torsdag, november 17, 2005

Another view about gender-inclusive language

I am old enough to have been taught that the masculine third person singular was a gender-inclusive form. The issue was raised, and unambiguously answered. There are problems with it, to put it mildly, chief among them that masculine-only is not "gender neutral," and therefore fails in its manifest purpose. That this was its manifest purpose, however, whatever its degrading latencies, is undeniable.

I had a brace of women's studies students one year, however, who were deliberately taught that the masculine-only third person pronoun was intentionally not gender-inclusive. These students therefore refused to read an article from the 60s - on music at college parties, for heaven's sake. I explained the custom of the time, admitted its undeniable irritation, and asked that they make the appropriate allowances, holding their nose if need be. Again they refused, telling me that this was a clear case of intentionally sexist, gender exclusive usage.

I asked where they got this idea. They told me their WS teacher said that the masculine third person singular was never considered gender neutral. I asked if this instructor was old enough to remember this first-hand? No, but she, quote, "just knew."

At this I exploded, and called her a goddamn liar. They ran to her, and petitioned the chair not to have to read the article (on the basis that it was insulting to them as women). I prepared a simple affidavit, to be distributed and signed by all faculty over 50: "I was taught that third person masculine usage is not gender inclusive." I said that if a single faculty member signed it, I would resign, and return my salary for the year. That was the end of that.

[and this was written by MW, in a discussion in another forum]

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