I received an anonymous question on my formspring account asking me why I never call myself a webmistress whenever I write about myself on certain websites as the one behind the creation of that said website. I’ve always used terms such as “web developer,” “web designer” and on some special occasions, “web ninja,” but never a webmistress. There’s several reasons (and they aren’t feminist by the way) as to why I would never call myself a webmistress. There’s a lot of some connotation regarding the “mistress” part that I’m personally uncomfortable with.
The reasons below are not in particular order. I just go down the list as they flow.
- All of the “cool” and “elite” girl web designers/developers always refer to themselves as webmistresses. I beg to differ. In other words, it’s a trendy thing among females who are getting in to the web designing/development field on a hobbyist level vs. those who are getting in to the field as a profession. In general, many of the female hobbyist level designers/developers seem to love showing off their femininity based on the way they design their personal sites/blogs/etc., which is fine, but then referring themselves as a webmistress? Is that even necessary? And going back to the bolded statement, does that mean you have to be “cool” and “elite” to be even consider yourself as a webmistress?
- It’s… feminine! Personally you don’t need to insist to the whole world how “feminine” you are. Just by your name (and your profile photo should you choose to post it on your profile or “about me” page) in itself would already determine how feminine you are. Of course, I really can’t say the same thing for those who have gender identity disorders…
- There are certain… connotations… behind the word “mistress.” I know that “mistress” is the feminine version of “mister”… or was that “master”? Though the first two definitions in the Dictionary (I looked up in The Merriam-Webster Dictionary published in 1998), the third definition sticks out…
A woman other than his wife with whom a married man has sexual relations
When I see that term on different types of literature and documentation, the third definition pops up in my mind first. Is this telling me that webmistresses have sexual relations with (married male) webmasters in addition to getting themselves related to the web designing/development community which, in one way or the other, dominated by males? Not a pretty sight.
- In ties with Reason #3 above, it sounds as if the “webmaster” still dominates over the “webmistress.” It’s the 21st Century, yes, however there are plenty of nations and cultures all around the world that still has the entire male domination society. Even if I live in a culture that is (supposedly) socially equal among all genders, other countries and cultures would still have that old “traditional” mindset regarding gender equality.
I sometimes refer myself as a webmaster because it defines that I am an expert, or rather I have broad knowledge and skills in that said field enough for me to aid others who are just getting in to the said field.
- a male teacher; also: a person holding an academic degree higher than a bachelor’s but lower than a doctor’s.
- one highly skilled (as in an art or profession).
- one having authority or control
- victor, superior
- the commander of a merchant ship
- a youth or boy too young to be called mister — used as a title
- an original from which copies are made.
… along with the verb version of the word…
- to become master of; overcome
- to become skilled or proficient in
- to produce a master recording of (as a musical performance)
Overall in general, the word master refers to every type of human being regardless of background, origin and most of all, gender. Besides, can mistress be a verb like master that reflects the core meanings of that particular term in the first place? I mean does it really matter to people that they need to justify their gender identity and feminity by referring themselves as “webmistresses”? Whatever happened to all persons are created equal?
My name is Adri and I’m a webmaster. You can also refer to me as a web designer, web developer, or a web ninja. :D