Not an editor, but an editor, not an expert, but an expert, not a professor, but a professor… All these are feminitives — the words by which some women define their professional affiliation. We talked with experts about whether they contradict the rules of the Russian language, whether they can change stereotypes, and why someone in every possible way opposes their use, and someone is in favor with both hands.

I am preparing this text and imagine bloody battles with a proofreader. Most likely, every «editor» and «expert» will have to win back with a fight. It will not be easy to do this, if only because my whole being opposes the use of feminitives.

You may have never heard these words, but supporters of the feminist movement actively insist on their use. From their point of view, the absence of these words in the language directly reflects the patriarchal attitudes of our society, in which women are still in the background. But they seem to still be in the minority.

Many women prefer their specialty to sound masculine: whatever one may say, there is something dismissive in “lecturers” and “accountants”. “Lecturer” and “accountant” sound more weighty, more professional. Anyway, for now.


Anna Potsar, philologist

We are not talking about word formation as such, but about the ideological conflict behind it. The words “author”, “expert” are new in themselves, they are not in dictionaries. The more familiar “author”, “biller”, “editor” are perceived as dismissive. Feminine words formed with the suffix “k” sound more neutral.

But it’s different. Each such word contains a conflict of two ideologies. According to the first, there is a language system in which professional affiliation is indicated by masculine words. Thus, the centuries-old superiority of men is officially fixed.

These are «polyphonic words» — words in which different points of view collide.

The carriers (and for the most part, carriers) of an alternative ideology believe that the female gender has equal rights. They do not just declare, but rather emphasize and “stick out” this moment of confrontation between male and female, declare their rights to an equal status with men.

Thus, the verbal units «author», «editor», «expert» contain this opposition. These are the so-called «polyphonic words» in which different points of view collide. And we can say with confidence that in the foreseeable future they will not be stylistically neutral and will not become normative verbal units.


Olgerta Kharitonova, a feminist philosopher

“Language is the house of being,” said Heidegger, a philosopher, to be more precise, a man. The philosopher Arendt, despite Heidegger’s collaboration with the Nazis, remembers him as one of the most significant philosophers of the XNUMXth century. At the same time, Arendt is also a very significant figure in the political theory, psychology and philosophy of the twentieth century. For nothing that a woman. And when you read The Philosopher Arendt, you won’t think that a woman can be a philosopher. Maybe.

Women in general can be engineers, locksmiths, plumbers, leaders, talents, colonels and pilots.

So, language is the house of being. It is in language that being lives and exists. What is not in the language does not live, it does not exist in life. There is no female professor, because until now in Russian a professor’s wife is a professor’s wife, and the word «professor» does not exist. This means that a woman professor has no place in the language, and therefore, she has no place in life either. And yet I myself know several women who are professors.

Gender stereotypes can be broken only by turning everything upside down, changing the angle of view to the opposite

Feminitives are called upon to eliminate this nonsense and injustice. They are needed to make women visible both in professional fields, and in the field of politics, and in the social field, where a woman is basically a mother, daughter, grandmother, and not the head of the city and not the creator of a new reality.

Gender stereotypes, like any other, can be broken only by turning everything upside down, changing the angle of view to the opposite. Until now, we look at society and life in it through the eyes of men. Feminitives offer to look at the world through the eyes of women. In this case, not only the view changes, but the world as well.


Yulia Zakharova, clinical psychologist

The emergence of feminists is associated with the anti-discrimination movement. It appeared as a counterpoint to the idea of ​​»another, different from me, from the majority — hence, a stranger.» But if at the beginning of this movement the focus was on equality: “All people are equal, the same!” Now it has seriously changed. Considering everyone equal, equating women to men, is also inherently discriminatory. The appearance of feminists reflects the modern slogan of the anti-discrimination movement — «Respect differences!».

Women are different from men, they don’t want to be equated with men. The female sex is neither weak nor equal to the male. He’s just different. This is the essence of gender equality. The understanding of this fact is reflected in the language. It is important for many women today to demonstrate not the equality of a man, but the value of belonging to their gender.

“The unfamiliar often seems ugly”

Suyumbike Davlet-Kildeeva, digital sociologist

Of course, feminists are important. It is very simple: until the phenomenon is fixed in the language, it is not fixed in consciousness either. Many people are bombarded by the word “author”, and usually those who express indignation about it point out that there are a lot of women authors and they have all the rights, but this is not so.

Recently, the poetess Faina Grimberg had a text stating that no matter how hard a woman tries, she still cannot write like a man, because her biological purpose is to give birth not to texts and meanings, but to children. And while this thought resonates in the minds, we need to talk about female authors and writers, so that even the last skeptics have no doubts that a woman can write no worse than a man.

They also often say about feminitives that they sound unusual and disfigure the language, but this is all nonsense. For example, the words “parachute” and “codpiece” seem ugly to me, but this is exactly the same subjective assessment. Unusual often seems ugly, but it’s a matter of time. When these words settle down, they will cease to cut the ear. This is the natural development of language.


Elena Pogrebizhskaya, director

Personally, it cuts my ear. In my opinion, this is a rather stupid reworking of the language. Since in Russian many professions are called in the masculine gender, you guys who write “author” and “lawyer” have too much self-conceit, if you think that since you wrote that, now the Russian language will bend under you and accept this bullshit for the norm.


Lilit Mazikina, writer

I know that many colleagues believe that “journalist” sounds unprofessional and would be better presented by a journalist (and also a poet, because a poetess is such a fake poet), but as a journalist, I consider journalists to have proven their professionalism in the history of the XNUMXth and XNUMXst centuries hardworking pen, keyboard, camera and microphone. So I usually write about myself: a journalist, a writer, a poet. I could be a “poetess”, but I really love polonism and among the new feminists, popular with some feminists, I treat those with “-ka” with the greatest warmth.

If a large number of people introduce some new words into their speech, it means that there is a request for them. How wide it is and how long it lasts is another question. I and many other feminists have a request to make the contribution of women in the profession, to science visible, so that professionalism is not associated only with the masculine gender and, therefore, gender. Language reflects our consciousness and influences consciousness, this is a scientific fact, and I rely on it when I greet visible feminists.


Anna S., journalist

Perhaps, over time, feminitives are integrated into the language, but now it is as much a tribute to political correctness as writing “in Ukraine”. So this is a bit of a bummer for me personally.

It doesn’t offend me in the everyday sense if they write “the doctor prescribed it.” I don’t see any infringement in this, but I agree that it can be inconvenient in terms of choosing verbs in the right gender if the character is unfamiliar. For example, «lawyer Kravchuk» — how to understand if it is he or she? In general, although I am aware of the plasticity and diversity of language, at the moment, established norms are more important to me.


“I would not want to be called a psychologist, but I don’t mind calling those who insist on it,” Yulia Zakharova says at the end of our conversation. I agree with her. Being an editor is more familiar to me than an editor or an editor. I guess I’m much less of a feminist than I used to think, and much more of a conservative. In a word, there is something to think about.

Leave a Reply