Wednesday, June 18, 2008


miembra: member

yes, yes, I know, the Real Academia does not recognize this as a real word. and what do you know, there are hardly any women in the RAE. but doesn't it seem ridiculous to you to interpret for a large women's organization and have to call them all miembros? the joys of patriarchal language. well apparently I'm not the only one who'se annoyed. recently the Spanish Minister of Equality (how cool is it that there's a ministry like that?) used 'miembros y miembras' in a speech and set off a whole discussion about this word in Spain.

how we say the world shapes how we see the world shapes how we can be in the world.


Fawdawi said...

We don't need to follow the RAE as they are comfortably seated in their plushy armchairs at Madrid. Those ancient guys, FAR AWAY from the Caracas suburbs or the mexican popular food markets or the high-class neighbourhoods in Santiago or Colombia's Pacific coast inhabitants speeches, TRY to teach us how to use or not the words.

We don't need the RAE as it's part of the spanish monarchy and it's an imperialist entity too.

I accept MIEMBRA. Do they dislike this word? Me la sudan! Who cares about them?

Andrea Parra said...

La verdad es que pienso que la palabra miembro es de género neutro y es correcto decir un miembro o una miembro o las y los miembros.

Anonymous said...

Creo que se utiliza más...

"Ella es miembra del equipo"


"Ella es una miembra del equipo"

O sea que "una" adelante de miembra, para mi no queda bien, y nunca lo escuché. En cambio el primer ejemplo, sí. Aunque lo más correcto y neutral es "miembro".

Anonymous said...

The DRAE flags this word as "com." (common gender), meaning one can use "la miembro" or "el miembro."

It is not the only Spanish word ending in "o" that has a common gender (e.g., "la modelo" and "la testigo").

As to using a noun ending in "o" to designate the feminine gender, it wouldn't be an exception, as we already have those (e.g., "la libido" and "la mano").


Anonymous said...

Hi Sara,

I'm not sure I'm convinced by the term "miembra".

True, "miembro" is a term ending it "o" applied to both males and females. But there are many words in Spanish which end in -a- that are neutral gender words. I'm not sure that we have to say "artísto", "idealísto", "jurísto" to avoid sexism towards men, for example, and in the same sense, I don't think that "miembro" is necessary sexist towards women.

If it were, it could be suggested that assigning gender to words at all is patriarchial and sexist, but changing this would require fundamental, wide-reaching changes to the language which may not be feasible or practical.

That being said, language use evolves similarly to lifeforms...some deviation from the norm springs up and it either sticks or doesn't. If it sticks, then I won't oppose it out of religious dogma. But I think its justification is misguided.

(I also personally wonder if the new Ministra said "miembra" just to get publicity for her brand-new ministry. No press is bad press, as they say.) Just a thought.

Take care :-)

Sara Koopman said...

or maybe it IS best to leave them all ending in o: here's one that's been making the rounds on email:



Zorro: Héroe justiciero
Zorra: Puta

Perro: Mejor amigo del hombre
Perra : Puta

Aventurero: Osado, valiente, arriesgado.
Aventurera: Puta

Cualquier: Fulano, Mengano, Zultano
Cualquiera: Puta

Callejero: De la calle, urbano.
Callejera: Puta

Hombrezuelo: Hombrecillo, mínimo, pequeño
Mujerzuela: Puta

Hombre público: Personaje prominente. FuncionarioPpúblico.
Mujer pública: Puta

Hombre de la vida: Hombre de gran experiencia.
Mujer de la vida: Puta

Puto: Enojado
Puta: Puta