Gender-neutral pronouns don’t go far enough; time for this

Gender-neutral pronouns don’t go far enough; time for this

If you thought the crusade to rid the English language of its sexism was new, you thought wrong. (The battle is at least as old as “Ms.” mgazine, which was founded in 1971.) And if you thought the war on language couldn’t get crazier than the invention of gender-neutral pronouns, then you thought wrong again.

An article in The Guardian declares in its headline that “it’s time for gender-free pronouns.” O, brave new world!

Just when you weren’t getting used to ze, sie, e, ou, ve and all the other nonsense syllables that are supposed to supplant he/him/his and she/her/hers, along comes the argument for eliminating sex from language altogether.

The author, Katharine Whitehorn, posits that pronouns that cover those in the throes of “sexual confusion” (her term) don’t go far enough — that “what is urgently needed is another range of pronouns.”

She never gets around to suggesting actual gender-free pronouns, but I’m confident that some Ph.D. candidate somewhere is in the process of devising such a list. And unless I miss my guess, he (or she or it) is the recipient of a grant from the federal government.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer.


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