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Masculine connotation?

Oct 21, 1996 07:24 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

As usually happens, posting before reading the digest meant
that there was something in there which related to the point I
was trying to make.  Someone, Bart I think, put `fellowship' in
the same category with `brotherhood' as not being gender
inclusive.  Now, my experience has been that fellowship is
always used in an entirely gender-neutral way, although I admit
that one of the uses of `fellow' is masculine.  But that is
still better than `brother' which is an exclusively masculine
term.  Looking at our unabridged dictionary, I see fellowship
defined as "the companionship of persons on equal and friendly
terms", "the state of being together or sharing...", "intimate
mutual personal intercourse", "a company or group of equals and
associates"..."the quality or state of being comradely" etc.
(these are the leading ones.)  And for `fellow', the first
definition is obsolete, but here goes:
1a. one associated with another as a sharer
b. companion, comrade, associate-- used chiefly of men
c. accomplice, henchman
2a. an equal in rank, power, or character: peer
b. one of a pair
3a. a member of a company or group having common characteristics
or common interests
b. a creature of the same kind
c. a member of an incorporated literary, scientific, and often
professional society
d. (pl.) a social group of youngsters or teenagers or the male
members of such group

So the masculine connotations of fellow are much weaker and
more partial than of brother, and they don't seem to carry over
into the term fellowship at all.  But I yield to Kym, Liesel
and Ann as to whether or not this feels gender-inclusive to

Another advantage, though, is that `fellowship' is a distinctly
non-hierarchical term, whereas with brothers one is always
older, or larger, etc., and Theosophy is full of hierarchical
assumptions that don't translate very well from cosmic
abstractions to human relations.  So there is an egalitarian
message to making fellowship the object, whereas brotherhood
has no such implication.


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