actor or actress ?

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rocstar

Senior Member
México - Español-
Hi..I have always known that to refer to a woman that acts I have to use the term actress and for a man, actor...But I was told by a teacher that went to an English teachers' convention, that in one of the talks given by some speaker, he said that there was an intention of changing those terms so there would be only one..for example Doctor describes men or women, so the term for both -actor , actress- would be ACTOR...Is this really happening ?..Does anyone know ?
 
  • stezza

    Banned
    english
    In my part of the world, the suffix -ess/ress is not in common usage and is seen as rather a sexist marker.

    A woman is an actor, not an actress

    A female waiter is precisely that, a waiter, not a waitress.

    These gender-marking suffixes are generally seen as quite old-fashioned in most of the anglophonic world.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    Well, the Oscars are still awarded to the Leading Actress and Supporting Actress, so I wouldn't go so far as to call the term completely outdated or universally offensive. Nonetheless, I'm sure plenty of female state and film actors prefer "actor."
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    In my part of the world, the suffix -ess/ress is not in common usage and is seen as rather a sexist marker.

    A woman is an actor, not an actress

    A female waiter is precisely that, a waiter, not a waitress.

    These gender-marking suffixes are generally seen as quite old-fashioned in most of the anglophonic world.
    waitress is alive and well in this little backwater of the Anglosphere.

    Job adverisements usually say waiter/waitress in Australia.
    Sometimes you'll see "bar and wait staff".
    It would be seen as excluding women if the ad just said "waiter".

    I've heard young female thespians call themselves "actors", but I've never heard a female call herself a "waiter".

    Strangely enough, the Australian Broadcasting Commission [ABC] which is usually tiresomely PC, still refers to female comedy performers as "comediennes".
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hi..I have always known that to refer to a woman that acts I have to use the term actress and for a man, actor...But I was told by a teacher that went to an English teachers' convention, that in one of the talks given by some speaker, he said that there was an intention of changing those terms so there would be only one..for example Doctor describes men or women, so the term for both -actor , actress- would be ACTOR...Is this really happening ?..Does anyone know ?
    The Women's Lib movement is keen to abolish all terms, like Chairman, which suggest that a function is usually performed by a man. Now it's politically correct to speak of a Chair, even though some people continue to insist that that's only something to sit on. Where there are well-established bipolar words like actor and actress, duke and duchess, it seems perverse to strive for a single sexually ambiguous term. That's not to say that people won't do it.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    We had a long conversation once about the waiter/waitress topic - which naturally spread to many other similar terms - in:
    waiter, waitress, or server

    The way around some of these is to adopt an alternative term - so stewards and stewardesses become flight attendants; barmen and barmaids become bar staff. You may not like this, but it happens.
    It seems to me that actor/actress is a little different.
    For terms like actor, author, poet, ... the approach has been different. Here the pressure is to adopt the un-modified for for both sexes.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    In my part of the world, the suffix -ess/ress is not in common usage and is seen as rather a sexist marker.

    A woman is an actor, not an actress

    A female waiter is precisely that, a waiter, not a waitress.

    These gender-marking suffixes are generally seen as quite old-fashioned in most of the anglophonic world.
    The "front page" of the Los Angeles Times - www.latimes.com - for 28 August 2007 has an article:
    Film loses its feminine touch
    While the movie industry struggles, top actresses head to TV.
    Photos: Film to TV actresses


    Seems like the principal newspaper in Tinsel Town thinks "actress" still cuts it.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The "front page" of the Los Angeles Times - www.latimes.com - for 28 August 2007 has an article:
    Film loses its feminine touch
    While the movie industry struggles, top actresses head to TV.
    Photos: Film to TV actresses

    Seems like the principal newspaper in Tinsel Town thinks "actress" still cuts it.
    I asked an actress friend, when she was here on holiday in August, if she minded being referred to as an actor. She said it was now normal in the theatre to talk about the actors, to refer to both sexes, which is very much what others have been saying.
     

