All seem to agree that forms like woman speaker are popping up more often. He even quotes Robin Lakoff on the notion of markedness, with the illustration of the increasing rarity of female professor as the demographics of the academy have changed.
Kudos, anonymous reader; even if he backslides in the future, I think you've nailed a trend here! On a cold sunny morning, I'm looking forward to the trees turning green and seeing Safire talk to Elly van Gelderen and Jan Terje Faarlund for insights into historical Germanic syntax, Eric Baković and Adam Ussishkin on OT phonology and morphology, Dennis Preston and Kirk Hazen for the latest on American dialects. Yeah, right.
*Obligatory note on errors:
- When gender was on the rise in phrases like 'gender gap', "I stood up for the plain old Anglo-Saxon word sex." Even many not familiar with the history of English will suspect that this is wrong. It's from Latin sexus, and appears first in the Middle English period, upwards of a millennium after the Angles and Saxons arrived (for those of us who still tend to accept that story over a newer one). Gender came into English at about the same time, it looks like.
- Robin Lakoff's The Language War was surely a notable scholarly contribution, but her true classic was Language and Woman's Place.
- He really blows the punch line at the end: "feminists everywhere have begun to turn on the word female. What's next? Womanism." Perhaps those committed to femalism will make that switch. (Google it — it's a small world, it looks like.) Feminism is pretty distant from female.