More on Gendered Pronouns

I’ve written before about gendered pronouns:

The supposed problem is that the use of “he” or “she” infers sexual attributes to the person in question which they might not like, but this might have more to do with the nature of English grammar than a desire on the part of an ancient system of Patriarchy to impose their characterisations on unwilling recipients.

My guess would be that this is being driven by people who, not having the first clue about languages (including their own), are basing their entire objections on an implication that simply isn’t there.

Commenter dearieme said something similar recently at Tim Worstall’s:

When I was a boy the singular gender-neutral pronouns were he, him, his. The notion that the referent of he, him, his must be male is a modern fallacy, originally American of course.

One only needs to look at how we refer to animals to see that often gendered terms can be gender neutral. We go to feed the ducks even if there are drakes present. We point to a herd of cows even if they’re actually bullocks. A flock of sheep may well contain a ram, but we don’t nit-pick. A herd of deer probably has does mixed in, and a pride of lions usually includes a few lionesses.

It might be time for the post-modern grammar experts at The Times to come out in defence of he, him, and his.


7 thoughts on “More on Gendered Pronouns

  1. You’re only talking about the impersonal pronoun, though. “When a student walks into a room, HE shall take a seat” sounds right to me.

    “Misgendering” refers to the personal pronoun. If a young boy has feminine looks and behavior, and is called “she”, then that must be very stressful for him. It’s akin to bullying. Same with a butch girl. People suffering from gender dysphoria must feel the same way.

  2. It’s akin to bullying.

    Bullying is the use of violence or the credible threat of violence to coerce behaviour in a juvenile environment (amongst adults, we just call it extortion and we prosecute it).

    Calling an effeminate boy a girl or a butch girl a boy is verbal teasing, nothing more, and it’s something every human being needs to learn to slough off in order to function in adult society. Sometimes people are rude. Life’s hard, get a helmet.

    The deliberate conflation of verbal teasing with physical violence by using the term “bullying” for both was an invention of the gay activist lobby, who were trying to get schools to crack down on kids using gay slurs via anti-(real)-bullying initiatives intended to prevent physical violence in schools.

  3. If a young boy has feminine looks and behavior, and is called “she”, then that must be very stressful for him.

    Well, yes. That’s just deliberately nasty behaviour, quite different from using “he” as a singular gender-neutral pronoun.

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