Re: Be a Better Writer -- GENDER NEUTRAL LANGUAGE
Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 6:35 pm
Allison, I have no problems with any of your answers, and your note about the redundancy in the last example is legitimate, too. Well done!
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It does: the correct fill-in-the-blank here is the COMMON “him.”glorybee wrote: • English doesn’t really have a gender neutral pronoun that works in sentences like this:
If anybody wants to know where the surprise party is, tell ____________ to text me.
Or you could just write: The club elected a president, but I don't know who.swfdoc1 wrote:
Here’s an example of the second category: The club elected a president, but I don’t know what his name is.
Again, neither of the pronouns in question is masculine; they are both common. For folks who have the liberty to use the common gender, it’s important to do it correctly. Maybe this will help.
And this is what many anti-gender neutral folks would say. It's purely a matter of opinion in this case, and you should feel free to use 'mankind' if that feels better to you. You'll want to keep in mind both your audience and your publisher. If your audience consists of many people of a younger generation to whom 'mankind' seems to omit half of the world's population, you might consider an alternative word. Similarly, if your publisher prefers "humanity" or some other synonym--you know what to do. But if 'mankind' is what you're ultimately comfortable with, go with that.WriterFearNot wrote:Jan, thank you for this lesson! I appreciate the perspective, and the instruction. But since I'm a bit of a rebel, too, I skipped doing the homework. Instead, I have a comment and a question.
Comment: It seems like a shame to convert "mankind" into a gender neutral term. Isn't mankind, like, iconic or something. And aren't women already included in this term? I tried researching the definition but (ugh) there are two opposing definitions. One includes men and women and one includes only men. In my humble opinion, the sentence "All of mankind is waiting for peace on earth" can't be improved by any replacement of the word 'mankind'. Neither of the gender neutral alternatives come close to conveying the power of that original sentence.
You could use 'dockworker' or 'stevedore.'WriterFearNot wrote:Having said that, in all of the other examples given, I can see the improvement with the gender neutral alternatives. I'll definitely be referring back to this lesson when I'm writing nonfiction.
My question: I know Longshoremen who are men and women. But I have no idea what to call the women (besides, you know... mankind). Can you tell me what to call Longshoremen who are women? I've seen "Longshorewomen" used, but that sounds funny to me.
I'll just mention #3 and #6 here--the others are just fine.everlearning wrote:
1. …to boldly go where no man has gone before
…to boldly go where no one has gone before
2. A two-year-old usually clings to his mother in unfamiliar places.
Two-year-olds usually cling to their mothers in unfamiliar places.
3. The stewardess wrote a complaint letter to the chairman of the union.
A letter of complaint was written to the head of the union by a flight attendant.
4. The student should raise his hand if he needs to leave the room during the test.
Students should raise their hands when needing to leave the room during the test.
5. The good news of the gospel is for all mankind.
The good news of the gospel is for everyone.
6. Anyone who is unhappy with his study partner should notify the professor about him or her.
Those who are unhappy with a study partner should notify their professor.
"You'll want to keep in mind both your audience and your publisher."glorybee wrote: And this is what many anti-gender neutral folks would say. It's purely a matter of opinion in this case, and you should feel free to use 'mankind' if that feels better to you. You'll want to keep in mind both your audience and your publisher. If your audience consists of many people of a younger generation to whom 'mankind' seems to omit half of the world's population, you might consider an alternative word. Similarly, if your publisher prefers "humanity" or some other synonym--you know what to do. But if 'mankind' is what you're ultimately comfortable with, go with that.
This is precisely why I said that this lesson didn't apply to fiction. I can't conceive of a publisher of fiction who would prefer anachronistic use of gender neutral terms for titles of characters or designations of their jobs. It would be wrong on many levels, just as you've said here.Cinnamon Bear wrote: I know this thread pertains mainly to nonfiction. But even in fiction, issues might arise. Would some readers, and possibly some publishers, expect that 21st century gender-neutral language be used in retro fiction?
In the 1930s, women were either Mrs. or Miss. As far as I know, the term “Ms.” wasn’t in use. An unmarried woman was “Miss Jones.” In my view, using “Ms. Jones” would be an anachronism.
Likewise, I don’t think anyone in the 1930s would have said, “She is a waiter.” Or “Bette Davis is a famous actor.”
These are some of the logical arguments for gender-neutral language.Cinnamon Bear wrote:Which brings me to my next question. Why should the masculine form be the default? If it is okay to say, “She is a waiter.” why is it not okay to say, “She is a waitress." let alone "He is a waitress”? Doesn’t using the masculine form only, imply that masculine is better?
And why is “Mrs. Jones” considered okay but not “Miss Jones”? Doesn’t omitting the term "Miss" but not "Mrs." imply that marriage is the preferred state for a woman?
Perhaps you can help me out a bit with this. I'm not sure that I'm seeing where the hypocrisy is. By your own statement, using only the masculine form implies that masculine is better, and using a woman's title to indicate her marital status implies that marriage is superior to not-marriage. Gender neutral language gets rid of such implications--in my view, that's the exact opposite of hypocrisy. So I'm not clear where you're seeing hypocrisy--can you clarify at all?Cinnamon Bear wrote:I guess what I am saying is, there seems to be a lot of hypocrisy in 21st century gender-neutral language.
Presented without comment (I just used a Google search, since this is not an area that I'm expert in):KatKane wrote:I do have a question around Scripture and gender neutral language. Are some translations more gender neutral in their language than others?
I came up with the same answers to the questions as everyone else. Thanks for a very thought-provoking lesson.