Gendered language in examples

Language is often gendered. It’s absurdly gendered. We’re eroding that a little in some places, but that’s incredibly slow.

One suggestion I’ve heard regarding gender neutral language is that authors (for instance, of philosophical articles) use their own pronouns and gender when referring to hypothetical people. This seems fair on the face of it, yes? It’s a simple rule, too.

Problem. Many fields are male-dominated. If we add that rule for fairness, then the literature will feel just as male dominated as the collection of authors. It explicitly extends the unfairness in the field to the literature under the guise of fairness.

Instead, let authors write about people of a gender that is not their own. It’s not nearly as useful to have good representation in a field’s literature than to have good representation in the authorship in that field, of course. However, it will at least get men used to hearing about women and thinking of them. It would be a tiny thing to help reduce the amount of sexism in the field. Hopefully.

In reality, this would rather easily identify an author’s gender, which is undesirable in a number of situations. A reasonably anonymous policy would use something unrelated — for instance, the entire field might rotate between masculine, feminine, and agender / genderqueer examples on an annual basis.

Anyway, this is a tiny proposal that has no way of getting any traction, but whatevs.

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