The Grammar of Inequity

February 18, 2004 | 50 comments
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All this talk about scriptures brings up a perennial discussion topic which I think has so far gone undiscussed on Times & Seasons. Does it matter that the language of our scriptures is all based on older English usage which allowed the use of he/him/his to refer to persons of either gender? How about in our hymns?

I’ve borrowed the title of Lavina Anderson’s excellent essay on this topic as the title of my post partly to be provocative. I don’t agree with all of her conclusions in that essay, and I don’t think I feel as strongly about it as she does, but I think she makes important points. Here are a couple of them:

“[A common] argument is that “man” is a generic which includes “women” as part of “all mankind” I concede that the term has in fact been so used and still is. But I do not buy the argument. Rather I see “man” as a categorical nound, the existence of which implies a correspondent: man/woman. Other examples are husband/wife, parent/child, teacher/student, master/slave. Correspondence is not the same as inclusion. The category of “husband” predicts but does not include the category of “wife” any more than the category of “child” includes the category of “parent.”

It is an unfortunate historical and social fact that most of these categories connote hierarchy–subservience and superiority. Precisely for that reason, then, I think we should be both scrupulous and courteous in acknowledging the real existence of each category. If one cannot exist without the other, then both deserve to be named.”

I conclude with an experience of my own. Once, on a Sunday when the Sacrament Meeting was devoted to commemorating the founding of the Relief Society, I included “As Sisters in Zion” as the closing hymn. One member of the bishopric was troubled and came to tell me it was inappropriate for one gender to have to sing as if they were the other. I enthusiastically agreed with him and suggested that we draw up a list of hymns that would be inappropriate for mixed-gender gatherings based on that criterion. He got my point after I rattled off about a dozen hymns (including about half of the sacrament hymns) ;>)

So, what say you–does it matter?

50 Responses to The Grammar of Inequity

  1. Grasshopper on February 18, 2004 at 12:54 pm

    Test

  2. Nate Oman on February 18, 2004 at 1:13 pm

    Two points. This is a strange phenomena of Indo-European languages. We simply need a good neutered third person pronoun. Korean has “Ku bun,” which does quite nicely. Problem solved.

    Second point. Do you mean “Inequality” rather than “Inequity.” A lawyer’s quibble, but I take “equity” to refer to a kind of practical reasoning that is opposed to “law.” The idea is that we have formal rules and categories that in some cases are dramatically over or under inclusive. We thus look beyond these rules and categories to reach the “right” result despite the fact that our method of doing so is necessarily ad hoc and informal. I am just imagining how much more fun an essay on the grammar of inequity would be than an essay on the grammar of inequality. You could even throw in a reference to the chancellor’s foot!

    Sorry. Just the pervese dreams of a lawyer…

  3. Kori on February 18, 2004 at 1:27 pm

    I think it does matter, but I do not think it will ever change. I am a student, and I have worked very hard over the last few years to eliminate “sexist language” from my writing. It is difficult to remain geneder neutral without having awkward sentences. A lot of writers simply substitute he with she and him with her. While this is a nice change, it is still sexist language. Even today, I read case books that still use male terms as inclusive. Because eliminating sexist language often creates awkward writing, I don’t think any one will really want to tackle the scriptures. Furthermore, a lot of members my feel a change like that is completely unwarranted, and even offensive. IMHO.

  4. Randy on February 18, 2004 at 1:28 pm

    Nate, assume that there was a good neutered third person pronoun — perhaps the singular they. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they). What should we do? Anyone in favor of revising the Hymns? How about the scriptures?

  5. Randy on February 18, 2004 at 1:36 pm

    Link should not include the closing parentheses. Use this instead: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they

  6. Kristine on February 18, 2004 at 1:39 pm

    Nate–the title’s borrowed, so I don’t know precisely why Lavina would have used “inequity” instead of “inequality.” I think in ordinary (as opposed to lawyerly)usage, inequity carries a connotation of injustice, where inequality can be normatively neutral, reflecting a real, rather than an arbitrary difference. Inequity suggests that the difference it points to is wrong.

    Is there a linguist in the house?

  7. Gordon Smith on February 18, 2004 at 1:41 pm

    Kristine, Great post. Yes, it matters. And Nate is right that we could use a neutered pronoun. In the meantime, however, the scriptures pose a serious problem in this regard. As contemporary writing has become more conscious of gender, the unconscious slights in Elizabethan English have become more noticeable and the need to explain/clarify more pronounced.

    One thing that is missing from your post: do you have any suggestions for what one might do to address this? It seems to me that the Church as an institution has some responsibility to lead here, perhaps by finding or creating a more modern translation of the Bible. Doing the same for the Book of Mormon does not seem feasible, given the absence of an urtext. As for the hymns, why not revise them? It wouldn’t be the first time. (See, e.g., “Joy to the World” — “and SAINTS and angels sing”?!?)

