CONNOISSEURS of feminist scholarship may be interested in this 1994 interview by staff of the National Council of English Teachers with Kate Swift, the editor and writer who was author of The Handbook of Non-Sexist Writing and who was a major force in inducing mass guilt and confusion as to the use of male pronouns.
Ms. Swift, who helped popularize the address of “Ms.,” died last week at the age of 87. Her major works, including Words and Women, were co-authored by her partner of many years, Casey Miller. Presumably, they were lesbians. They argued that the English language had “relegate[d] the female half of the species to secondary status.”
Ms. Swift and Ms. Miller recommended that “genkind” be used instead of “mankind” and that “tey,” “ter” and “tem” be adopted as sex-neutral substitutes for “he/she,” “his/her” and “him/her.” The New York Times glowing obituary of Swift provides an overview of their works.
The use of male generic pronouns inflicts psychic damage on girls and women, Ms. Swift and Ms. Miller argued. They wrote:
The penetration of this habit of language into the minds of little girls as they grow up to be women is more profound than most people, including most women, have recognized; for it implies that personality is really a male attribute, and that women are a subspecies. (Women and Words, p. 19) Read More »