Political Correctness: Respect Or Overkill?

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Political Correctness: Respect Or Overkill?

In business there many occasions where training and other materials are written and presented. In the past, when referring to someone in a certain role, they would be referred to as “him” or “he”. When the attorney reviews a file, “he” must be cognizant of… If the police officer encounters a dangerous situation, “he” should call for back-up… etc.

The folks who create these training materials were not inherently sexist, they simply followed common practice without giving it much thought.

That doesn’t mean using “he” in every situation is not sexist in general and therefore had to be rethought in business and in all professions.

So that leaves us with a huge dynamic that spans generations and also causes additional thought that has to be given to documented materials, apart from the lesson at issue.

The question is this: Is this still necessary? Has it solved anything? Is there a standard accepted practice?

In my own world, I find myself leaning towards simply putting a “she” when I have a need to put a pronoun in my documented materials. Using “she” today pretty much means you cannot go wrong from a diversity aspect and for efficiency sake, using one method for name replacement saves time.

Now we can give equal time and use a standard “he or she” throughout a training course or presentation but that caused extra keystrokes and effort.

Or we can give equal time by alternating between he and she, but now we are spending time in brain work. “Am I using “he” too much?” “What did I use in the last paragraph?” Please, this is just wasted thought.

I’m going to stick to using “she”, thank you very much.

First and foremost, “she” has earned it.

Secondarily, I need to get my project done quickly and efficiently and all my thought needs to be on the subject matter. Am I using “she” for all the wrong reasons? I don’t think so. I’m just pre-thinking, making a decision based on the times and getting my work done with maximum optimization.

Lastly, we must consider the older generations, let’s say folks between 50 – 70 who never had to consider this, have not changed their ways and still uses “he” or “him” in all general situations. Do these guys (haha) need a firm talking to??

Watch George Carlin’s humorous video about political correctness.


13 thoughts on “Political Correctness: Respect Or Overkill?

  1. Excellent post-Mike (Dinh).

    The reason “he” is used is to save you 1000’s of keystrokes. Think about it this way … every time you write “he” and NOT “she”, you save 1 keystroke. Write “he” 1 million times and you save yourself 1 million Keystrokes … now think of all the blogs you could write with this extra time you would be saving.

    I’m sure HE will agree and that’s what HE seems to feel the most comfortable with. We all agree with HIM and HE agrees as well. At the end of the day, we all agree that He came up with the best solution.

    HE will be waiting for a reply to HIS interpretation of HIS world.

    Thanks for seeing it HIS way!

    HE is called Paul.

  2. I love the video that you posted to make a point about being politically correct. I also agree with your view about using “she” because “she” has earned it. For decades, books, articles, magazines, you name it, have used “he” as their prefer noun. It is just about time that “she” comes out to light. I am not trying to be a feminist or anything but I think writers and editors should be fair in the use of he or she. And it works for simplicity sake as well.

  3. If I don’t know the gender of someone, I try to use ‘they’ in the singular. It doesn’t assume anything, and is generally more inclusive. Sometimes I might use ‘s/he’ but this still excludes non-binary people, so I try to be careful with how I use that. I suppose I could write ‘s/h/(x)e’ – but that’s a little less streamlined.

    I think it’s pretty easy really, when talking about individuals, use their preferred pronouns. (See? Singular they is perfectly functional in English!)

    When talking about hypothetical (i.e. non-existent) individuals, do whatever you want.

    When talking about people in general, use ‘they,’ ‘you,’ or ‘we.’ 🙂

  4. I often find my myself needing to make a choice between either choosing he or she, or writing “he or she” on my blog when I writing posts.

    I usually just stick with she, simply because I think there is enough of “he” in this world, and me being a she it just fits better.

  5. I love discussion posts! Did this stem from a discussion you had with Michael? 😉 Personally, I think context is more important than the pronouns. If he is generically referring to a person regardless of gender, I’m fine with it as I’ll know from context. “It” is also a great reference. Now how’s that for politically incorrectness?!

  6. Maybe “she” IS the correct pronoun, since it encompasses both sexes though culturally speaking it does have an admittedly feminine slant.

    I think “she” is safe because it seems like women are often more offended by the masculine than men are by the feminine. Though, these days it is entirely possible that I’m being too general with my words because it might be presumptive to assume that men would not be offended by “she”.

    I dislike all this political correctness, as you suggest it’s as if those that are easily offended would like us to come up with a new pronoun. Something other than “it” because that would be offensive too right?

    Perhaps we could use the reverse, such as esh to denote a sexually natural non-offensive pronoun and use that to cover any and all things that could apply to both sexes equally, which is almost everything these days.

    Thanks for such a fun topic, I love how you approached this. 🙂

  7. I like your thoughts. Writing “she” gives a different perspective when reading a text. probably only because we_re not used to see it. There’s something about gender use in texts that really touches people. I remember writing an article using a title mentioning the word “men”. It was about a product that both men and women could wear but SEO was better adding the word men. I was called sexist because of it. I blamed it on SEO 😉

  8. very interesting article on political correctness in terms of the He vs. she.

    “She” definitely has earned it.

    I definitely hear where your coming from and some sort of change in the standard needs to happen.

    That being said, we are so socially conditioned that something like this would just bring the following:

    The older generation finding it controversial, the middle generation being neutral and probably won’t help the discussion lean either way, and the young generation probably too distracted with the spew the media has coming out.

    I commend you for bringing this up and letting us all think about it and discourse about it.

    Definitely opened my mind about some standards in society that needs to be revised so “she” who has earned it, gets the proper representation “she” deserves.

    Solid article. Keep it up!


  9. Ooh I like this discussion post! You should include more of these in the blog. Personally, I tend to lead towards she as well. I thought it was mostly because of myself being female as well, but when it is an unknown that’s the immediate that my brain seems to tend to. But I do think political correctness can sometimes be going too far. I mean, can’t we just say he/she if we don’t know? It seems like a mouthful, but it means we are including everyone in getting the respect they deserve.

  10. This is a good, thought-provoking question, and people definitely have strong opinions about it. It’s absolutely tedious to have “he or she” or “s/he” everywhere, but any departure from that is noticeable and might even cultivate bias among your readers who, upon seeing too many “he” or “she” would assume you’re a raging feminist or raging misogynist, and that can have more influence than we realize in what the reader takes from your work. So it’s a question! One thing I’ve done is go back and forth between them in different sections or paragraphs, but maintaining gender consistency in the section. Other times, I suck it up and use s/he. I wonder how the transgender people feel about this.

  11. I understand what this article is trying to say and I agree with it as well as disagree. I think its great that people are coming to see that the word “he” is used to often and should be broadened to include “she”, but sometime this can get over the top. Using “he” in sentences doesn’t mean that only a male is capable of what is being discussed, its just the common way to write or talk. I think people take things to literally at times even though most of us know that males and females are capable of doing the same things.

  12. Interesting thoughts on the use of “he” vs. “she”. Sometimes I think that the whole “political correctness” thing has just gone too far. I think there is fine line between being cautious about your words and how you present yourself to be cognizant of people’s feelings vs. how ridiculous it can get – and has gotten with political correctness. Personally, I’m not offended if someone refers to the group of workers in the office as “those guys”. I’m one of two women in a group of mostly men – it’s going to be natural for a person to refer to us as “the guys”. My sense of self is pretty strong and I don’t think it’s a big deal to be lumped in, so to speak, with “the guys”.

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