Tag Archives: gender stereotyping

“He or she”

You frequently read or hear sentences such as this:

“When a manager makes a decision, he or she has to consider all the facts.”

This “he or she” (have you ever read “she or he”?) has become the norm of pretend inclusivity.  The writer believes they are parading liberal values and are sending a message of inclusion and harmony.

Yet, the writer is making the exact opposite impact that they are intending to make.  They state that the people of the world are divided into two types: males and females.  Instead of creating a universal connection, they are emphasising a partition.

There has been a healthy and open debate in the UK over the previous two years about gender definition and sexuality.  This debate has challenged the stereotype of humans as being either male or female.

So, if you are broadminded and modern, why stop at only two types of gender identity?  Why not be brave and write:

“When a manager makes a decision, she or he or lesbian or gay or bisexual or transgender or questioning has to consider all the facts”

A second technique employed by authors who wish to parade their liberal attitudes and assert equality, is to switch gender at the start of a chapter or new section.  No, the author does not change gender, I mean the subject they are writing about.

The protagonist – a manager, for example – hitherto masculine, has now changed gender.   This is distracting and irritating.

You hurriedly scan the previous paragraphs, searching for the initial reference to this newly mentioned female.  Have you jumped a page?  Have they undergone an operation or has a miracle occurred?

No, changing the gender of the protagonist is an attempt at inclusion and to provide balance.  Yet, by doing so, they divide the world in two and draw attention to differences – the exact opposite of their original intent.

So, am I going to analyse and criticise, but provide no positive ideas?  Well, how about this:

“When a manager makes a decision, they have to consider all the facts.”