University Language Guide: Use ‘She or He’ Not ‘He or She’ To Be ‘Gender-Aware’

Don't be sexist!

The “gender-inclusive language” guide offered by the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill teaches students ways to be “gender-aware” in their writing — such as using the phrase “she or he” instead of “he or she.”

“Putting the masculine form first is more conventional; ‘she or he’ may distract readers but does make the point that women are not just being added onto the generic ‘he,’” the guide advises.  

Of course — “distracting” or not – “she or he” is obviously the better choice. After all, making sure your writing is politically correct is much more important than making sure it’s understandable, and writing “he or she” instead of “she or he” is basically the same as writing “men (who are better) or women (who are useless anywhere but in the kitchen).”

Other sexism-busting strategies suggested in the guide include “alternating genders, using masculine pronouns in some places and feminine ones in others.”

“This option will work only in certain situations, though – usually hypothetical situations in which the referent is equally likely to be male or female,” it continues.

#share#(It does neglect to mention that you must be sure to use an even number of hypothetical situations in order to equally represent each gender, but that’s probably just because it’s so obviously necessary that it’s not like anyone could ever forget to do it.)

Of course, the guide also recognizes that even phrases such as “she or he” can also be problematic because they enforce the traditional gender binary:

#related#“Using ‘she or he”’ or similar constructions can also inadvertently exclude people who do not refer to themselves using either pronoun,” it warns.

Yikes. Perhaps we should just get rid of pronouns altogether? They are, after all, causing so many (very) serious problems.

The guide was initially reported on by the College Fix.

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review.

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