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Monday, November 9, 2015

Keep Your Gender-Neutral Pronouns Away From My Writing!

I first noticed the strange phenomenon when I was performing a spellcheck on my novel. Every time the search hit the word "lady", it wanted me to change my selection, as if "lady"couldn't possibly be the correct choice.

Then I noticed that the program wanted to change "waitress" to "server", "businessman" to
"businessperson", and "hostess" to "host".

What was this madness???

Imagine a group of businesspersons gathered at a table at the local Denny's. The server walks up and places the bill on the table. As they leave, the host tells them to have a nice day.

What a bland vision.

Now, imagine a group of businessmen gathered at a table at the local Denny's. The waiter walks up and places the bill on the table. As they leave, the hostess tells them to have a nice day.

Can you get a better picture, even without adjectives, of who these people are? Yes, you can, because you at least know their gender.

I know if my character is a lady. Even if she's not, having another character call her a lady can help to define the character that is speaking.

I also know the sex of my characters, and if it's a woman server, I can save a word by calling her a waitress. There is no shame in being a waitress. I was one. I didn't give a hoot if I was referred to as a server or a waitress. I just wanted my tip.

I don't have a problem with mankind, and I refuse to read a Bible that has obliterated male pronouns. There are certain situations that call for an inclusive word, such as a corporate newsletter that goes out to men and women, but in that case, you are addressing a specific audience. And it's nice to alternate he and she if your giving examples, because your audience is most likely made up of both.

Most of the time, these changes obliterate the femininity of my characters. From hostess, female, to host, male. Why shouldn't Dorothy be a hostess? In the workplace, it's a difficult job that takes great people skills. At home, it's just as tricky. I especially have an issue with the powers-that-be thinking that "lady"is not an appropriate term. Would that more woman would aspire to be ladies.  In a move to avoid offending anyone, the gender police have turned my characters into no ones.


  1. I share your peeve. I use guy and gal, and men are still men and they can be gentlemen or swiine. Swine is a male-only term. Whereas cow is totally female. My females can be killers and the men can be heroes. And there is no rule out there that says we can't write that way, Jackie. Great post.

    1. I LOVE your examples. That's why I think you are wonderful. You are so blunt. :)

  2. Great post, Jackie! I'm with you. I still live in a world with men and women, where feminine and masculine verbal distinctions produce pictures and situations in my, and hopefully, readers mind.

    1. Isn't that the truth? I get a totally different image from server and waitress, or even waiter. I will say that, as far as available images, many artists have the misconception that waitresses all run around in tiny skirts and all have large breasts. Maybe at Hooters, God love 'em.