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Re: Prefer non-gender specific pronouns

From: Dima Pasechnik
Subject: Re: Prefer non-gender specific pronouns
Date: Mon, 7 Jun 2021 12:52:08 +0200

On Sun, Jun 06, 2021 at 05:59:17PM +0200, L??a Gris wrote:
> Le 06/06/2021 ?? 16:34, O??uz ??crivait???:
> > Then there is no need to change anything.
yes, there is a pressing need.

> Exactly.
> As a woman, I take no offense when a documentation illustrate a fictive male
> character. (and as I will illustrate below, in French pronouns are tuned in
> gender and number with the object). I am not offended by the wording of the
> current English Bash documentation either. I am more annoyed by the
> over-abundance of children's stories in which women are depicted as 1950's
> good, dedicated and submissive housewives, cooking diner and taking care of
> kids.
> But seriously, in the few Bash manual sentences giving a male gender to the
> illustrative user character. This is light-years away of a worthy concern to
> me.
> I even predict this would get fixed with consensus if when more women will
> be involved in IT.

With the present techbro "culture", it might be going the opposite way.
It has to be fixed if one wants more women to be involved in IT, CS, and exact 
sciences (STEM).

As an academic, involved for many years in undegraduate and graduate 
admissions, and high school outreach,
in Singapore and UK,
I see a huge self-bias of females against being involved in IT and STEM, in no 
small measure due to
these little things like using male pronouns in  various relevant texts and 

All of this has litle to do with the latest "cancel culture" events (which are 
on the other hand
a result of the pressure cooker getting to the point of exploding - if gender 
etc equality was taken seriously
in the past 30 years these explosive things were not as explosive...)

> Interestingly for the story: In the 1960's and 1970's, when we were more
> widely seen as housewives, we were more represented in IT, science and
> engineering overall than of today, that gender equity and equality are
> accepted modern standards.

I know a number of French female academics, who would just laugh at the latter 
To start with, they, married, but retained their maiden surnames, say, X, 
cannot even manage to get
them addressed by official instances and businesses as Mme X,
and not "housewife of the house of Y" (which is what one French way
to addrress a married woman roughly means, IMHO).
One of them tells a "nice" story about her attempts to rent a flat in Marsielle,
where she has a job (while her spouse was based in CERN, Geneve, so she had to 
commute for years).
Of course a married woman trying to rent a flat in her name is a huge no-no in 
21st century France...

> And no, I can't believe rewriting Bash documentation with gender neutral is
> a good thing or that it can contribute to evening the balance of gender
> representation in IT either.

And as an academic, I am certain that it is a small step in the right direction,
using either gender neutral pro-nouns, or only female pronouns, or (ugly) 

> > > What word(s) are used in translations of the manual into languages other
> > > than
> > > English ? Do similar problems exist.
> > 
> > In mine, no. Turkish has only one pronoun for male, female, and inanimate.
> In mine, possessive pronouns are gendered to the possessed target.
> Example with current Bash documentation place that have been subject to
> these gender-neutral changes, translated to French:
> > in a non-writable directory other than his home directory after login,
> dans un r??pertoire autre que son r??pertoire HOME apr??s connexion,
>                              ^^^
> French "son" (his) is male because "r??pertoire" (directory) is male in
> French. User character's gender is not even mentioned.

I could tell you details of Russian grammar in that respect, where even verbs
might have different conjugactions depending on the geneder of the subject.
But this is all beside the point: languages and societies are conservative,
and changes towards fairness are difficult and even schokingi at times. Yet
they are needed.

Dmitrii Pasechnik

> -- 
> L??a Gris

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