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← Let's take the gender out of "God"

Steven Mading's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by Steven Mading

Step 1: Alter the English language such that there's a first person singular gender neutral pronoun that does not give a connotation of non-personhood. The only gender-neutral pronoun is "it", which doesn't work when applied to a thinking person-like entity (even a fictional one like God).

Until you do that, calls to remove gender assumptions from a person will fail. You must use "he" or "she" due to the way English is structured. It's this flaw inherent in the language that causes people to give gender to unknown or unsexed beings, NOT sexism or anything like that.

Try writing a user manual for a piece of software sometime without gendering your example user and you'll run into this frustration with the language very quickly. "First, the user must click the 'gear' icon, and then on the next screen ...uh.. he or she... will be given an option to select the following options..." You find yourself very quickly getting annoyed at the clunky wordiness that results from trying to avoid gendering your first person singular pronouns.

There are some who still today make the claim that the pronoun "he" is actually for both sexes, but that's not really how it's used anymore. It's a bit like suggesting that people use "thee" or "thou". (Besides, the reasons behind why "he" is used in unknown gender cases is itself due to a sexist history. It's because male-ness was the presumed default image people had in their heads in all statements and there was no reason to bother explicitly mentioning otherwise unless you were dealing with the "weird" case of talking about a female.)

Mon, 19 Mar 2012 06:28:00 UTC | #928555