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Writing Tip Two: Avoid the Masculine Bias

Posted on May 17, 2014 at 9:54 PM


Many people continue to write with a masculine bias. For example, they will write "A man must learn to assert himself in all things," when such a statement certainly applies to women as well. Or they might write of "man" or "mankind," when to be respectfully inclusive, they could just as easily write of humanity or humankind.

Moreover, many people continue to assume that only men are to be found in certain professions. That is to say, they might write of salesmen rather than salespersons, chairmen as opposed to chairpersons (or even chairs), mailmen instead of mail carriers, firemen instead of firefighters, etc.

Do not be reluctant to use "he or she," 'his or hers" and "him or her." (For example, "A person is likely to be hurt in certain instances. He or she must take certain precautions.") Or you might use "she or he" or "hers or his," whereas "her or him" does not flow easily.

Furthermore, a person could use the word "one" to be gender neutral. For example, "one must always do one's best," rather than "a man must always do his best."

Using a masculine bias is disrespectful toward girls and women. It is popular today for many men to complain about alleged "political correctness" whenever they want to defend sexist language and practices. However, what I am advocating is simply respect for girls and women, and inclusivity. Always recognize the common moral decency of simple respect, and strive to be accurate, fair and inclusive. That is not political, but it is morally correct.

Categories: WRITING TIPS

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