…to be More Accurate About it
(c) 2017, Davd
Over and over, in the April financial advice and reports, we read about “the taxman”. In a recent post on the CBC Website, the phrasing was “annual date with the tax man” (which is a poor use of ‘date’, since neither personal encounter nor any prospect of romance, be involved… as well as because men are now a shrinking minority in the tax bureaucracy.)
CBC seems to be Feminist enough where the interests and “image” of women can be advanced (which too often, means those of men can be denigrated.) When women have to carry some of the opprobrium, though, the national media empire seems comfortable with using language—like “tax man”—that they would call archaic and patriarchal if the generic male [pro]nouns were being praised.
Last year, some of the examples were:
Panama Papers only a glimpse into ‘astonishing’ wealth stashed offshore says ” … the financial elite exploit a secretive system to manoeuvre wealth anonymously and ensure the taxman doesn’t take his
And again, in a “story” headed: “Uber drivers often unaware of tax obligations”, the text includes “In the eyes of the taxman, each one is an independent contractor” and ” automotive expenses are often subject to the taxman’s microscope.”
There’s a factual error in those “tax man” references, reflecting a quiet, massive social change since the one and two word phrase “taxman” came into common use. The great majority of financial personnel and Government officials now being women, it seems most appropriate to use the female pronouns when the gender of the official is unknown.
CBC’s Neil MacDonald has noticed:
“According to Statistics Canada, women not only comprise 71 per cent of Canada’s 4.1 million public sector jobs at all levels of government, but “gender parity now exists in the public sector with respect to women’s representation in leadership positions.”
So when you encounter a bureaucrat whose name you don’t know, whose gender you don’t know, the odds are better than 2:1 and approaching 3:1, that she is a woman.
(Reflect a moment on that last sentence: To end it “… that they are a woman” would be bad logic and bad grammar. The gender neutral plural does not work for good writing nor good speech; rather, against them. No gender neutral singular pronouns have come in to replace “him”: Many people would quite resent being called “it”, and no animate substitute has shown up in frequent use.
The majority presence of women workers in desk jobs (and MacDonald has probably understated it, because statistics are from the past and women have steadily increased their representation in government jobs all this century) gives cause for a change in the generic singular human pronoun, to “she”. Not for loggers and garbage collectors, but for workers in clean advantaged jobs like—those in Canada Revenue Agency.
“It’s high time and past due” (to combine two folk usages too old to call slang) that gynocentrism be extended to the unpopular functions of government.
From now on, it’s more accurate to refer to the tax woman…
… except she might demand you call her a Lady.