Several years back I was doing a critique on a ladies work, and the number of times she entered his or her, he or she, was distracting and cumbersome. In my write up of suggestions, I recommended she go with the masculine pronoun to refer to either sex.
Well guess what, I was wrong. The practice of using the masculine pronoun was acceptable back in the day, but as you may know, times change.
So what’s a person to do? Writing his or her, he or she will get old really fast. I can attest to that. You have to start looking for more gender neutral terms.
Sexist Term Substitution
- chairman/chairwoman chair, chairperson, presiding officer
- coed student
- congressman/congresswoman congressional representative, legislator
- forefathers ancestors
- layman layperson
- man/woman person/people, individual
- man-made synthetic
- policeman police officer
- salesman sales clerk
- mankind humanity, humankind, human race
I think you’re getting the picture.
- Change your wording to plural pronouns. Each teacher should greet all of his or her students by name. Teachers should greet all of their students by name.
- Substitute he or she with a noun. She needs to go to the back of the line. The doctor needs to go to the back of the line.
- Reword your sentence to use the first or second person. If she loses her ticket, she can’t get in. If you lose your ticket, you can’t get in.
I’m a little older, so to be honest, using a masculine pronoun to refer to all sexes does not bother me. However, I do realize we have to change with the times.
As an author you may not have to many situations arise in your novel related to gender specificity, but if you do, this is something to think about .