Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The search for a genderless pronoun

I don't think I have written about this yet, but is definitely something that has irked me for quite a long time. The expectation that we use "he or she" when writing formal papers is not only cumbersome, but just plain exhausting. People don't talk that way, why should we write that way?

Some of my LGBT friends in college regularly used the term "ze" to represent "he or she," but what about his and hers, him and her? You can't just slap a "z" at the beginning of those words to make them gender neutral. Why can't we just use "it"? Because its "dehumanizing"?

Apparently, this debate has even reached the realms of Twitter. Like Internet junkies really care about grammar and proper usage.

But...surprise surprise! A New York Times article reveals that "they" (even used as a singular) once stood in for the gender neutral pronoun. That was before a WOMAN school teacher in the 1700's decided that "he" was more suitable because it was universally seen as singular.

I suppose it goes along with the whole "mankind" and "history" tradition. It does sound a little ridiculous even now that feminists talk about "womankind" and "herstory." Just give it a break, will you?

So the battle continues.

1 comment:

  1. I love knowing some particular usage is right, but choosing "he" doesn't cut it. "Ze?" Doesn't work for me.


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