Posted: Oct 02, 2014 4:38 pm
by laklak
Language evolved gender specific pronouns because they were more useful than non-specific ones. "He is strong" or "she is strong" conveys more information than "they is strong" or "ze is strong". We already have non-specific pronouns for cases that warrant them. If someone chooses to use "they" as opposed to "he" or "she" that's their prerogative; however, I see that as frankly ridiculous under most circumstances. It's like looking at a black guy and a white guy and saying "the dude with the red shirt" instead of "the white guy". Gender is an identifying characteristic, just as skin color, hair color (or lack thereof) or eye color are. Recognizing gender does not make one a tool of the patriarchy. There is a difference between saying "she is weak" and "all women are weak". One is specific and may or may not be correct, the other is an incorrect generalization.

It appears the speaker is associating the gender of each pronoun with the corresponding characteristic. The women seem to be judged for being loud, annoying, or fat, as women. The men seem to be judged for being cowardly or skinny, as men, or they seem to be commended for being strong, as men. These gendered pronouns create unnecessary and irrelevant associations in our minds and imply the speaker considers the subjects' genders relevant to the subjects' other characteristics. Now read the same statements after each gendered pronoun has been replaced with the singular "they" (one of English's only gender-neutral pronouns).


Maybe to you, but IMO you're over-thinking it. "Seem to be" doesn't mean "are", that's something going on in your mind. If someone says "she's really stupid" I don't associate stupidity with the class noun "woman" anymore than I associate it with "canine" if someone points to a dog and says "he's really stupid". By definition a pronoun is a word that substitutes for a noun or noun phrase, it can be singular or plural. You'll note that in English gendered pronouns are singular, non-gendered are plural (except for the singular "it"). When you say "he" or "she" or "his" or "hers" you're identifying a specific individual, not a group. If you use "they", "us", "them", "you" (pl), you are identifying a group of non-gendered objects.