I just never had any problem with the so-called male pronoun representing both and/or all genders
Martha Kennedy said this almost in passing, in her post entitled ‘Too Many to Name’, and had I been younger/more agile and energetic, I’d have bounced up from my desk chair and danced a celebratory jig.
Because of all the storms in teacups, self-righteous blatherings and PC nonsenses unfortunately associated with the very real cause of gender equality, this one takes the cake.
For a start, it makes women look pathetic. Are we so insecure about our own gender identity that what has been accepted as an all-purpose pronoun for hundreds of years leaves us feeling excluded and disparaged?
Certainly its use evolved in an age when women weren’t exactly front and centre, but if our image of ourselves is too fragile to tolerate centuries of generic English usage, how can we expect society to see us as strong? Unfortunate though it may be, the image we project is the accepted ‘truth’, and if we ponce about nitpicking over words that have long since lost their gender reference in the general consciousness, we will go on being perceived as poncing nitpickers too fixated on trivia to be trusted with important issues.
Secondly, I’m sick to death of mangling the language to conform to some latter-day concept of political correctness. Mankind is a damn good word. Personkind is a clumsy joke. He/she can foul up the rhythm of a sentence in one extra syllable. They can cause untold ambiguity. And as for chairperson… The person responsible for arranging the meeting’s seating?
Maybe I’ve just been lucky. Gender inequality wasn’t discussed much in my family, let alone expected. We could achieve, we were told, whatever we set our minds to, provided we worked at it. And we did. One of my sisters became a Federal Court judge. The other was an international consultant on educational broadcasting. And until the fuss began, I don’t suppose any of us gave a thought to the gender issues of pronouns.
So how about we stop fussing around with perceived linguistic inequalities and concentrate instead on raising our children to know they are equal, and to hell with splitting hairs over words so long accepted as generic that drawing attention to them is counterproductive.
Mankind includes us all and always has. Women do themselves no favours by seceding from it.