Comment 13 for bug 272826

Leigh Honeywell (hypatia) wrote :

I'm going to type up a couple of bits from the aforementioned "Handbook of Nonsexist Writing":

But the tl;dr (too long, didn't read) version is: have a neutral word. Use it consistently. To do otherwise, is sexist writing. Ubuntero is neutral to an anglophone, but to an hispanophone it sounds very male, so let's consider Ubuntista.

From the book, p 131, "Blond, Blonde and Other Imports":

"In the interest of simplicity and logic the common-gender forms blond, brunet, fiancé, and divorcé would seem to suffice for everybody."

pp 134-135 differs somewhat, and is relevant in the case of an invented word:

"Most English agent-nouns -- words like teacher, farmer, patron, poet, etc., which describe someone who does something -- have common gender and so can be used of a person of either sex. When French or Latin feminine-gender suffixes like -ess or -trix are attached to these words to designate women, even it the addition is intended as a courtesy, the basic form acquires a predominantly masculine sense with the unavoidable implication that the feminine gender-form represents a nonstandard variation. Once again the male is identified as the norm, the female as an aberration."

My take on this is summed up above.

And before anyone brings up the old "well the male form is the generic", I'll just point out that there's a whole chapter entitled "Man as a false generic" in the book. It's really Not Ok to use the male form as a generic if you're at all trying to write in a non-sexist fashion.

Hope that helps!