Why the Need for Gender-Specific Pronouns?

In the sentence, “She is intelligent,” why is it important to know that the person is female?

I have a few friends that prefer that I use the “they” pronouns when referring to them. I respect that completely. I have no problem with doing so. But I admit that after a lifetime of not knowing the value of that act of respect, I sometimes forget.

I hope they don’t take my missteps as a sign of disapproval. I’m sure they get it a lot, too. Not that that’s any excuse. All I can say is that I’m forgetful even on a good day, but I sincerely promise to always do my best.

I was thinking about that on the commute to work this morning, and it suddenly occurred to me to wonder why we have gender specific pronouns in the first place. For example, in the sentence, “She is very intelligent,” why is it important for us to know that the person in question is a female? Why does it matter that his shoes are stylish, or her team won the nationals, or that he has a reputation for always being late? Is the quality of intelligence, style, sportsmanship or promptness somehow different based on one’s orientation or perceived genitalia? The concept seems rather absurd when you look at it that way.

Since only extremely misinformed people think that the English language is rigid and does not evolve over time, I suggest that maybe it’s time that we get rid of gender specific pronouns. I believe that only those who are heavily invested in the patriarchy would object, and while it might feel strange to the rest of us at first, I think that within a generation it would become second nature. Meanwhile, it could be seen as some form of cool slang until it became routine.

Personally, I think it would be refreshing to be talked about as an individual rather than as an entity that can or should be prejudged based on some weird form of team membership. I’m sure that if there are any rational flaws in this concept, someone will point them out in the comments section. But as I sit here on the quiet, sunny day, I can’t help thinking that this is an idea whose time has come, and that some day the way we speak now will seem very quaint, indeed.

Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5


Author: The View from a Drawbridge

I have been a bridgetender since 2001, and gives me plenty of time to think and observe the world.

7 thoughts on “Why the Need for Gender-Specific Pronouns?”

  1. People are just now coming around to where I was 40 years back but could not put into words. I’m with you. Keep the gendered ones for fun maybe, and add a few, but neutral should be the default. This will not solve everything–plenty of countries where the language isn’t gendered are still pretty backward abt equality–but still.

  2. Can you imagine law enforcement collecting a suspects description without using gender or race? Gee, they’d have to get more specific in their descriptive terminology and drop the stereotypes. ”Just the facts, ma’am” … 🙂 Why the ma’am? Why not, ” Just the facts, please”? Was this due to a stereotype that women tend to embellish more than men? Probably. After so many centuries of gender bias it seems ingrained in our DNA and might take centuries to remove it but, we will.

  3. We should also limit use of I, me, mine. Too many of those makes one sound and act egocentric. According to this… https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/ages-stages-all-about-me/ … a healthy individual should have begun the move away from the I, me, mine and onto the we perspective by kindergarten. If someone (do I need to name them?) was nurtured in this manner, we wouldn’t be here now. While using the pronoun “we ” invokes collectivity and shared responsibility, it probably has it’s drawbacks if used too often. Still, it makes one feel included and less alone. After all, we, they, them, us, truly are in all of this together no matter how some deny it.

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