What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)

My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor and proofreader, and occasional indexer. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: landondemand@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Men (and, oh yeah, women)

Two books just came through the bunker that raised issues of sex, or gender. From what I understand, “sex” is the preferred nomenclature for what I thought used to refer to "gender." I'm talking here not really about men and women, the original title of the post, but about men-without-women and women-not-without-men.

Book 1

A legal guide. The book was written entirely in the male gender, except for the occasional example. In running text, every plaintiff, defendant, judge, arbitrator, and innocent bystander was referred to as “he.”

I changed as much as I could, given the time and money constraints. Sometimes I see books like this from much older writers, but this author graduated law school in the late eighties. No evidence of a prior career. Younger than me, which is getting older all the time.

I always hate woefully underbidding jobs, but I might have learned something on this one. The rate sheet might soon reflect my charging more for not keying in editorial changes rather than less. That’s another blog post.

Book 2

A history of a women’s club in a major metropolitan area. Not until the very late chapters does a reader see any club member referred to as other than, for example, Mrs. John Smith. Often with such books, at least by the 1970s the author is referring to the women by their own first names.

This approach has always stunned me, and invariably the author is a woman. I mean, this isn’t a history of the Gotham Wives’ Club. These women are making positive contributions to society and living lives of their own, and I don’t need to know their husbands’ names.

One could say, “Finding out those names would take a lot of research.”

Yes, it would. Tell that to the author of the 900-page family history I recently finished, who managed to track wives’ first names back 300 and 400 years. And not refer to them as Mrs. Caleb Smith.


moi said...

Even when I used to typeset wedding invitations, way back in the late '80s, early '90s, the parents of the bride and the groom didn't do the Mr. and Mrs. John Smith thing. It was always John and Mary Smith . . . It sounds so chattel-ey to my ears otherwise.

So, what do you do? Make a note of it and leave it in the hands of the editor/publisher, I guess, huh?

czar said...

Moi: In this case I couldn't do much about the copy, as I was indexing the book and the club itself has commissioned and approved the text. But in indexing I did everything I could to make sure the women's names that were available appeared as prominently as I could make them, given the text.

But, yes, if this book came to me for copyediting, I'd be writing an impassioned query letter on the subject to anyone who would listen. I've done it before, probably to no avail. These kinds of things are foregone conclusions.

darkfoam said...

That gives me an idea. Next time I address an envelope I will write the couple's name as Mrs and Mr Jane Doe.
Thanks for participating in the haiku challenge. I enjoyed visiting your YouTube links. Although being familiar with Cage, his silent symphony was new to me.

czar said...

@Foam: Thanks for stopping by. Mrs. and Mr. Jane Doe would be a nice touch. Glad you enjoyed the links.