WRITING: GENDER-SPECIFIC PRONOUNS/LANGUAGE September 8, 2017

WRITING:  GENDER-SPECIFIC PRONOUNS/LANGUAGE       September 8, 2017

This special, extra weekly issue has been prompted by extraordinary current eventsIt’s important–please read and share it with others ASAP.

 

Usage of gender-specific pronouns verbally and in writing used to be straightforward and simple:

“he” “him” “his” “boy” “man” “guy” “dude” “male” (and such) → to/about a human male;

“she” “her” “hers” “girl” “woman” “gal” “broad” “female” (and such) → to/about a human female.

 

Nowadays, though, in turns of events that many of us never imagined, genders aren’t always as clear as they used to be; so, pronouns aren’t, either.  If you confuse us with a gender change or with how you identify with gender, we can’t always be sure how to address you.

 

Recently, here in the good ol’ USA, some people, even children, have gotten into legal trouble after using incorrect gender-related pronouns.  What?  Are you as shocked as I?  What’s next–being arrested for using incorrect grammar in any form?  News flash: If that’s the case, we need a million new jails, yesterday.

 

People who complain about incorrect usage of gender-related pronouns should do a reality check.  Pronto!  They’ll have to get over themselves and be objective.  With gender-change surgeries going on, and a person looking like one gender but in physical/private reality being the other, the reality for the rest of us is that we’re not always sure what to say and we can’t all be expected to know.  Young children are especially confused or unknowing; in many cases, explaining a gender change to a child is NOT an option.

 

Whether we jump to conclusions or proceed with caution, we could still say the ‘wrong’ pronoun or something else that unintentionally might offend.  Complainants who can be objective, after all, have to realize that if they were in our shoes, they probably would have as much trouble with such situations and pronouns as we’re having.

 

The rest of us will do our best as tactfully and courteously as we can.  So, complainants and others, including educators and law-enforcement people, should be reasonable and logical when our pronouns aren’t quite on target—or they might be the ones who get in trouble.

 

Traditionally, “it” has been used for animals and inanimate objects, and occasionally in reference to a stranger’s baby whose gender we don’t know (“the baby”).  An older child or adult who identifies with or has changed to the other gender is a human being; using “it” is not an acceptable option for a human.

 

As I see it right now, our only options are:

he (or) she       (based on traditional male or female outward appearance and voice)

that person      (neutral third-person reference, or a similar one)

you                  (when addressing the person of questionable gender)

 

Make sense?  We’re doing the best that we can in difficult or confusing circumstances and within reasonable freedom of speech; so, cut us some slack.  Only bullies and other mean people might say something truly mean or inappropriate to someone who has undergone a gender change; those could be the people to complain against and to educate first.

 

Grammar is a tough topic; surprisingly, gender can be, too.  It all comes down to education, courtesy, and logic.  Objectivity, patience, compassion, and calm go a long way, too.  So, take a deep breath and let it out slowly.  Let’s all be courteous and respond within reason.

 

Thank you for reading.  Please share this post with others.

 

Many lessons and bits of advice in this writing/grammar series have been taken from Writestyle’s online campus.

 

P.S.  It’s International Literacy Day!  Read a book, share a book, write a book!

 

 

 

 

Vickie L. Weaver

Vickie L. Weaver

Owner at Writestyle
Writing has been an important talent and part of my life since I was a child.Professionally, after decades of employment for others, I founded Writestyle in 1996 to provide writing, editing, proofreading, training, and more to clients worldwide (www.writestyle.com).Clients often call my work “magic.”I have written and/or edited for “Coexistence Magazine” (national), for “Ohio Magazine,” and for various newspapers.In addition, I have edited or contributed to the writing of numerous books.Personally, I have written in various genres.I have always composed poetry; as such, I have won awards and publication for some of my poems, and I am compiling a book of my poetry.One of my children’s books is set for publication.With my second husband, family and friends in Ohio, I enjoy music and dance, aid charitable causes, and strive for beauty and harmony in life.
Vickie L. Weaver

Latest posts by Vickie L. Weaver (see all)

Leave a Reply

© 2015 Writestyle. All Rights Reserved.