    Suehil

    Medemod
    British English
    One good reason for retaining 'actress' and 'actor' is that the jobs are not interchangeable. When you advertise for someone to wait at table it doesn't matter if you end up with a waiter or a waitress, but if you are casting the part of, for instance, Cleopatra or Queen Victoria you will most definitely not be looking for someone with a deep voice and a beard.
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    In her weekly online column of practical advice for actors, Blair Glaser writes:

    "Both terms are still widely used and accepted but some women performers feel the term actress diminishes them somehow, and others feel it separates them from male actors in a positive way. The term can simply be useful for clarification when female artists have androgynous names like Pat or Sean -- or Blair. "Actress" for me, can carry a subtle regal, dramatic and sometimes sexy flair that the term "actor" does not inspire. "Actor" feels to me more serious, and that can be nice, too -- although I don't buy that it is more professional." "Actor" vs. "Actress", Self Esteem
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    We may have the usual two conversations going on here concurrently--
    1)What is common usage;
    2)What do we think it ought to be.

    For the first, I read and hear an increasing use of actor for female performers, but actress is still widely used in this small corner of the anglophone world, and among its
    proponents are some female actors, a.k.a. actresses. Other actresses prefer to be called actors. This is all in flux, and not yet resolved. I suspect both terms will continue in widespread use for quite some time.
     

    The Slippery Slide

    Senior Member
    British English
    I've been an actor, and have many female friends who are actors. There's a strong feeling in the profession that the term actress is outdated, and some women I know are strongly opposed to the gender demarkation. In light of that, it makes sense to refer to everyone as actor. It has nothing to do with any "Women's Lib Movement" trying to abolish sexist terms, and is simply a matter of individuals feeling more comfortable with the word 'actor'. The current convention is to only use 'actress' when referring to awards such as 'Best Supporting Actress'.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I've been an actor, and have many female friends who are actors. There's a strong feeling in the profession that the term actress is outdated, and some women I know are strongly opposed to the gender demarkation. In light of that, it makes sense to refer to everyone as actor. It has nothing to do with any "Women's Lib Movement" trying to abolish sexist terms, and is simply a matter of individuals feeling more comfortable with the word 'actor'. The current convention is to only use 'actress' when referring to awards such as 'Best Supporting Actress'.
    I have friends who are actresses, and they have no such "strong feelings" at all regarding "gender demarcation". I will also note that whether one uses the term "actor" or "actress", a role is usually very specifically for a male or female performer, and one look is usually sufficient to "demarcate" the sex (the endless modern use of "gender" in not merely incorrect, but rather prissy, don't you think?) of the thespian in question.
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    Hi..I have always known that to refer to a woman that acts I have to use the term actress and for a man, actor...But I was told by a teacher that went to an English teachers' convention, that in one of the talks given by some speaker, he said that there was an intention of changing those terms so there would be only one..for example Doctor describes men or women, so the term for both -actor , actress- would be ACTOR...Is this really happening ?..Does anyone know ?
    Hmmmmm......I don't know any actors or actresses, so I wouldn't know :D

    This sounds to me like the kind of talk about changing the subject "history" to "herstory", as a female, I have no objections, but I wonder when it's really going to happen.........

    As far as I am concerned, "actresses" are alive and well in my world.
     

    ollin69

    Senior Member
    Mexico, Spanish
    Hello:

    I've heard many actresses refer to themselves as "actors", and also when somebody else speaks of them. Is it the same as to say "actress/actresses"? Is it OK when using the term colloquially?

    Thanks for enlightening me...
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hello, Ollin. I still hear many using "actress" here in the U.S. without seeming to offend people. This is an interesting question because other nouns such as "poetess" are definitely not OK. I hope many other forum members of both genders respond to your thread so that you'll get a wide variety of opinions on the topic. I'd say that "actress" is still acceptable in American English.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I hear a lot of actresses referring to themselves as actors these days -- enough that I've noticed what I think is a trend. I imagine that it's an attempt to level the playing stage with male actors and not have the obvious female distinction (segregation/compartmentalization) made. I'm fine with it, for whatever that's worth.

    So I think you can use actor and actress as you like -- but if you're interviewing a woman who has identified herself as an actor, it would be wise to remember that.
     

    pktopp

    Member
    English, USA
    I just want to add that I work with many actors every day in the audiobook industry in New York and that ALL the female actors refer to themselves as "actors". In New York, at least, "actress" is rarely used these days.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    For what it's worth, quite often – perhaps most often – headlines and copy are not written by the same person. A journalist/columnist/commentator will write the copy and an editor will create the headline (often for their own amusement, it seems).
     

    twinklestar

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    For what it's worth, quite often – perhaps most often – headlines and copy are not written by the same person. A journalist/columnist/commentator will write the copy and an editor will create the headline (often for their own amusement, it seems).

    Thank you very much! It is interesting to know that many headlines and copy are not written by the same person. :)
     
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