and female were played by men becuae women were not allowed to be on the stage. But once women were allowed to portray roles the term actress was born.

Chanel Ashley

Interesting, they used the word "actress" during the Academy Awards - don't recall hearing anyone mention "female actor" - my recollection is Julianne Moore won the "Best Actress Award".

Xan Aspero

They must have recently in the last 2 years or just this year changed it back to actor and actress. I remember growing up as a kid and always hearing actor/actress.

Ardua de Potomac

It was "Best Female Actor" at the Screen Actor Guild Awards, so I was bracing for Academy Awards to do the same. Glad the Oscars kept "Best Actress"!!!! So elegant.

Chanel Ashley

Exactly, Ardua, "So elegant."

Jeff Guenther

Exactly, Sean. Just like firemen, policemen, draftsmen, where the male plural includes the female.

Ruby Kleinschmidt

Sorry - both Sean and Jeff I believe you are wrong. The generic term for actors /actresses is PLAYERS.

Jeff Guenther

"Players" works for me, too, Ruby. It's historically apt, and I prefer it to "actors," though not to actresses, where apropos.

Ruby Kleinschmidt

I have seen the credits in old movies listed as 'players'.

Jeff Guenther

Player is synonymous with actor, except no gender is associated with it. It goes back a long way; appears in Shakespeare in the famous line, "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players..."

Ruby Kleinschmidt

I simply mean as women we should honor our gender and not be so PC as to not identify as women. The word actress in no means diminishes who we are, in fact honors us as women.

Holly McCravy

Actor sounds so non-gender

Veleka Gray

But it's not. It's masculine.

Jeff Guenther

Yes, but it's only masculine because of the existence of the word "actress." "Rotor," "motor," "thinker," "solicitor," "baker," "propeller," and "capacitor" have no gender, but are of the same neuter "one who/that which" word type. In itself, "actor" has no gender in English.

Ruby Kleinschmidt

Why don't we just take all female words out of the language. Instead of aunt we could have female uncles, instead of mom we could be female dads...... makes as much sense to me as the term female actor.

Veleka Gray

Jeff, try calling your waitress "waiter." Try calling a princess "prince." Some of us are delighted to be women and want you to appreciate and respect that. Some of us embrace "Vive la différence"! Ergo, we have actress, goddess, hostess, huntress, Jewess, lioness, murderess, paintress, priestess, princess, procuress, prophetess, quakeress, sculptress, shepherdess, songstress, soceress, stewardess, votaress, waitress, wardress, etc. Anyone think of more -ess words?

LindaAnn Loschiavo

The word for "maiden" in German is masculine.

Veleka Gray

What's that word?

Jeff Guenther

Veleka, you make my point once again. "Waiter" is only masculine because the feminine word, "waitress" exists; -er is not a gender specific ending in itself. We have words for female waiter and all those other jobs. Let's take advantage of them to avoid ambiguity. And the German word for maiden is Mädchen, but it's neuter, not masculine. Frau, woman, is masculine. The Latin words for farmer and sailor are feminine, so not every word for a historically male profession is automatically masculine in every language.

Ardua de Potomac

"Frau" is masculine? Wow, that's mind-blowing! Linguistically, English has taken words from a variety of sources--primarily (I believe) Dutch, German, French, and Latin. Thus we sometimes have seemingly non-gendered terms, like "teacher", and at other times gendered terms like actor/actress. Perhaps that is why some people feel we should have a non-gendered term for EVERYTHING, but it just didn't work that way for some of the words that were brought into the English language. Thus we had stewardesses and stewards, until they changed it to "flight attendant", but it would have been ugly and silly to say "female steward". So, to get back to what I was trying to say earlier, I think it makes sense that acting has awards for different genders, and it's fine to have different names for different genders. When I hear actresses call themselves "actor", it just makes me cringe: it's linguistically ignorant, and it's masculinizing themselves in a misguided attempt to be gender-neutral. If they really believe in gender neutrality in acting, they should campaign to abolish the gender distinctions in the awards. Just have one "best actor" a year--see how that flies! Not helpful, right? So let's let women be women!

