Originally Posted by pdurrant
English also has several male and female versions of job descriptions or titles:
For some of these, there is a move away from using the female version to using only the male version.
This is especially prevalent in the acting profession.
I'm uncertain as to whether this is a good, bad or neutral thing. But from common politeness, if a female acting professional wants to be called an actor, I'll call her that.
I'm familiar with actresses wanting to be called actors; I think it's pretty widespread in the profession. It is interesting, though, how in a lot of cases the gender specificity is avoided by choosing a new word entirely. I.e., stewardesses and stewards did not default to steward; they became flight attendants. The most popular gender neutral solution for waiter/waitress is "server" (although this seems to only be the common choice among restaurants; I don't know anyone who uses the term casually.)
I assume that there is no "bartendress" because bartenders were traditionally always male. "Stripper" is interesting; even though the term applies to women by default it ends in -er, presumably at a time where -er lost the masculine connotation it once had. The male version is "male stripper" (and this is an area where the distinction is more important than in most other fields): a waiter or a waitress can provide you with equally good service, but I don't think that male and female strippers are interchangeable in that way.
I still occasionally see prosecutrix used, but only in the term "rape prosecutrix," and not to distinguish between male and female prosecuting attorneys.