Gendered pronouns

Right now, I’m in the thick of some pretty serious editing. In fact, I’m working on tidying up a feature for issue 1.2. However, in that tidying, I got to noticing something. When constructing a sentence describing the actions or thoughts of some indeterminate person, we hesitate to use gendered pronouns, for fear of appearing biased. Often, this results in using the term “they,” which isn’t actually strictly gramatically correct. So what can we do to be both gramatically correct and relatively non-biased?

The answer that I’m currently adopting is to match the gender of the pronoun to the gender of the writer. So that means male writer, male pronouns; female writer, female pronouns. If we’ve got a lady writer, her example people will also be ladies. By the same token, gentleman writers get gentleman example people.

Fingers crossed, we’ll get a nice mix of gendered pronouns, reflecting the nice mix of writers we feature.

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2 Responses to Gendered pronouns

  1. Kevin Brubeck Unhammer says:

    “isn’t actually strictly grammatically correct” — what’s your empirical basis for that statement? I’d advise you to read

  2. gingercoons says:

    Granted on many of those points. As with many things taken to be grammatical rules, change is in the wind. And I’ve certainly used many of those points before to fight for things others told me were grammatically “wrong.” My grade five teacher might tell you, if she had the opportunity, about my vehement support of the use of the word “but” at the beginning of sentences.

    So let’s say this: from a purely arbitrary editorial viewpoint, if it feels wrong in a given circumstance to use a plural pronoun of indeterminate gender, then I’ll be using the singular pronoun corresponding to the self-identified gender of the author of the article in which it appears. This will mostly happen in cases in which we’re talking about the case of a specific, imaginary user.

    There. That should hedge just about all possible bets.

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