Monday, November 27, 2006

He she it

It is always odd when reading the human element in a statement to find it referred to as 'she' , when of course it should be 'he'.
'The scientist in such instances will consult her data'
'The philosopher knows that her training will cover this'
When I encounter 'she' in such circumstances I always wonder what that womans doing in here when 'he' is perfectly understood as neutral.


FBT said...

I suppose the very fact that we feel a little jolt of surprise when we read "she" in these contexts (and I am exactly the same) is indicative of the fact that subliminally we actually think that all scientists, philosophers etc are or should be men, and it is quite exceptional for a woman to be one. Just as we are a bit surprised to read that the nurse sat HIS exams.

MacDuff said...

I dont think of philosophers or scientists as male and 'he' is good enough to refer to both sexes as it did in the past.
If they start dropping in 'she' to be politically correct that does inject the extra idea of sex on top of whats being said. I suppose the probable outcome will be that the personal pronoun, to be fair to everyone, will change constantly throughout the paragraph so that he becomes she and later on she becomes he.

Humour and last laugh said...

I think people try to be politically correct by referring to 'she' in a text they write, equally neutrally perhaps.