12 November 2011

Twelve: Gender and Rubbing

I have noticed a strange phenomenon in American popular culture, specifically on television and in the movies. They seem to have forgotten that there is a gender-specific term for a man who massages people. On several occasions now, I have heard the term "masseuse" applied to a man, usually in the semi-homophobic situation where the man who is about to get a massage balks because the "masseuse" is a man.

The term, people, is "masseur."

I would pretend that I am down with the evolution of the language, but someone who knows me might call me on that. It probably sticks in my craw because I'm a tad fervent about the proper use of French and the masseuse title being applied to a male-identified practitioner of the art of massage just doesn't respect the origin of the word.

With this degree of care in speech, is it any wonder that people are getting so many other basic terms wrong in such a public and unapologetic way?

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