Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Policemales and Policefemales

More and more, as I watch my local news, I hear local police referring to people as males and females instead of men and women, and I don't know why. Is The suspect is a black male in his thirties somehow less racist-sounding than The suspect is a black man in his thirties? Perhaps they think that if they use such scientific jargon, they will appear more clinical and disinterested?

That now makes me wonder how long male and female have been used as nouns. I expect them more often to appear as adjectives, which means that these news reports leave me hanging. "Police tazered a thirty-year-old male who refused to comply with police orders." A 30-year-old male what, exactly? Of course, it's clear that they mean a "male human," otherwise known as a "man," but a dropped noun could easily make the story more interesting and laughable.

"Police today were forced to tazer a 30-year-old cheddar wheel who refused to comply with police orders. The cheese was then taken to a local hospital where it was tested for drugs and subsequently digested by the nursing staff."

1 comment:

marniekm said...

Ah, Andy. You made my morning with this one! Now I'll be thinking of cheese wheels every time I hear 'male' and 'female'.