Falling Leaves: the Ardes blog

Problematic Wording

Ray Drainville

So there’s a tiny tempest at Zeldman.com. Jeffrey Zeldman rightfully condemns the “Pottermore” website for providing a retrograde experience. What’s the problem?

It’s certainly not the sentiment: the site is pretty crap. And it certainly isn’t because J.K. Rowling is under attack: a billionaire can defend herself many times over. Plus, I don’t like the Potter books. For me, it’s simply the title of the article: “Maybe stick to novels, dear”. That chummy “dear” is a standard form of condescension. It’s frequently used to belittle women & their contributions. I mean, come on: Rowling didn’t code the site herself, so why imply that she’s some rank amateur who decided to conquer the world of web development?

Now, do I think Zeldman is sexist? No. Do I think he fell into a pretty common social trap? Yes. I’ll accept that he attempted to make a joke: but it fell flat. We all misspeak; we all say things that, with further consideration, we don’t mean. That’s why I think it’s sad to see him stand his ground. It’s Luther’s “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise”—for a joke.

Update: There’s going to be a rally of feminism in Sheffield soon. I was struck by the poster: