The InsidHer’s Guide to Life: I’m So Over Her

ColumnEnglish doesn’t have the feminine case. Stop trying to add it to the rotation.

“These ‘Influence-Hers’ have considerably larger social networks — both online and offline…Besides having a larger social circle, they also tend to be more actively engaged with brands. The Influence-Hers are 38% more likely than typical women to ‘like’ brands on Facebook or to provide personal information to brands they like on Facebook.” – via AdvertisingAge

This morning, like many mornings, I was awakened by the sound of the coffee makeHer. I hopped into the showHer to freshen up before heading to work at EcoSalon headquartHers, where we create and distribute content for smart, stylish women who are early adoptHers and influenceHers. There, I scan the blogs by blogHers and also chat with photograpHers, social media marketHers (you know, like diggHers and redditHers) and a programmHer. Just kidding! Girls aren’t programmers.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of awkward insinuations of the feminine where it isn’t required, I will fear no condescension, for you, dear reader who does not need an “h” added, are with me. My pen and my words, they comfort me, and scare the shit out of idiots. I prepare a post in the presence of trolls; you anoint me with tweets; my inbox overflows.

But where was I.

Gendered nouns like actress and editrix have been around for eons/however long Urban Dictionary says they’ve been around. What I find useless is the her habit: that clever habit of marketers to conceive of terms like “influence-Her”, as seen in the above noted social media study that finds influential women are influential. (In seriousness, the study is actually quite interesting for this nugget: the more influential you are, the more likely you are to be influenced. Ahem, ladies. They are so on to us.)

Is the her habit in language used by media and marketers trivial or cynical? My personal reaction to the “Influence-Her” term was more amusement than bemusement, but I do wonder if calling out the girly, particularly by the types of people who are apt to describe women as targets and think in terms of segments, age and income demographics, widgets and sectors, is exactly benign.

I’m similarly perplexed by the Her that seems to have started it all, in the new media era at least, Blogher claims to be “ the Web’s leading guide to the hottest news and trends among women in social media” and home of  “The best writing by women online” in a variety of categories. I can’t agree with any of that, but with millions of readers and bloggers (bloghers?), popular conferences and plenty of Pagerank, Blogher is indisputably popular and clearly wields considerable influence in its sphere. But that’s the problem: its sphere. Referring to oneself as a blogher feels awfully close to barefoot, pregnant and mommyblogging in the kitchen. In a word: marginalized. And primed for market. Why are we segregating suffixes?

To this I say: Nobody puts Baby in a cornHer.

I’ll take the wider sphere. The one where sometimes I am a woman, sometimes a boss, sometimes a friend, sometimes a lover, sometimes a daughter, sometimes a colleague. The one where I love children, animals and ruffles no more nor less than any man. (Possibly less on the ruffles.) The one where we all dwell, where we all have skin in it, where the grandest game is actually in play.

The one where I am just and always me, Sara Ost, at large, no if’s, and’s or her’s about it.

This is the latest installment in your editor’s column, The Insider’s Guide to Life, exploring topics such as media, culture, sex, politics, and anything else. Cheers and spellcheck!

Image: Temari 09