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Gender Neutrality

March 6, 2009

This morning, I read an article from CNN about creating a gender neutral pronoun in grammar. To illustrate what I mean, let’s take the example used in the article. Everyone loves his mother.” Some consider it sexist to use the pronoun “his” rather than one that’s neutral to include women as well. After all, I’m sure all women love their mothers too.

One suggestion is to use the “his or her,” but that’s very burdensome to type or write that all the time in lieu of something that’s gender neutral. The problem with using the pronoun “they” is that “they” is plural, which means that word refers to a more than one person.

What prompted the writing of this article? The microblogging website Twitter is what stirred this recent debate.

I found it interesting to learn that pronouns are known as function words “which connect words and phrases but do not have ‘content’ meanings,” and that it’s difficult for the mind to incorporate changes to them.

On social networking websites, I noticed that “they” is often used as something that is gender neutral. As stated earlier, I do not like this substitution because “they” is plural and I have qualms about using it to refer to one person. Perhaps the social networking websites such as Facebook or Myspace can take advantage of knowing the person’s gender; since it is given in the set up area, the programmers can create code that extracts that specific information and specify the correct gender.

As for every day writing, if it is indeed difficult to change these function words, I would prefer to assign either “his” or “her” even at the expense of sexism in order to have correct grammar. πŸ™‚

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