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I’m Done With Gender-Neutral Pronouns

As a professional editor, manuscript editor and book-writing coach, I strongly believe in being the right match for my clients. Not every editor fits with every writer, and not every copywriter fits with every client.

It’s silly to think otherwise.

That’s nothing against myself or other editors. The good ones, that is. There are plenty of bad editors out there, unfortunately. But speaking of the worthwhile ones, we simply have different styles, strengths and focuses. So do those seeking our services.

If the two don’t match, then a more suitable partnership needs to be sought for everyone’s sake.

That’s half the reason I’m writing this latest blog post about this latest blog topic. It’s to give you an insight into whether we’re compatible or not.

The other part is because I’m done with it – the “it” in question being gender-neutral pronouns.

Back when I was a kid, when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth and big, bright, thick scrunchies were all the rage, I wasn’t offended by gender-neutral pronouns.

This no doubt had something to do with how I hadn’t ever heard of them. But I was also secure enough in three facts to not care regardless:

  • I had instant value being who I was.

  • Boys were big babies when they got hurt (Editor's Note: this applied to boys, not men).

  • If people referenced the generic “he” in a non-specific example, they were referencing an individual of either gender.

Those same three facts stayed strong as the '90s came and then faded into the dawning of the new millennium. It wasn’t until fall 2002, when I first attended my now alma mater, that I learned to be offended by any lack of gender-neutral pronouns.

While I always thought it was silly to deem innocuous language as hurtful or hateful, I nonetheless found myself conforming to using gender-neutral pronouns, educating fellow students who came to me for writing help about gender-neutral pronouns, and wondering whether authors were disgustingly sexist who used non-gender-neutral pronouns.

In the process, I offended myself, but I still did all that. And I continued to do so for the next 16 years.

Well, as of fall 2018, I’m officially done with gender-neutral pronouns in my writing. Not necessarily in my editing – that’s completely up to my clients. I’ll respect your choice there just like I respect your right to prefer or not prefer the Oxford comma.

But these Professional Writing Tips will no longer feature them. Not if I have to bastardize my sentence structure to make them conform.

That’s just not going to happen anymore.

It’s also not going to happen in each week’s book-writing Definition, Challenge and Rule. Or in Innovative Editing’s Monday videos or in any of its other blog posts.

It’s just not going to happen.

I don’t mean that to be offensive, and I am genuinely sorry if you’re offended anyway. But I’m done ignoring what I find offensive myself. And that includes the idea that my feelings or femininity are too fragile to handle the generic “he.”

They’re not.

If that makes me sound like a great professional editor, manuscript editor or book-writing coach for you, wonderful! Let’s see if our styles mesh.

And for those who disagree, don’t worry. I’m not offended. There’s too much else in this world to find offensive as it is.


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