A reader pointed out that my usage of “fellows” could be viewed as both archaic and sexist.
Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! (Oh, my achin’ ASS!)
First, let’s us all ignore the frickin’ fact that the English language (at least here on this chunk of dirt betwixt the Atlantic & Pacific coasts north of the Gulf of Mexico (and no, TEXAS does not count. They talk ‘n write “Texican” and that’s different) anyway, we DO NOT have much of a list of gender-neutral words to choose from. So we’re stuck with limited choices.
At least you didn’t write “Your job was to survive and to help them swingin’ dicks to survive.” (That’s Rambo-style. We’ll pass on that.)
So if “fellows” is offensive, and you don’t want to bend and twist and torture the flow of the sentence with awkward word choices, which “fellow captive” is surely awkward and clumsy: “my fellow Americans” has become a face-slap for ridicule; “fellow captives” isn’t far behind.
In the good ol’ John Wayne WW-Deuce Days we’d have said “your job was to survive and help your men survive” … simples. Nobody got their panties in a wad. Everybody cheered. Bad guys died; good men survived.
Notice something odd about tone in here?
fellows = distant, impersonal, them
men = us, close, group
women = prisoners? emotion, anger, war crime
fellow captives = sounds like a social club.
My point: if you’re going to be fearful that every word is going to be examined in the spotlight of political correctness; more specifically, gender words in a language that doesn’t support substitutions without contortions and mutilations… then give it up. They managed to invade the pool hall and shit on all the pool tables. Pick up yer cue and grab yer balls and go home. It just ain’t worth enduring the stench.