Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The BS of PC on the low low

Okay, so the husband has read a few of my books... well... one, and all of my short stories. He keeps bringing up the fact that in the great mega-city he works in, (he's a super geek monkey boy for an eccentric billionaire,) that secretaries are not called "secretaries" because it's too gender-associated and the title is not politically correct. He keeps telling me I have to use the term "admin" or "administrative assistant" instead. I hear the word "admin," and I think of a system admin, though. I've been out of the corporate world since B was born. (Since then, my life has become the generic suburbanite epitome of home-makerness. Sigh. I miss the rat race. I once was a manager over opticals... in my pre-B and T days.)

So, is the husband right? Do I need to take out the word "secretary" with brutal prejudice? Does that mean using the word "secretarial" is also verboten?

I was just noticing that Diana has on her blog that using the phrase "fiction novel" is redundant because novels are always fiction. While I knew that somewhere in the back of my mind... I would bet bucks that I've still used the term.

Writing can be such a pain at time. Did you know the seasons aren't capitalized? I totally think they should be. I like to capitalize things, though. I also like to use the word "smelt" in place of "smelled," but it's funny later when I catch it, so that's okay. I used to accidently replace out "my" with "me" all the time too, so I was in permanent pirate mode. I've stopped that.

Anyway... anyone want to weigh in on the secretary/admin debate? In general, PC crap annoys me, but sometimes it can't be helped. Besides, I've heard that this was also because admins aren't limited to secretarial work alone, so it wasn't accurately portraying the job title anymore. That's okay for a reason. If it's just because of the female connotations, I'll find it obnoxious. Afterall, there used to be a piece of furniture called a secretary... and a bird. Plus, the bulk of secretaries at one point were even male before the feminist revolution. Okay, I'm rambling.

What's the word, peeps? Are there other words that are now pitfalls due to political correctness...? --Besides the phrase "Indian giver" which we've never managed to adequately find a substitute word for in my opinion.


  1. Oh boy, this is a tough one. Personally, I like the word "secretary". Admin/admin assistant is so, so, I don't even know how I feel about it other than...impersonal. "Secretary" seems to have so much more personality. I'm sorry, I just hate all the pc nonsense when it's not really a life or death situation. eek, does that sound bad? But, I guess it really depends on the context in which you are using the word. I'd keep secretary, if it was me.

  2. Keep secretary. It flows better! It's all about flow and not jarring a reader out of the story. I would be a thousand per cent jarred if every time the secretary came in, it was the admin assistant.

    Fiction novel. (Aww, you mentioned me in your blog!) I first read that on an agent's blog. Apparently it's one of those things in a query that sets some agents' teeth on edge, or alerts them of our rookie status, although I'm sure some don't care. I imagine it looks like, "A HEART ONCE BROKEN is my 75,000 word fiction novel about blabbity blab blab." So after I saw this on a few agents' blogs I remember cringing. Didn't I send a query with "YA fiction novel" in my intro paragraph? Yes, yes I did, ha!

  3. You know, Diana, up until I started getting into writing as a profession rather than a hobby... I thought "novel" was a synonym for "book." I'm curious what the average "joe" thinks. I would bet that non-publishing industry folks don't think of novels as being only fiction. (I have a strong desire to do a poll....)

  4. Personally, I think secretary is fine. I'm with you, when someone says "admin" I don't think of a secretary, really. I think it's a use your own judgement sort of deal =]