But, you see, it's a fairly easy task to use inclusive language in these cases and the incredibly unreadable and/or convoluted sentences could easily be rewritten in order to use the inclusive language.
The thing is, 50% of the time, you're wrong if you use "he" alone.
"Someone who shares views such as these will have a hard time defending his or her beliefs."
I agree that this is easy to do, but it has one flaw that is a little bit important to me : it lacks beauty.
One sentence standing alone like this is tolerable, but scatter five or six of them over the space of 2 or 3 paragraphs on a page? No, thank you. It creates clunky prose and very often it's going to mess up the rhythm of the sentence as a whole, and probbaly alter to some degree the overall effect of whatever piece I'm writing.
Basically, if I have to choose between truth and beauty, I guess I'll vote for the supermodel, haha ...
But I have another solution, which I've seen used from time to time to good effect : use "he" and then later "she," and alternate "him" and "her," in a similar manner when writng abstract and specific sentences. "If the pilot is experiencing difficulty, she needs to radio the control tower immediately."
I like this because the only clunkiness involved is a slight challenge to my set of preconcieved notions - pilot? she? what? - and the truth is I like being challenged in that way ... true, it can be distracting because it's not what we are used to hearing or reading, but after one gfets used it there's very little problem.
The very best solution of all, of course, is to avoid abstract and nonspecific sentences altogether, or as much as possible. Fortunately, I'm not a bureaucrat, so there's not much need for me to have to use that kind of writing. The best sort of prose, the kind people want to read and enjoy reading is very specific and uses very little in the way of abstractions - if there are overarching ideas to be conveyed, the reader is given credit to possess the tools needed to reach those conclusions naturally, and the ideas that percolate up as a result of that process are more profound and valuable for the route they took.
If I say I'm a feminist, then by my definition of feminism, I'm a feminist.
I agree that people need to be allowed to define themselves, but unfortunately most people who discourse on such matters do not give enough attention to nuanced differences, do they?* If you are a feminist, what texture is your particular variety? Steinem or Dworkin? de Beauvior or Emma Goldman?
I think inclusiveness is vital, but I think what many people are reacting to is that language is being harnessed as part of a struggle about race and class - what this at times results in is attempts to "include" everyone EXCEPT those identified as from a group labeled as "exploiters." Within certain groups of people I have found myself needing to make all kinds of clear statements about my views in order to provide credentials to offset the fact that I am male, with pale skin and blue eyes and have an Anglo-Saxon surname - another person might not need to provide the same assurances in such a group merely due to the fact of being a woman, or having an hispanic surname, or havingdark-toned skin.
It's "identity politics." It's pc-ville. It's why a lot of people get fed up with the whole thing.
* Another solution to the non-specifiic referent conundrum is to use plurals. Thankfully, English needs no gender sistinctions for plural pronouns.
Anyway they didn't bother with it and chairwoman sounds stupid. So they make it chairperson.
In a lot of places, you can just say, "Chair," for man or woman. Doesn't work for "Spokes," though ...
(Thing is, to me, if you call someone a "spokeswoman," it gives the impression that she is expressing a specifically female point of view, and that's usually not accurate if they are making statements on behalf of a govt or corp.)acid_rain_child
PC is all about not hurting anyone's feelings. But if there were no political corectness in the first place, then no one would know what and what not to be offended about. It's a set of rules we made ourselves.
It's true to some extent about most rules, the fact that we made them ourselves. In the case of grammar, as I was referring to before, it's a slow and gradual process, but in most cases the "rules" that became written down were done so by male grammarians. Prior to that, most of the written communication that happened was between men or between a very small minority women from the ruling families of a society. In many cultures, and for a long time, it was not considered proper or necessary even to teach reading and writing to young girls at all.
And I don't want to offend, so I hope I won't, but I think you are mistaken if you think people need pc-culture to tell them when to be offended. If I become offended by something, believe me, it's pretty natural and I seldom need anyone to tell me when I ought to feel that way.
And it's a little more than just hurting people's feelings. As Tigersong hinted, it's about including people or excluding tham. That's a pretty important thing, I think.righteous:
That's just the way the English language works. I prefer "his/her," "he/she," "him/her" and "himself/herself" not because I like to be PC (proceeds to vomit) but to be completely clear when talking in abstract.
Language constantly evolves, and we have the choice to try and alter that evolution if we care to. Every time you write or speak or chat you are participating or cooperating in the creation of new language forms or the perpetuating of old ones. We can decide what we want to keep and what we want to throw out. It's not something you or I decide, it's a thing that whole societies gradually arrive at a consensus about, then later perhaps decide to challenge the consensus ... them maybe challenge it again and put it back.
If we choose to participate, that is. Even trying to opt out of it is itself a decision, though.