    How about individual members? What should be done?

    (By the way, what was Grasshopper testing?)

  8. Grasshopper on February 18, 2004 at 1:47 pm

    Has anyone else noticed a trend in recent General Conference talks to make the language of the scriptures somewhat more gender-inclusive?

    (Gordon, what was I testing? Well, when Kristine first posted this item, it showed up on the home page, but clicking on the “Link” link returned a “404 not found” error. This happened once in the past with a post by Jim F., and I accidentally discovered that by posting a comment, I could make the 404 error go away and actually see the content of the post. I was testing whether that would work in this case, too. It did. :-) )

  9. Randy on February 18, 2004 at 1:49 pm

    I’m no linguist, but I do find these types of questions interesting. American Heritage Dictionary defines “inequity” as “1. injustice; unfairness. 2. An instance of injustice or unfairness.”

    Black’s Law Dictionary does not define “inequity” but does define “in equity” (two words) as “in a court of equity, as distinguished from a court of law; in the purview, consideration, or contemplation of equity; according to the doctrines of equity.” I haven’t read Anderson’s essay, but somehow I don’t think that is what she is talking about.

    Her use of inequity strikes me as entirely correct.

  10. Nate Oman on February 18, 2004 at 2:54 pm

    I take equity to be a particular kind of justice that is opposed to formal or procedural forms of justice. It is willing to sacrifice consistency and coherence in favor of good outcomes in particular cases. I found the idea of a grammar of inequity intriguing because I tend to think of grammar as a quintessentially formal exercise. Thus, the idea of equitable grammar is intriguing! However, what we are obviously talking about is inequality, that is the differential treatement of people that we think should be treated the same (ie men and women). Important, to be sure, but not — to my perverse mind — as playful and interesting as equitable grammar.

  11. Brent on February 18, 2004 at 4:27 pm

    “Does it matter that the language of our scriptures is all based on older English usage which allowed the use of he/him/his to refer to persons of either gender? How about in our hymns?”

    I guess I will be the odd man out and say, no it doesn’t really matter. The use of he/him/his does not, or rather, should not detract from the message of the scriptures or hymns. Of course, being a man, my opinion obviously is worth less, because I am genderally (new word) affected by the use of he/him/his? However, I still say, if we are overly focused on what to me seems a rather trivial matter, than we miss out on the intended message of the scriptures and hymns.

  12. Josiah on February 18, 2004 at 4:45 pm

    >>”[A common] argument is that “man” is a generic which includes “women” as part of “all mankind” I concede that the term has in fact been so used and still is. But I do not buy the argument. Rather I see “man” as a categorical nound, the existence of which implies a correspondent: man/woman. Other examples are husband/wife, parent/child, teacher/student, master/slave.<<

    I don’t think I understand what this means. Is the author claiming that in traditional useages, “man” never did refer to both men and women? If so, I take it the view is demonstrably false, and I can’t see why anyone would even think this unless they had some ax to grind.
    But I’m at a loss as to what else it could mean.

  13. Josiah on February 18, 2004 at 4:46 pm

    >>”[A common] argument is that “man” is a generic which includes “women” as part of “all mankind” I concede that the term has in fact been so used and still is. But I do not buy the argument. Rather I see “man” as a categorical nound, the existence of which implies a correspondent: man/woman. Other examples are husband/wife, parent/child, teacher/student, master/slave.<<

    I don’t think I understand what this means. Is the author claiming that in traditional useages, “man” never did refer to both men and women? If so, I take it the view is demonstrably false, and I can’t see why anyone would even think this unless they had some ax to grind.
    But I’m at a loss as to what else it could mean.

  14. Randy on February 18, 2004 at 4:47 pm

    Perhaps this notion of “equitable” (in Nate’s sense of the word) grammar explains Austen’s and Shakespear’s use of the “singular they” — doesn’t jive with the normal rules of grammar but results in a good outcome. Still wondering, anyone want to revise the standard works or the hymns?

  15. Melissa on February 18, 2004 at 5:14 pm

    There are some GA’s who are more conscious of this issue than others. Neal A. Maxwell has been speaking gender-inclusively for years. Elder Oaks often does as well.

    There are little ways that you can begin to raise consciousness and elicit change if you want to do so. For example, incorporating gender-neutral language is not difficult. I always sing the hymns in a gender-neutral way.
    (It is easy to substitute “us,” “we”, “one” “all” “other” or “another” when necessary). I also always read scriptures in a gender-neutral way in SS class.

  16. Greg Call on February 18, 2004 at 6:26 pm

    There was recently a discussion at Crooked Timber on this issue; see http://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/001311.html
    Anyone have a better gender-neutral version of “Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends”?

