Is there an example of a word like “un(a) máquina”, but in reverse, where both genders can be used for a woman but only the masculine can be used for a man?
So what we had there was a feminine word that acquired a masculine version when used as adjective for a man. So what we’re looking for is a masculine word that only gets a feminine version when used as adjective for a woman.
Since most of the world has been run by and for man for centuries, there are probably thousands of examples. But, for many people that don’t like change or people standing in their lawns, changing into the feminine versions is seen as pandering and signs of impeding apocalyptic doom.
For instance, being a genius:
Javi, ¡eres un genio!
Javi, you’re a genius!
Traditionally, if you were to say this to a woman:
Ana, ¡eres un genio!
Ana, you’re a genius!
It was not that much a problem until recently because women were confined to their kitchens so they had no chances to prove themselves geniuses. Now fortunately that changed and using un for Ana sounds a bit weird. So some people say:
Ana, ¡eres una genio!
And I’ve started to occasionally come across some full on feminizations like:
Ana, ¡eres una genia!
But it’s a slow process.
Many female versions of words are still not accepted by parts of the society, words like soldada, jueza, médica, miembra, etc… which are considered innecessary by some, who argue we can just use the male version of the words with the feminine article and be done with it.
My stance is clear: the only reason these words did not exist already is because the concept did not exist. So now that the concept exists, the word has no reason not to exist too. Visibility is key in social progress. Forcing to keep using the word in masculine is granting that, by default, you consider this a man thing. Funnily, 85% of all nurses are women and nobody complains about the word enfermero.
And now that you got me in a rant, if the majority of the group I’m referring or addressing to is women, by the gods I swear I will use the feminine plural, and you can send your derelict language conventions to hell.
Originally published in Talk like a Spaniard.