Ago 14, 2002

Gendered Word

The makers of websites, online journals, and internet articles are writers in their own right. Some are even stylists. Whatever the case, we all have our linguistic preferences as individuals. These surface in our written idiolect.

Since the latter half of my college work, I have taken to some habits when writing in English. One of them is my default pronoun for the theoretical all inclusive "Man." I use "she," "her,", and "hers," rather than the mainstream "he," "him," and "his." I also prefer this to the forms "he/she" and "s/he" which are fine except these are awkward and intrusive to flow. For example, in my essays, one is likely to find something that reads like:

Man is condemned to be free. But according to Sartre, it doesn't end there. The total freedom of the individual doesn't mean that morals can't be based on anything. Rather, by her particular choice of a course of action in a specific situation, an individual actually prescribes what any man ought to do should she find herself in her place.

I got this practice in a book on pedagogy, "Of Maps and Leapfrogs: Popular Education and Other Disruptions," by Robert Francis Garcia of the UP CSWCD and PEPE. I found it more convenient and sensible as an advanced alternative.

I do not claim a very radical language though. For example, except in my private journals, I still don't use "She" to refer to God. When I write about God anyway, I usually mean the predominant Roman Catholic construct in the Philippines. I cannot attribute to this any characteristic that users and reusers of the construct think foreign (if not absolutely anathema) to "Him."

I can be a bit meticulous about how things are put down in words. Maybe it's freakish, but it's not totally useless since language is the vehicle of thought. Of course, with Sapir-Whorf-related theory, it also gives form to our thoughts. If one comes to think of it, she could very well play a chicken-or-the-egg debate with what came first, thought or word.

I am of the persuasion that our word deserves some thought.