In an age where gender issues are rising to the surface, language demonstrates the depth of gender discrimination. In centuries of the spoken and written word, a division between male and female became part of communication. The only logical reason for creating this division of masculinity and femininity in language is to create bias.
Implied Gender Embedded in Language
English has shed most of the masculine and feminine constructs; however, pronouns remain a roadblock to gender-free writing or speech. Many other cultures face an almost impossible task of removing gender from their language. Masculine and feminine are embedded deep into the language of Spanish, French, Italian, German, and many other languages.
In many of these languages, not only the pronouns are gender defined, but the definite article (the, a) is gender-linked to the noun, which is also gender-linked.
Gendered Language Creates Social Issues
There are many studies that consider the issues of gender in languages. Most demonstrate an insidious bias caused by using words to define a person or thing as male or female. One significant issue of gendered language involves people who are transgender. Defining a person as male or female is offensive and harmful to a person whose physical form does not match her or his internal perception. It also creates undo awkwardness with people who are androgynous in physical appearance.
Gender is an unnecessary problem as there is almost never a need to establish masculinity or femininity using language. The reasons for using gender in writing and speech were attached to a patriarchal society where men were assumed to be dominant. Keeping gendered language is a failure to let go of the past and move forward.
I can’t change how people use language but I can experiment using a non-gendered pronoun in my writing. Because the he/she/him/her/his/hers pronoun is unnecessary, I am going to use the word ‘hu‘ for a non-gendered pronoun and ‘hu’s‘ as a non-gendered possessive pronoun.
Are we ready? We will never know unless we start somewhere. I’ll be interested in your reactions.