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Help me decide between being Sexist or PC, Current or Traditional?
April 14, 2009 3:39 PM   Subscribe

To 'ress or not to 'ress, that is my question

My elderly Aunt has been a doll doctor and dealing antiques (her specialty is steamer trunks) for as long as I can remember. I am finally getting around to making her a business sign that she can display at various shows around the country.
At the top will be her business name, and the main body of the sign will be a draft horse pulling an image of a trunk, with a man at the reigns. At the bottom I want to put her name followed by either Proprietor or Proprietress.
And that is my dilemma.
I think Proprietress is out dated and a little sexist, but the sign I am making is very old fashioned and done is sepia tones.
So, what to do? Proprietor or Proprietress?
The sign is a surprise, so I can't ask Auntie. So I'm leaving it up to you'se guys. Majority wins.
posted by Acacia to Society & Culture (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I think if you're making an old-fashioned sign (why not have a lady at the reins, BTW? A bonnetted, crinolined lady?) that using old-fashioned verbiage is just fine.

And I am Rush Limbaugh's worst nightmare when it comes to this kind of thing.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:41 PM on April 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Proprietress. It's not sexist if you're deliberately doing a pastiche.
posted by nasreddin at 3:42 PM on April 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sidhdevil the born genius. I love it! gonna do it -thanks!
posted by Acacia at 3:43 PM on April 14, 2009


Another vote for proprietress.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:46 PM on April 14, 2009


If you want to dodge the issue, you could go with 'Prop.,' or even 'Owner' or 'Founder' or something.

Also: I know you can't ask her. But, if you had to guess, which one do you think she'd prefer?
posted by box at 3:55 PM on April 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's customary to abbreviate it: Prop.
posted by JimN2TAW at 3:56 PM on April 14, 2009


Box- I know what she would say-- "Oh, my dearest, whatever you want is perfectly fine with me."
posted by Acacia at 4:05 PM on April 14, 2009


'Dearest?' Sounds like a proprietress to me.
posted by box at 4:08 PM on April 14, 2009 [13 favorites]


Proprietress. And Wiktionary thinks it's a word.
posted by katrielalex at 4:18 PM on April 14, 2009


Raging, radical feminist vote for proprietress.
posted by saucysault at 4:21 PM on April 14, 2009


Voting for Proprietress in this case, for the retro appeal. But I agree with Sidhedevil;, speaking as a buyer of antiques, I'd be charmed by the bonneted lady at the reigns.
posted by Morrigan at 4:39 PM on April 14, 2009


Love proprietress for an antiquey theme.
Also, raging and radical feminist here (ok, maybe not raging, but at least raising a fist occasionally).
posted by j at 4:47 PM on April 14, 2009


Another femininst for "Proprietress" ~And Sidhedevil's idea of putting a lady at the reigns.

What a thoughtful gift. I'm sure your Aunt will love it.
posted by applemeat at 4:52 PM on April 14, 2009


I like Proprietress, but my vote is for Proprietrix; the meaning is the same, but it gets a kick out of smacking sexism around.
posted by zerokey at 4:56 PM on April 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


Zerokev made me laugh.

Another vote here for Proprietress. I am, however stealing Proprietrix for whatever my next endeavor may be.
posted by dejah420 at 5:03 PM on April 14, 2009


Oh yeah...Sidhedevil's idea...totally go with that!
posted by dejah420 at 5:03 PM on April 14, 2009


Reins.
posted by eritain at 5:11 PM on April 14, 2009


Proprietress.

Reins.
True, but a bit blunt, no?

posted by djgh at 5:25 PM on April 14, 2009


Following zerokey, I think it is honestly worth looking into whether the actual old-timey was proprietress (like actress) or proprietrix (like aviatrix).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:34 PM on April 14, 2009


If you use Proprietrix and use Sidhedevil's great idea, she'll have to be carrying a riding crop, of course.

Hello. I will be your slow-witted commenter this evening.

ROU_Xenophobe, according to Dictionary.com, the use of "proprietrix" originated around 1830-1840. That's pretty old-timey. Other references to the -trix suffix suggest Middle English origins, which would be a bit too old-timey, I imagine.
posted by zerokey at 6:09 PM on April 14, 2009


In case it helps, the OED has both "proprietress" and "proprietrix" in continuous usage, with numerous examples, since the late 17th century, and it doesn't give any reason to prefer one form over the other.
posted by RogerB at 6:36 PM on April 14, 2009


Proprietrix makes me think of dominatrix. Not quite the connotation you're going for, I would think.
posted by MadamM at 6:43 PM on April 14, 2009


Proprietrix makes me think of dominatrix. Not quite the connotation you're going for

That depends on how sassy your entrepreneurial auntie is.

Count this third feminist vote for 'ress.
posted by cranberrymonger at 6:51 PM on April 14, 2009


Another feminist vote for 'ress. I wear a lot of pink. Let's hear it for tongue-in-cheek and knowing use of language.
posted by Miko at 8:07 PM on April 14, 2009


Another chick for proprietress. Absolutely.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:07 PM on April 14, 2009


'Dearest?' Sounds like a proprietress to me.

[chuckle] Agree. From another strident feminist.
posted by desuetude at 8:09 PM on April 14, 2009


Well, there ya go, then. 'ress 'tis.
Thanks all--Mefi group hug!
posted by Acacia at 8:33 PM on April 14, 2009


Old-fashioned, maybe, but that's your goal with the whole sign.

But sexist? She is a woman, right? Is it discriminatory to point out her gender? It would draw attention to the fact that she's a woman (which does make it sexist), and I'd see that as an advantage.
posted by thebazilist at 9:11 PM on April 14, 2009


When the days were old and the nights were bold, and men thought they ran everything:
The women were tough as nails, and did just about everything, including driving a team.

Just to confirm, with embellishment, what others have said.
posted by Goofyy at 11:28 PM on April 14, 2009


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