Re: Gender bias (was Evolving language or laziness)

Subject: Re: Gender bias (was Evolving language or laziness)
From: Tracy Boyington <trlyboyi -at- GENESIS -dot- ODVTE -dot- STATE -dot- OK -dot- US>
Date: Tue, 19 Mar 1996 09:02:12 +0000

Tim Altom wrote:

> I must disagree with your logic. In fact, using "he" doesn't distract most
> readers, because it's a default condition, not an abnormality.

Tim, how many people have to tell you they find this distracting (or
even offensive) before you believe them?

> Why should I have to contort sentences built with Anglo-Saxon
> words that have long and honorable pedigrees to satisfy a minority's
> irritation?

You've missed the point. Language is changing. Nobody's asking you
to forge a path through the wilderness, just to walk down the path
that's being cleared. For example, I recently noticed that Pampers
commercials say "pamper your baby...keep them healthy and dry." Why
do you suppose they did that? Do you think most new mothers are
"rabid" feminists who "loathe" men? And I'm not saying we should
learn grammar from commercials. I'm just saying this is an example of
how the language is changing around you.

> Why would I be accused of insulting women by simply
> referring to generic humankind as "he"?

Tim, just because *you* don't think this is a problem doesn't mean
it's not a problem.

When I read something that refers to me as "he," I'm not insulted.
But I *am* distracted. And I think "What old fart wrote this? Is
the whole company's thinking this outdated?" You may think your
customers don't care. You've probably even talked to 2 or 3 who
don't. And they may not. Yet. But you are fighting a losing battle.


Tracy Boyington trlyboyi -at- genesis -dot- odvte -dot- state -dot- ok -dot- us
Technical Communication Specialist
Oklahoma Department of Vocational & Technical Education
Stillwater, Oklahoma

I never express opinions, but if one slips out, it belongs to me and not ODVTE.

"I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper."
-- Steve Martin

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