No, He does not Include Women

I’ve had many a debate that ‘man’ includes women and ‘he’ includes women. No way: ‘man’ does not include women, nor does ‘he’ include women, implicitly or explicitly. These are male pronouns, and they exclude women.

Time and again, I read student essays where the student refers to the author using male pronouns when the author is female. To me, this means they assume the author is male.

It’s not good enough. ‘He’ does not include women. It ignores the challenges and struggles women face in becoming more visible in the public sphere. It assumes, whether politicians or authors, that we are men when we’re not.

Language is power. The language we use constructs a reality. Whether or not you understand this reality, male pronouns are exclusionary not inclusive.

So, if you want to use a gender neutral pronoun, which I’m all for, use they or their. Once this may have been considered grammatically incorrect. But, it’s 2016 and we need new words that are inclusive as opposed to gendered, and exclusionary.

This isn’t a battle I expected to have to fight. But I’m not being referred to as a ‘he’.

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