Wikipedia:Use feminine pronouns
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|This page in a nutshell: Instead of following the age-old tradition of using masculine pronouns to refer to abstract persons, be bold and use feminine pronouns instead.|
|Note: The MOS:GNL guideline (which overrules this essay) advises the following: |
Use gender-neutral language – avoiding the generic he and generic she, for example – where this can be done with clarity and precision.
For centuries, Western English writing has tended to use masculine pronouns to refer to abstract persons. If the writing is about professions or leadership positions, the use of masculine pronouns becomes even more pervasive. Doctors, lawyers, professors, dentists, CEOs, conductors and computer engineers are uniformly referred to using he and his.
Typical printed passages in books and magazines might read: "When a surgeon is preparing for his patient, he meets with a consulting physician to seek his views..." In a music context, we often read "When a record producer is getting ready for a session, he typically meets with the head sound engineer to get his ideas about the mix..." In a movie context, we often read "When a film director is about to shoot a movie, he confers with the cinematographer to get his perspectives on the lighting conditions..."
Interestingly, if examples are describing hypothetical professionals who work in men-dominated fields with other individuals who are seen as holding women-dominated occupations, then we may see some feminine pronouns get used: "When a Chief Executive Officer needs to speak with his administrative assistant, he calls her on the Intercom..." or "When a surgeon needs a scalpel, he motions to the nurse so that she can pass him the implement..." or "When a Dean has made a decision about which professors he will interview, he typically informs the receptionist by e-mail so that she can schedule the meetings..."
- "When a surgeon is preparing for her patient, she meets with a consulting physician to seek her views..."
- "When a record producer is getting ready for a session, she typically meets with the head sound engineer to seek her ideas about the mix..."
- "When a film director is about to shoot a movie, she confers with the cinematographer to get her perspectives on the lighting conditions..."
- "When a computer engineer needs to get input on hardware specifications, she typically calls a computer science professor to get her suggestions..."
- "When a heavy metal guitarist is preparing to play a guitar solo during a recording, she will often ask the record producer for her suggestions on how to build the solo..."
- When a conductor is leading an orchestra, she gives instructions on musical phrasing to the bass trombone player so that she will know how to play the solos...
Alternating between generic he and she
An example from Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Taylor v. Sturgell, 2008:
A nonparty is bound by a judgment if she "assume(d) control" over the litigation in which that judgment was rendered. ... Because such a person has had "the opportunity to present proofs and arguments," he has already "had his day in court" even though he was not a formal party to the litigation.
- Writing about Women in Wikipedia (essay)
- Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Gender-neutral language (MOS:GNL, guideline)
- Wikipedia:Gender-neutral language (essay)
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Taylor v. Sturgell, 12 June 2008.