Friday, October 21, 2016

About pronouns

.... The obsession over gendered pronouns is part of a general tendency in recent decades to treat social and political questions as fundamentally about signs and symbols rather than actual men and women. I do not believe that using "he" or "him" to refer to "everyone" or "a writer" or "a physician" in any way implies that men are superior to women, or that the language of power, whatever that is, is somehow intrinsically masculine. I think the whole silly controversy arises from the conflation of reality and signifier.

Those are my views. I don't apologize for them. But I would be willing to put them to one side, or just forget about them, if there were an easy way to avoid generic masculine pronouns and still make my sentences clip along without giving the reader any trouble. And by "trouble" I mean that brief moment when the reader thinks about the way you've written it instead of what you've written. ....