Problematic Universalization of "He" and "Him" Pronouns


Problematic Universalization of "He" and "Him" Pronouns

The generic uses of "he" reveal the exclusion of women from education and language. Everything from laws to literature uses language in a problematic way. The fact that educational institutions are dominated by males has led to the use of exclusively masculine pronouns or rendering them "generic." India has made improvements to its laws to support the weak and disadvantaged, but there is still a long way to go. India should adapt its everyday language as it moves toward achieving equality because inclusion and representation are more important than ever right now. He has been referred to in literature in general terms to indicate an ambiguous gender. This post will explore why this is problematic.

Promote Gender-Stereotypes

Language has a pervasive influence on how people think. In accordance with masculine supremacy, the pronoun "he" was used to refer to all people. Male bias is triggered by masculine generics, according to studies, and readers or listeners are more likely to picture men than models of any other gender. "Even what would be regarded inconsequential parts of language can have far-reaching subconscious impacts on how we see the world," writes Lera Boroditsky, a professor of cognitive science at UCSD. The subconscious and how a person perceives different genders could be affected by this form of pronoun generalisation.

For instance, the pronoun "he" and its derivatives may be used for any person, regardless of gender, according to Section 8 of the Indian Penal Code. When referring to the accused, offender, or victim in the offences listed in the Indian Penal Code, only "he" is used. This discriminatory law has the potential to alter how people view criminal activity and criminals in society. As a result, many people still have no idea what sexual assault against men is, for example. Political science research has recently revealed a link between more regressive gender attitudes and gendered languages that assign nouns in this manner.

Prohibit Gender-Equity

Additionally, some researchers have discovered that there is less gender equality in nations where the language is more heavily influenced by gender stereotypes. According to a World Bank assessment, women in many developing nations face major obstacles to equal participation in society. The sheer structure of some languages may influence gender norms in a way that restricts women's prospects, according to a new line of research that is revealing this surprising and less obvious potential. "Gender equity is crucial not only because it can help speed up progress toward ending poverty, but because it gives everyone the chance to reach their potential," said Asli Demirguc-Kunt, Director of Research at the World Bank. "Understanding the deeper issues that determine the challenges women experience can help governments be more effective in their attempts to create a fair playing field," he continued.

According to Ozier and Jakiela's findings in the World Values Survey, people who frequently use gendered language, such as androcentric pronouns, are more likely to concur with stereotypes like "Men make better business executives than women do" or "When jobs are scarce, men should have more right to a job than women." According to research, the way pronouns are used in general contexts shapes how people see women's place in society and has a direct bearing on how many women choose to enter the workforce.

Profane the Dignity of Non-Binaries

Representation is important. Binary pronoun usage will only prevent people from understanding that there are people who do not identify with either gender. To ensure that everyone is treated with dignity, it is crucial to accept the pronouns that people choose to use. A person's right to dignity is violated when their gender is assumed and they are addressed using the pronouns "he" or "he," whether or not you are aware of their choice to identify as a man. Respect for their gender identity can be shown by not presuming pronouns.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary updated its definition of "they" in 2019 to include the phrase "one person whose gender identity is nonbinary." The American Dialect Society designated singular "they" the word of the decade 2010–2019. The best method to start eradicating gender bias in society is by using pronouns that are gender-neutral, such as they/them, or, even better, by making it commonplace to ask for one's preferred pronouns rather than assuming same.

Since the pronoun "they" is used as a plural pronoun in English, there have been complaints about the potential grammatical problems this could lead to. Languages can, nevertheless, evolve and modernise in order to keep up with the times. Accepting change is preferable to having a rigid mindset that assumes everyone identifies as either male or female.


It takes deliberate and persistent attempts to bring about a fundamental shift, such as really challenging the practise of using the same pronouns for all genders. We could start by carefully examining and altering our everyday language to bring about this. If we make deliberate attempts to bring about change, it can happen. Let's go above binary thinking and treat everyone with the respect and representation they genuinely deserve.

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