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|"He" will not be generally applied for gender neutrality. Rewriting the sentence is preferred.|
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There has been some debate on this page concerning the use of the pronouns "he", "him", etc for persons whose genders are not specified. The argument against the use of "he" in these situations can be found here. This Wikipedia page details different kinds of gender-neutral pronouns. "(S)he" is one option to be used in these cases, but I don't think it looks very neat or encyclopedic. Others are "singular 'they'", alternation between "he" and "she" throughout paragraphs so as not to seem sexist, and miscellaneous "invented pronouns". I personally prefer the simple "he": it is much less of a hassle to type than "s(he)", and "singular 'they'" doesn't make any sense to me because "they" denotes a plural antecedent. "Invented pronouns" just appear silly to me and no one knows what they mean.
I propose the Manual of Style include a guideline that states that the use of the pronoun "he" for persons of unknown or unspecified gender is preferred. Anyone agree? —Krazykid51 17:38, August 20, 2012 (UTC)
- Oppose. I don't know why but its always bothered me to write things just using he generally. They, or his or her, or a person's can usually be arranged to substitute out just using a pronoun. Writing he is not the most sexist thing in the world, but I suppose its just a little thing that people tend to do that's always bothered me. Truly Ferret 17:45, August 20, 2012 (UTC)
- Talking about the Avatar-verse, it seems there are more females with significant roles and who are part of several groups, especially now in Korra's time. Assuming he is just not a good way to go about things, especially with some positions having known females. PSUAvatar14 Want to have a word? 17:47, August 20, 2012 (UTC)
I oppose the proposal. Using "he" as gender-neutral is kind of outdated. I think "he" should be replaced with "they" or "(s)he".ThebigOfan 18:19, August 20, 2012 (UTC)
- I will take almost any alternative to "they", alternations between paragraphs, and those ridiculous "invented pronouns". Alternations are just too difficult to keep track, and "they", again, denotes a plural antecedent. And to ATFF's opposition of "he" in general - for the situation on Law and order in the World of Avatar, for example, one of the problem areas that this forum is attending is this:
- 1. "The chief takes on the job of interrogation and determines whether or not an accused malefactor should be imprisoned for his actions."
- The word "malefactor" cannot be replaced with a specific character's name, so "he" is used (or if a different consensus is reached, "(s)he", etc).
- 2. "In extreme circumstances, he is also present at court hearings for certain individuals."
- In this sentence, "he" takes the place of "the chief"; just letting everyone know for context/clarity. It would sound repetitive to just put "the chief" again, and because this is a "World of Avatar" article, things should be general and not specific about which chief we're talking about, as doing so would be quite unnecessary.
- And to PSU: Please understand that the use of "he" as a gender-neutral pronoun has nothing to do with male or female, but with how there is no specific gender-neutral pronoun in the English language (unless, of course, you count "it", but that makes me thing "object"). Therefore, the usually male pronoun "he" becomes redefined for the purpose of gender-neutrality.
- BigO: It's not technically outdated, simply not as often used because some people take offense by it. If it could be understood that this use of "he" no longer holds any weight in concern to male or female, no one should be offended at all.
- Perhaps my teachers are old-fashioned, but this is what I've been learning for years. I wish there could be a compromise, but I doubt there can be in this situation. It's one way or the other, but lets just rule out "they", alternating, and invented pronouns for now. —Krazykid51 18:51, August 20, 2012 (UTC)
- But using just "he" seems quite sexist. Again I think we should just use singular they or "(s)he.ThebigOfan 19:06, August 20, 2012 (UTC)
- I find the idea of using "he" being sexist amusing. It's about time we tried to look at things neutrally and see that there is nothing wrong with using a term, as it was mentioned above — from the FreeDictonary.com: "Traditionally the pronouns he, him, and his have been used as generic or gender-neutral singular pronouns" — as it holds neutrality towards a specific gender depending on the context. And an entire article with "they" might be too much, and since here we are with a given proposal for a default, I support it. 23:16, August 20, 2012 (UTC)
- Do you support using(s)he instead of just he.ThebigOfan 23:25, August 20, 2012 (UTC)
I don't think it would look so odd/bad to use gender neutral terms instead of he/him/his. If we took your example above, it could be rewritten to:
"The chief takes on the job of interrogation and determines whether or not an accused malefactor should be imprisoned for his or her actions. In extreme circumstances, the chief is also present at court hearings for certain individuals."
