Generic pronouns and sexist language: The oxymoronic character of masculine generics

@article{Gastil1990GenericPA,
  title={Generic pronouns and sexist language: The oxymoronic character of masculine generics},
  author={John Gastil},
  journal={Sex Roles},
  year={1990},
  volume={23},
  pages={629-643}
}
  • John Gastil
  • Published 1 December 1990
  • Psychology
  • Sex Roles
This experiment investigated the propensity of the generic he to evoke images of males relative to he/she and the plural they. Undergraduates read sentences aloud and verbally described the images that came to mind. The results provide strong support for the hypothesis that the generic he evokes a disproportionate number of male images. Results also suggest that while the plural they functions as a generic pronoun for both males and females, males may comprehend he/she in a manner similar to he… 

Tables from this paper

MASCULINO GENÉRICO E SEXISMO GRAMATICAL
This dissertation has as its “leitmotiv” the discussion about a linguistic usage ‒ the generic masculine ‒ and a linguistic concept ‒ the unmarked gender ‒ in a situation which we will call
Is the generic pronoun he still comprehended as excluding women?
TLDR
The hypothesis that GM pronouns reduce the likelihood of thoughts of females in what are intended to be non-sex-specific instances is supported.
Does Alternating Between Masculine and Feminine Pronouns Eliminate Perceived Gender Bias in Text?
This study explores whether alternating betweenthe pronouns “he” and “she” ina text is an effective way to avoid sexist language.Participants were psychology students at a largemidwestern university
The processing of the Dutch masculine generic zijn ‘his’ across stereotype contexts: An eye-tracking study
TLDR
This eye-tracking experiment, which is the first to systematically investigate the online processing of masculine generic pronouns, found an effect of stereotype context and suggests that language processing is not only affected by the strength of stereotype contexts; the associated disapproval of violating these gender stereotypes affects language processing, too.
Changes Over Time in the Comprehension of He and They as Epicene Pronouns
TLDR
It is concluded that he is a more effective epicene with respect to language change than he and they, which were conducted 15 years apart to explore whether change in pronoun usage and the social significance of pronouns would be associated with different priming effects.
Singular they and the syntactic representation of gender in English
Singular they enjoys a curious notoriety in popular discussions of English grammar. Despite this, and though its use with quantificational, non-specific, and genuinely epicene antecedents dates back
Epicene pronouns in UK national newspapers: A diachronic study
1 Introduction The standard English personal pronoun paradigm has been more or less stable since the end of the Early Modern English period, with its last major change being the replacement of thou
Gender, prescriptivism, and language change: Morphological variation in Hebrew animate reference
  • E. Levon
  • History
    Language Variation and Change
  • 2012
Abstract Beliefs about a language rarely correspond to how it is used. This is especially true for Hebrew, a language that has been subject to continued ideological “preservation” efforts ever since
Who Counts as Human? Antecedents to Androcentric Behavior
People view men as typically human, although some conditions may make this more or less likely. Language has been implicated as one factor, with masculine generic language (e.g., he used neutrally)
...
1
2
3
4
5
...

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 35 REFERENCES
Do masculine pronouns used generically lead to thoughts of men?
Six experiments investigated the commonly expressed view that the pronoun he, when used generically, may lead individuals to think more often of male referents. The first experiment validated a
Masculine generics=sexist language: A review of literature and implications for speech communication professionals
This article reviews empirically based studies demonstrating gender‐biased perceptions resulting from use of “man”‐linked words (e.g., “mankind”) and third‐person‐singular masculine pronouns.
Gender Bias in English: In Search of Fair Language
Women's historical lack of prominence in Western culture has been the subject of much research and debate in recent years. One area of partiuclar concern has been language: the grammatical
The impact of generic word choices: An empirical investigation of age- and sex-related differences
Previous studies of receivers' responses to generic words have found that adults generally develop masculine imagery for neutral words and that men do this more than women. The present investigation
Androcentrism in prescriptive grammar: singular ‘they’, sex-indefinite ‘he’, and ‘he or she’
This paper demonstrates that prior to the beginning of the prescriptive grammar movement in English, singular ‘they’ was both accepted and widespread. It is argued that the prescriptive grammarians'
LINGUISTIC MODELS AS POLITICAL SYMBOLS: GENDER AND THE GENERIC “HE” IN ENGLISH
TLDR
It is time to look at theories, making implicit ones explicit, in order to see how well they support the political ends to which they have been turned, for these theories must mediate between the linguistic data and the political views asserted.
What Does ‘He’ Mean?Use of the Generic Masculine
“Those defenders of the generic masculine who are alternately amused and outraged by demands for nonsexist language seem to echo Humpty Dumpty's famous retort: ‘When I use a word, it means just what
Sex-role related effects of sex bias in language
Despite recent efforts to eliminate sexist language from journal and other publications, controversy persists over whether sexist language contributes to the perpetuation of sex bias. Seventy-two
Beyond the "He/Man" Approach: The Case for Nonsexist Language
  • W. Martyna
  • Sociology
    Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society
  • 1980
Time calls it "Ms-guided,"' a syndicated columnist "linguistic lunacy."2 TV Guide wonders what the "women's lib redhots" with "the nutty pronouns" are doing.3 A clear understanding of the sexist
...
1
2
3
4
...