♀♂♀♀♂♀ Gender Specifics ♀♂♀♀♂♀

There is a ‘grammar’ check that comes up from time to time when I write. When I have dialogue such as this:  “Hey guy’s, check this out.”  Guy’s is underlined in blue and I get the ‘Gender Specific Dialogue message’.

The same goes for actress or stewardess or any other gender specific word. In the narrative, it is better to omit these classifying words that would by today’s standards be sexist or insulting, such as chick or guy or dude. Since people still talk this way they are acceptable in dialogue(IMO) as long as it’s character driven and not author driven. By that, I mean a single character’s way of speaking and not every character’s way of speaking.

So I did some digging and reading and found out that there is a lot to it. Being a gender specific species we naturally gravitated toward gender-specific activities, likes, interests, and behaviors etc. Thus as jobs, careers, roles, and positions within society were created unequally; they were predominantly occupied by men. It is these traditional male roles that were divided by gender titles when women entered the workforce.

These clear dividers were created to keep the gender identity of the person within the job clear. This is where feminism and women’s rights came into play.

As roles of women changed in society to become less gender-linear, the terminology used for women’s positions in society started changing. They are either reverting back to the male title or getting a new neutral one all of their own.

With the modern world, such differentiations are less and less acceptable.  So when a divide was created in, for example, a job title, are reverted back to the male referent once feminism came into play. Some titles stayed the same across the gender as well

Titles with clear gender specific language
Male  Female Gender neutral
Actor Actress Actor
Steward Stewardess Flight Attendant
Waiter Waitress Server
Hero Heroine Hero
Policeman Policewoman Police officer
Barman Barmaid Bartender
Headmaster Headmistress Headteacher
Manager Managress Manager
Mailman Mailwoman Mailperson
Salesman Saleswoman Clerk/ salesperson
Fireman Firewoman Firefighter
Barber Hairdresser Hairdresser/hair stylist

A lot fo the gender specific’s are noted by the ‘man’ or ‘woman’ at the end.

Titles that are gender neutral
Male  Female Gender neutral
Pilot Pilot Pilot
Author Author Author
Lawyer Laywer Lawyer
Teacher Teacher Teacher
Doctor Doctor Doctor
Chef Chef Chef
Titles that were typically female but now gender neutral
Male  Female Gender neutral
  Nurse Nurse
Stay at home wife Homemaker
Nanny Nanny/childcare provider
Secretary Secretary or Receptionist

In order to illustrate how a gender non-specific noun is used, I’ll give some examples using gender-neutral nouns and gender specific pronouns:

When I approached the police officer she smiled a friendly greeting.

I dropped my son off at the daycare, he is so good with the kids.

The sales clerk took my order; he gave me a discount I wasn’t expecting.

My doctor said she is pleased with my progress.

The manager said she wouldn’t meddle in my business, she lied. 

See? They all sound just fine without the gender-specific job title.

This can be a touchy subject because as humans, we all have different ideas, opinions, beliefs, standards, and codes of ethics.  Regardless of the opinion or views on the subject when writing (IMO and general rules I found) it is suggested that using gender specific language in narrative might be viewed as insensitive or unprofessional.

I’ve caught myself making gender specific references because I grew up with them. I do however know better and try to find them and when I do, I find that what I wrote sounds better and more professional. Does that mean I take it out of the dialogue of an old man who doesn’t know better? No. I leave it in when it’s important to the character and their personality/upbringing/beliefs. I’ll have a sexist pig drop comments, names, and job titles on the sly to solidify who they are as a person. (FYI women can be sexist pigs too)

My advice about gender specific language in the narrative.
It might be a good idea to write a better sentence. If we all make this effort it will be a great stride forward for mankind humankind everyone. 


Other posts

The “What ifs” Of Imagination

“Who’s Talking?”

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3 thoughts on “♀♂♀♀♂♀ Gender Specifics ♀♂♀♀♂♀

  1. Thank you Sheryl. I really enjoyed reading this. It is a touchy subject for some and I definitely agree that if your words are “character” based, it’s not as problematic. I actually hadn’t considered this when I was writing my novel. I’ll definitely take it to heart now though. Awesome. Really appreciate the work you did in delving into this subject. Appreciated very much 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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