Jeff Guenther

I think the consensus is in favor of actress, Ardua. People altering traditional expressions in pursuit of political aims is just tedious and too PC.

Chanel Ashley

Perhaps we could explore a radical new way of thinking, why not allow one to choose whether they are "actor" or "actress" - 45 comments arguing for and/or against seems rather futile from where I sit - KISS - I prefer "actress", you may prefer something different, does it warrant profound discussion?

Veleka Gray

I wonder how Venus would like being called a god? Or a waitress a waiter? Or a princess a prince? Why not acknowledge the difference? A rose by any other name, and all that.

Eric McGill

Veleka Gray, If God's existed, I don't think they would care what they were called. Why would a God have human attributes. There are servers, not waiters/waitress. Professionally speaking I feel professional actors should include women and men. What do you call a female judge? Police officer? Business Owner. I feel "ress" is limiting and is used to separate and treat the sexes differently not equally.

Suzanne Bronson

This conversation is way off topic and stupid.

Veleka Gray

Why would a God have human attributes? Read the Old Testament or Bulfinch's Mythology. We are made in the image of God. And I am okay with a woman not liking the -ess, but why any man would deny our fabulous difference from men is incomprehensible.

Ardua de Potomac

People are certainly free to refer to themselves however they want, but what I was trying to discuss was the the awards shows this year. And so I ask again, are women who want to be called "actor" willing to compete in only one category: "Best Actor"? I have not yet seen one woman say she is willing to do that. Most professions do not have gender-specific awards. Why does acting? If there are good reasons for the distinction, let's keep it. I think there are good reasons and we should embrace the distinction because I think a female performance is radically different from a male performance most of the time. We don't want our surgeons or police officers or flight attendants to perform differently based on their personal genders, but we DO want players to, right?

Veleka Gray

In the music industry, too, females and males are awarded separately.

Jennifer Austin

Let's not pretend the awards are actually based on merit, shall we? The awards shows cater to the audiences, and they want to see actors (I am using the term to include all who act regardless of gender) more than they want to listen to all the other people it takes to make a movie. So, the categories are divided up for actors based on both gender and relevance in the script, whereas every other category is theoretically open to both genders (though realistically heavily dominated by white men) so that the home audience isn't bored by their speeches. My point being, the award shows shouldn't be the reason we choose to use a term or not: they are massive publicity stunts, which I will happily engage in if my career goes that way. But they're not some reliable indicator of what's important in the process. I'd rather be called an actor, but that probably stems more from my time in the military than anything else. I hate PC euphemisms, but more than that I hate to be called a term that calls me out for my gender when the term's meaning has nothing to do with gender. I was not an "Airwoman," I was an Airman. I wasn't a Sergeantess, I was a Sergeant. I am not an "actress," I am an actor. I am one who acts. I won't correct people who call use actress to describe themselves or others--though heaven help the idiots who call me "Airwoman"--but it is my choice to self-identify how I choose, and I am an actor.

Veleka Gray

Because I was a Latin major in college, I am fascinated by word origins, and today I took the time to look up all the words I could find for women that end in -ess. I found 67. They are: Abbess Actress Adulteress Adventuress Ancestress Arbitress Archduchess Authoress Aviatress Baroness Canoness Cateress Coheiress Cohostess Conductress Countess Deaconess Demigoddess Demoness Druidess Duchess Editress Eldress Electress Empress Enchantress Giantess Goddess Governess Heiress Hostess Huntress Inheritress Laundress Lioness Marchioness Mistress Murderess Nabobess Ogress Oratress Patroness Peeress Poetess Porteress Portress Priestess Princess Prioress Procuress Protectress Pythoness Seeress Shepherdess Sorceress Sultaness Temptress Tigress Titaness Traitress Tutoress Victress Viscountess Votaress Votress Waitress Wardress Sadly, many of them have been eliminated by the men who write dictionaries and by the women who don't want to be identified as women.