Making it gender neutral hasn't ruined the sentence, it is still readable and still gives the same information as was given before. It might be acceptable to use "he" in this instance to refer to the chief say, but the suggestion that use gives is that the chief has to be male. If that use presents/suggests incorrect or speculative information, then the article suffers as a result. HAMMEROFTHOR 23:40, August 20, 2012 (UTC)
- I don't believe in encouraging writing laziness by legitimising the use of "he" for all these situations, even though it may be traditionally "correct". I describe it as writing laziness because there are so many ways to avoid being trapped into using gender-specific pronouns. In fact, Chicago MOS describes nine:
- Writing sentence in way that omits pronoun
- Repeat orginal noun
- Use plural antecedent
- Use an article instead of personal pronoun
- Use "one"
- Use relative pronoun "who"
- Use imperative mood
- Use "he or she" (sparingly)
- Bloody well rewrite the sentence so none of the above options even need to be considered
- If you spot sentences that should traditionally use the universal "he", practically all of them are rewritable into a structure that doesn't require it. The only thing we should be formalising or adding to our MOS is the encouragement of gender-neutral language. The 888th Avatar (talk) 23:42, August 20, 2012 (UTC)
- The reason I didn't even include the option of "he or she" in my opening proposal is because I know this same issue of "sexism" will arise again if we do decide to put that as a guideline in the MoS. Someone will find a way to get angry at how "he" comes before "she". One of my airhead female classmates did this, so I laughed to myself and thought "Really? Are you really gonna get annoyed at that?"
- If it had to be a choice between "he or she" and "(s)he", I'd choose "(s)he" just to avoid another conflict similar to the one going on right now about the pronoun "he". Despite how much I dislike both of these options, I know that if I see "they" used for singular antecedents, I'll go OCD in my head.
- For consistency purposes, I still think one of these options should be applied in the MoS even with the alternatives 888 has provided. It would appear that most everybody is in consensus against the simple "he", so I now turn my allegiance toward the "(s)he" option, unless there turn out to be more users who share my original opinion. Just, please, lets not use "they". —Krazykid51 13:05, August 21, 2012 (UTC)
- I find it ridiculous that we are fighting for consistency in our other forums, but when it comes to this matter — a matter in which strangely women are offended when the term holds gender neutrality — we start coming up with alternatives. 14:26, August 21, 2012 (UTC)
- I find it ridiculous that you think you can get away with such a flippant characterisation of our principle of "consistency". The kind of "consistency" you claim to represent is the same kind of "consistency" that leads to absurd outcomes, like using only the passive rather than the active voice or making sentences not end with prepositions. There's no reasonable basis for encouraging the use of the universal "he" when so many alternatives are present. Please, show me a sentence that can't be rewritten to convey the same meaning with one of the ways Chicago suggests. Then I'll be perfectly happy to concede adding such a section to the MOS. The 888th Avatar (talk) 15:06, August 21, 2012 (UTC)
- I'll show you a sentence when you give me a reason of why we should write a longer one instead. 18:44, August 21, 2012 (UTC)
Um... I do hope everyone understands that all I really wanted with this proposal was have a consistent pronoun for gender-neutral terms because it caused conflict on the Law and order in the World of Avatar article, so I named the proposal for the pronoun that I found most fitting and was willing to advocate based on what I have learned. It is obvious to me that although I prefer "he" for consistency, the majority is less old-fashioned than my teachers and I were/are. As long as we find one style that resolves future conflicts like the one on the Law and order article, I don't see why we need to debate such a small matter this... aggressively? --Krazykid51 19:00, August 21, 2012 (UTC)
- MateyY, really? I was under the impression
- "a person who decides not to admit he lied will be considered honest until someone exposes his lie"
- is longer than
- "a person who denies lying will be considered honest until the lie is exposed".
- That was an example from Chicago. In fact, most of the options that are listed are roughly the same length or slightly shorter. Only the second and eighth options add length – negligible length at that. If we know gender-specific language is so easy to avoid, it really begs the question of whether you like simplicity/consistency, or whether you're simply being unreasonable. The 888th Avatar (talk) 23:03, August 21, 2012 (UTC)
- Actually, 88, you can write the sentence like this, too:
- a person who deines lying will be considered honest until his lie is exposed
- However, I agree with 888, that it with so many options provided by Chicago and MLA, it seems unnecessary to use "his" when it can obviously be cited as sexist or "momentarily confusing", according to the MLA (Modern Language Association). I do not see the need with using "his", because just about all sentences that use "his" as a pronoun to be gender neutral, can be made plural or rewritten so that they do not use the pronoun. WEFAang (wall • contribs) 01:30, August 22, 2012 (UTC)
- Actually, 88, you can write the sentence like this, too: