Generic Masculinity

Thu, 5 Jan 1995 14:42:00 CST

anthropologist--to see posts from males who don't avoid masculine
pronouns in their obsolescent generic sense, or the terms "man" and
"mankind" when the species is meant. The fact that many languages
genderize all nouns--many in a frequently arbitrary manner--scarcely
seems to warrant continuing reference to, e.g., "the evolution of man
and his culture" in English. I don't require students to avoid generic
masculines in their writing, but I surely do not fault colleagues who
do. Though I am far from believing language an autonomous cause of
cultural change,I think it clear that many women--and not a few men
(including me)--have grown to find the man-and-his-achievements stuff
offensive. Those who make it a point to persist, in addition to
fighting a culturally/linguistically lost cause, evidently want to give
offense; may it continue to be their legal right to do so, and may they
enjoy the fruits thereof! --Bob Graber