Veleka Gray

And there are 33 words still extant of another suffix that designates females.

Ardua de Potomac

So, Jennifer, if you are nominated for "Best Actress", are you going to decline the nomination because the term does not represent what you are?

Jennifer Austin

Since I already stated that 1) I see awards shows as publicity stunts devoid of any real meaning, 2) I would participate as it is part of the job if that's in my future, and 3) I don't correct people who call me an actress, I think the answer to your question should be obvious.

Ardua de Potomac

So you find it sexist but you would be willing to do it for your job? No, that's not obvious to me--it seems pretty convoluted. Why compromise your beliefs for something "devoid of any real meaning"? If you feel as strongly about that as you did about not being called an "airwoman", you should reject it. My suspicion is that you do NOT feel as strongly about it--and few women do, since I have never seen anybody reject the "Best Actress" award.

Ruby Kleinschmidt

If award shows are devoid of all meaning why is it the performers, writers, directors etc. chosen as "best"____ are paid more after they have won?

Jennifer Austin

I never said it was sexist, and I never said I felt as strongly about "actress" as I do "Airwoman;" I in fact stated the exact opposite. Ardua, you started this conversation saying you didn't understand why any would choose to call themselves an actor rather than actress. "What is wrong with that word? I honestly don't get it" I responded, and now you're trolling me. Way to champion female solidarity. Obviously you don't care to "get it," you only care to bludgeon those who disagree with you. Ruby, you're right, they're not devoid of all meaning- there is a great deal of commercial meaning tied up in them, which is why there's massive lobbying among the major players (studios, producers, major actors) for the big awards (Oscars, Golden Globes, Tonys). Please allow me to clarify my opinion: there is very little that has to do with artistic merit when it comes to the major award shows. Again, only my opinion. Being paid more doesn't necessarily mean one is a better artist, nor does it mean the opposite. Being paid more means one is more marketable, for whatever reason. Meryl Streep is one example of an amazing artist who is well-paid, but there are plenty of well-paid actors who are not. I just joined Stage 32 and thought I'd found a community of like-minded people who might be interesting to interact with. Apparently this is my introduction to the Hollywood community I've heard so much (nothing good) about.

Jennifer Austin

One more thought. Do you honestly believe the biggest issue facing women in our industry is what we're called? Actor or actress, we are shown in our underwear constantly and get token roles rather than well-fleshed characters, we're culled by age early, and actRESSES (since it's so important to you) who DO make it big in the industry are pressured to look young by any means necessary or stop getting work? How about the ridiculous lack of work for women of color outside jaded stereotypes? That's getting a little better in tv, but film is lagging absurdly behind. Since so many of you can't seem to see past the smoke and mirrors of the awards shows, why aren't you angry about the lack of women and the lack of minorities in any category that doesn't have a separate slot for women? Look at the nominations for writer, director, film this year: nearly all white men. But we're squabbling over what women choose to call themselves? Absurd.

Ardua de Potomac

Hm. Well, I guess I just can't follow your logic. And don't blame the "Hollywood community" for my posts--I don't live there. I said in my original post: "What women need in the film business are better characters, better dialogue, and non-exploitative wardrobes...." So clearly you do not follow my logic or already forgot what I said in detail, and we are just not understanding each other. There's no need to claim cyber-bullying about it. Sometimes people just disagree, I did not make a personal attack on you, though you have now made a personal attack on me.

Dee Chu

When I was on the board of directors of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment in Los Angeles I told actors, "nobody's going to knock on your door with the perfect screenplay. You have to write it yourself." Aloha Doris in Hawaii

Ardua de Potomac

Yes! I gave my niece the book "Girl Director" when she was 10 and interested in acting, and there are probably other encouraging books like that. It did help (with friends) write and film a few things on their own. On a tangential note, I've been watching "Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt" on Netflix, and it's a WONDERFUL example of great female writing for great female acting. Love it!

Veleka Gray

There's a book titled "When Women Call The Shots" by Linda Seger I like a lot.

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