S/he, "you," etc.

Subject: S/he, "you," etc.
From: Gwen Barnes <gwen -dot- barnes -at- MUSTANG -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 1995 01:22:57 GMT

-> I'm amazed and delighted at how this thread has played out. There's one
-> problem, though. We need to make sure that we're all tolerant of views
-> different from our own. If we aren't careful, people who don't espouse
-> the majority point of view will get ticked off, fail to express their
-> views, and maybe even leave the list. We are all poorer for this. We can
-> disagree respectfully and learn something from each other.

I attemted, once, to use less of the "generic" pronoun "HE" in a manual,
and make more reference to "SHE" in about equal portion, in parts of the
book where I needed to use third person instead of second person.

That didn't make it past the first draft -- the owner of the company
vetoed it, and I think the reasons were quite valid in retrospect.
It was awkward and obvious, and would have appeared to our customers
that we were agenda-driven instead of customer-driven. It also suggested
that we did not credit our customers to have enough intelligence to
understand "he" as a generic pronoun rather than a gender-specific one.

I have also, in the past, run across instances where female readers were
offended to see "she" rather than "he" in a discussion (even though
that was exactly opposite to the writer's intention), because it
implied, to them, that the procedure itself was less important, and the
use of "she" implied that it was "women's work". Go figger.

When our customers are ready for gender-inclusive instead of
gender-generic language, I'm sure the bottom line will reflect that
change in opinion. We do software that makes it extremely easy for
customers to let us know exactly what's on their minds, so I don't
really think they'll hold back on this issue as opposed to any of the
others of concern to them when the time is ripe for change.

Gwen gwen -dot- barnes -at- mustang -dot- com
http://www.mustang.com ftp://ftp.mustang.com
MSI * Connecting the world 805-873-2500

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