Nearly everywhere and especially in academic circles, a writer must trip all over himself to avoid offending any one of his readers. The very basis of this soft-hearted, soft-minded pursuit is wasteful and absurd: What does this semantic gerrymandering hope to save us from, and what does it really accomplish?
The preemptive strike in writing (that is, constructing your prose in a specific way in the fear that one of your readers might be offended) has taken over writing of any and every kind. The most obvious example is writers’ insistence on a gender-neutral plural pronoun, like substituting “he or she” or “s/he” for the widely accepted and generally understood “he”. Even more insipid is the use of “they”, which is, of course, a plural. The use of “he” isn’t a vestige of the patriarchal paradigm: it’s a grammatical convention, just like commas and contractions. No thinking reader would think that an author is referring to men only when using “he” in an example, just no informed person could assume that the use of “mankind” or “man” to refer to the general population is in some way jilting the women. In the use of “he”, there is no political agenda and the reader can focus on what point the author is making. However, the modern insistence on cumbersome and overtly PC pronouns superimposes the feminist agenda over whatever the author might have been trying to say. The kind of ego-saving, guilt-inducing hijacking of traditional grammar is almost censorship, and it usurps what might have been a gender-neutral message and makes equality for women the point of every written work.
To have an opinion is to risk offending someone. As the saying goes, “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” Writers and the world in general should stop worrying about maybe bruising one reader’s tortured ego, and allow commonly accepted conventions (no matter what male-centric world contrived them) to have their rightful, gender-neutral place. Those who are offended by such unintended “insults” should realize that the world is cruel, truth is barbed, and not everything carries a political message. Feminists should stop perpetuating their dusty agendas and realize that by even insisting on the usage or “she” in place of “he”, they are implying that there is still a difference between the two.