    I worked for a judge who was very, very serious about gender neutrality. As a result of her initiative, every judge, clerk, and editor in the New York State Court system receives a little pamphlet when they are hired entitled “Fair Speech: Gender Neutral Language in the Courts.” Perhaps a similar tract could be developed for the staff of all Church publications (assuming there isn’t one already). I would think that the hymns would be a bit tougher to fix up.

  17. Julie in Austin on February 18, 2004 at 6:33 pm

    I’ve always thought this was an interesting statement; it is from the CES teaching handbook:

    “Some scriptures are couched in masculine language due to the nature of the languages they were derived from. For example, in Hebrew, if one is addressing an audience of all females, feminine forms of verbs and pronouns are used. If the audience is mixed, however, then the masculine forms are always used. . . . teachers need to be sensitive to gender-specific language and remind students that some masculine terms refer to both males and females. When Adam was told that “all men, everywhere, must repent” (Moses 6:57), the Lord was certainly speaking of both men and women. . . . And Job’s statement that the “morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7) at the creation of the earth was not meant to imply it was an all male chorus!”

    It then goes on to say that references to divinity *are* deliberately masculine. Hmm.

  18. Kaimi on February 18, 2004 at 8:03 pm

    I don’t know, Kris. It sounds to me like you just need to Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel. After all, “The world has need of willing men . . . “

  19. Mardell on February 18, 2004 at 8:10 pm

    Yet we get roses every Mother’s Day. Are they trying to bribe us? We get a flowers to make us feel better about being left out of everything — hymns, church leadership, church decisions at any serious level.

    And what happened to the women? Like the words from Carry On, “on the rock our fathers planted.” What about the women who crossed the plains to become Brigham Young’s 41 wives? We’re told we’re the ones who raise the family –but it’s the rock the fathers planted? Where is our credit.? Right.

  20. Kristine on February 18, 2004 at 11:55 pm

    I agree with Brent (for the second time today–y’all should probably check your 72-hour kits!) that it would be silly to get hung up on a language issue and miss the real message of the scriptures. Nonetheless, I think it is important to pay attention to the way that exclusive language subtly undermines that message.

    I don’t know how one could go about changing. Where it can be done, I sing “all” for “man” and make similar changes in the hymns, but there’s no getting around “The world has need of willing men” (I can’t do “folk” or “folks” with a straight face; “souls” seems too earnest, etc.) or “when on this earth he comes again, to rule among the sons of men…” It often can’t be done, and a quick glance through, say, the 1980(ish) Presbyterian Hymnal ought to make one seriously doubt whether it should be done. I’m frankly not in favor of wholesale revisions and reprintings for two (at least) reasons:

    1) aesthetics–there are passages, like “greater love hath no man” or “the natural man is an enemy to God…” that are seriously weakened by the awkwardness of “man or woman”/”he or she.” I believe in a God who speaks inclusively, but also with all the force and eloquence our language can bring to bear. I don’t think we can easily resolve the paradox, although a less literalist approach to the scriptures and the routine study of translations other than the KJV would help us balance better.

    2) Scriptures and hymns have an historical context. Changing their language to fit current sensibilities inevitably does violence to them by ripping them out of that context. Something important is lost if we can’t see the sexism that marked society in both Old and New Testament times. Like Melissa, I usually insert feminine or gender-neutral terms when I read scriptures in Sunday School, where the goal is to “liken the scriptures” to ourselves, but I would not necessarily like to see them printed the way I read them. I have high hopes that the sexism, like the racism, violence, and idolatry evident in the scriptures, will someday be read as a cautionary tale, rather than as prescriptive or normative. To me, the essence of scripture is that it records people’s experience in a way that transcends both that experience and the text itself. It would be vain (in all the senses of that word) to try to write our own judgments of the text back into that text–scripture is always about escaping the judgment of each generation to transform itself for the next.

  21. Kristine on February 19, 2004 at 12:05 am

    Mardell, I’m with you on the invisibility of women’s contributions (and, generally, of their existence) in hymns. I think that rather than try to rewrite the existing hymns, we should include more written by and for women. Here’s the first one I’d put in–it was a suffrage song, composed by Louisa Greene Richards (for whom my daughter is named), to be sung to the tune of “Hope of Israel”:

    Woman, Arise

    Freedom’s daughter, rouse from slumber.
    See, the curtains are withdrawn,
    Which so long thy mind hath shrouded.
    Lo! Thy day begins to dawn.

    Chorus: Woman, ‘rise, thy penance o’er!
    Sit thou in the dust no more;
    Seize the scepter, hold the van–
    Equal with thy brother, Man.

