Gender usage question

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Gender usage question

Postby cmcmahon66 on Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:30 am

I am working on an article which includes a step by step process done on a baby. My normal process for child and baby articles is to vary gender (him/her) by paragraph but this seems to be making the directions very confusing. I'm thinking about keeping it all one or the other. Do I add a note before the steps begin to say that I am using one gender signifier for simplicity's sake or is that obvious, and no reader will assume that the steps are only for girl or boy babies?
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Re: Gender usage question

Postby Judith on Mon Nov 03, 2014 1:31 pm

I would say "him or her" or "his or hers" if you want to use a gender reference. Personally I would choose to write "the child" or "your baby" to remain gender neutral.

your child
your children
all children
the child
the children
every child
every baby
every infant
your infant

and on and on
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Re: Gender usage question

Postby Lysis on Mon Nov 03, 2014 5:53 pm

A really long time ago, I remember Ed posting to pick a pronoun and stick with it. Other eds have told me to vary it. I stick with the same one here since I read his comments. Of course, Ed disappeared so we don't know if he (or her? lol) is here anymore!

Had an editor tell me once that whoever told me to stick to one pronoun must have been an old school New York Times editor. lol He hated that I used only one pronoun.
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Re: Gender usage question

Postby cmcmahon66 on Wed Nov 05, 2014 7:42 am

I ended up alternating the pronoun by paragraph and using "your baby" or "the baby" as often as possible. It's in review now, we'll see what happens. I feel strongly about being inclusive because I always hated as a kid that I was supposed to just assume that words like "mankind" and masculine pronouns as the default for everything automatically included me. It felt like a tiny slap every time I read it, and tiny slaps add up over time. So I try hard to be inclusive.
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Re: Gender usage question

Postby gators18 on Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:12 am

I always use the singular they/them/their. The problem with using her is that masculine pronouns have been used as the neutral pronouns for centuries and it often sounds like a feminism protest when a writer uses her when they want a neutral pronoun.

They=everyone gets it and maybe the odd English teacher groans
He=everyone gets that's normal usage and maybe the odd feminist groans
She=a lot of people get it but a lot of people see the unusual usage and say oh, look, the writer is making a statement. Whether or not they agree with that statement, it still distracted from the point of the article.
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Re: Gender usage question

Postby cmcmahon66 on Wed Nov 12, 2014 11:49 am

Shrug. I guess I am a feminist making a statement. Wevs.
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Re: Gender usage question

Postby Lysis on Thu Nov 13, 2014 4:59 pm

gators18 wrote:I always use the singular they/them/their. The problem with using her is that masculine pronouns have been used as the neutral pronouns for centuries and it often sounds like a feminism protest when a writer uses her when they want a neutral pronoun.

They=everyone gets it and maybe the odd English teacher groans
He=everyone gets that's normal usage and maybe the odd feminist groans
She=a lot of people get it but a lot of people see the unusual usage and say oh, look, the writer is making a statement. Whether or not they agree with that statement, it still distracted from the point of the article.


That's funny and I don't understand why people get all weird about it either. I default to "he." I don't get offended whatsoever if the writer defaults to "he," but wow editors and people get their panties in a bunch over it. People need to find better things to worry about.
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