Cristen Conger

Cristen Conger, Podcastrix


This is what a podcastrix looks like. (HowStuffWorks.com)

I'd like to propose a new word: podcastrix.

Podcastrix would be to podcaster what comedienne is to comedian -- the feminine noun form.

Do we need this linguistic clarification? Nah. But it would certainly catch people's attention if I said, "My name is Cristen Conger, and I'm a podcastrix."

As discussed in a recent Columbia Journalism Review post, the English language doesn't contain as many gender-specific nouns as other languages, such as Spanish, but plenty are out there. We've got actresses and benefactresses and mistresses, feminized by the suffix "-ess". But one feminine suffix we don't often use is "-trix". If you want to get gender-specific about it Amelia Earhart was an aviatrix, and Katherine Bigelow is a directrix.

Of course, these feminine nouns are rarely used in everyday vernacular, and the media often favor gender-neutral nouns over gender-specific ones (although to the New York Times, Natalie Portman is an actress, while Sarah Silverman is a comedian).

From a gender-equality stance, this neutering of language is seen as a positive thing, axing what some might consider to be diminutive feminine identifiers. CJR points out that "...these are postfeminist times in many ways, and many people are jettisoning the feminine suffixes entirely..."waitress" is being replaced by "server" or "wait staff," taking the gender politics out for good, except maybe at the corner diner."

But isn't it interesting that probably the most enduring feminine "-trix" noun describes a woman who plays a dominant role in the bedroom? As much as we try to take the gender out of language, the sex still remains it seems.

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