Midas Jones, Literary Pioneer! The English language and speakers of English are going through an awkward period regarding gender. Not too long ago, if a pronoun referred to both men and women, the masculine form was used and everyone was supposed to understand that “he” included “she”. For example, we might read “If the voter wishes to vote a straight party ticket, then he should mark the ballot ...”, and we were supposed to understand that “he” referred to a voter of either gender.
I have had many conversations with women in my life or in my classes who complained of their social invisibility. They resented being merely a part of their father or husband, giving up their maiden names for their husband’s name, being included as an accessory to a man rather than being a person unto themselves apart from fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons. So, in deference to the feelings of these thoughtful women, I found myself perfectly willing to adjust my pronoun habits to include the lovelier half of the human race.
Unfortunately, I found myself saying and writing things like “If he or she wants to get a copy of his or her transcript, then he or she should submit a request to his or her ...” Very clumsy. The language needs a new set of pronouns that refer to both genders, and sooner or later a new set of words will surely emerge to fill this hole. Until then, my personal habit is to use either “he” or “she” interchangeably when referring to an unnamed person of unknown gender. I do a lot of public speaking, and I make a point of trying to alternate more or less equally between masculine and feminine pronouns.
When I began writing The Modern Prince, I decided early on that I would use masculine pronouns throughout the odd-numbered chapters and feminine pronouns throughout the even numbered chapters. I found that I was occasionally writing phrases that were new to me. For example ...
“it is better to crush your opponent rather than wound her”
“in a year or two you’ll be defeated by a more muscular, younger woman
who takes newer designer steroids than you do”
“as she shows Muslim men that she can kill infidels as courageously as they do”
“The happiness of a Prince rests in her Domain and her control over it.”
I am interested in hearing whether my female readers responded positively to my grammatical experiment. As a man, I found it interesting - and fun - to read what I had written. I am also interested in hearing from my male readers. Did it contribute to your enjoyment of the book? Did any of the sentences bother you? Let me know.