    Truth and Virtue be thy motto,
    Temp’rance, Liberty, and Peace.
    Light shall shine and darkness vanish.
    Love shall reign, oppression cease.

    Chorus

    First to fall ‘mid Eden’s bowers,
    Through long suff’ring worthy proved.
    With the foremost claim thy pardon,
    When Earth’s curse shall be removed.

    Chorus

  22. greenfrog on February 19, 2004 at 12:37 am

    I (too?) wonder at the firmness of the conclusion that references in the scriptures (particularly the Old Testament) to male-gendered collective nouns should be understood to include female, but that references to the divine are intentionally (i.e., accurately) male.

    Was it intentional to refer to God as male? I have little doubt that it was intentional. Was it reliably accurate? That, it seems to me, is a different question entirely. It doesn’t seem to me that a group that believed women were property were likely to be receptive to (or perceptive of) a God embodied in female form.

  23. lyle on February 19, 2004 at 12:53 am

    Mardell has a great point! How come I don’t get Roses on Father’s day??? [besides the fact that my only children are two FHE Children]. Why am I not being bribed? I’m all for eliminating discrimination.

    really…i just don’t get it. what is the big deal? so what if men are a subset of women? I’m not offended that wo(men) have something more than just plain olde men. I’m proud of who I am…even if I am two letters less important than a woman, and always fated to be included as a subset. Isn’t this true genetically also? i.e. the basic embryo is female…unless the male chromosome is added?

  24. Grasshopper on February 19, 2004 at 12:55 am

    And yet, somehow, there remain traces of the Divine feminine in the Old Testament…

  25. lyle on February 19, 2004 at 12:56 am

    Oh Green “one”:

    accurate? Didn’t Joseph Smith answer this one for us? both via the first vision and revelation establishing the existence of a Heavenly Mother, i.e. that God is like an office, which only a man and a woman who are sealed together, can fill?

  26. Grasshopper on February 19, 2004 at 12:56 am

    (sorry, that last comment was in response to greenfrog)

  27. Kaimi on February 19, 2004 at 9:13 am

    Kristine,

    Mardell and I were just discussing what a verse would be like that would reflect women’s experiences and treatment. We thought the following might be a start:

    The world has need of women too, to clean, and cook the meals,
    To sweep the halls and mop the floors, and put potatoes with the veal,

    Put potatoes with the veal, cook along,
    Do the dishes with a heart full of song,
    It’s “women’s work,” so don’t you shirk,
    Put potatoes with the veal.

    How’s that for a customized-for-LDS-women hymn?

  28. Mardell on February 19, 2004 at 9:18 am

    Don’t worry Kristine, Kaimi will be doing dishes for a week for that post.

  29. ben on February 19, 2004 at 10:14 am

    Greenfrog said: It doesn’t seem to me that a group that believed women were property were likely to be receptive to (or perceptive of) a God embodied in female form.

    Ben replies: Though the OT is clearly not a feminist utopia, the characterization of women as property isn’t entirely accurate, (but is a common perception). From the Anchor Bible dictionary under “Family”: The common translation, “bride-price” is very misleading in giving rise to the idea that marriage in Israel was solely a matter of purchase. (In fact, the etymology and precise meaning of môhar is not at all clear, either in the OT or the comparative material which scholars have relied on heavily.) This view, and its oft-repeated correlates, that wives in Israel were chattel property and that adultery was simply a property offense, cannot be supported from a careful study of the laws and narratives about wives in the OT….Daughters were considered a father’s property, but that status did not continue after marriage; concubines were purchased slaves [thus subject to slave laws and customs]; but the status of wives was legally and socially quite distinct….Scholarly research in this century on the status of women in general and wives in particular in ancient Israel has tended steadily to the consensus that the older view of marriage by purchase and wives as chattels is simply untenable.”

    One of the texts that sheds light on women is the last half of Proverbs 31, now recited by Jews after meals. the topic is “who is a capable wife?” Among traditional things like preparation of food and clothing, it indicates that an ideal wife had some control of family finances as well as the right to initiate business decisions and purchase of property. How often this manifested itself is of course, another question, but the data do not support the blanket statement that women were property.

  30. Gordon Smith on February 19, 2004 at 10:17 am

    Kaimi, It’s only 8:20 am, and you already made my day. That is the funniest thing I have read on this blog! Thanks for sharing. And good luck with those dishes!

  31. Kristine on February 19, 2004 at 10:25 am

    shpnurfhahahaha!

    (That’s the closest I can get to typing the sound of Diet Coke splurting through my nose as a prelude to helpless, sputtering laughter when I read this!)

  32. Kristine on February 19, 2004 at 10:28 am

    uh, I hope it’s apparent, but “this” in my above post refers to Kaimi’s song, not to Ben’s intelligent and not at all hilarious comment :)

  33. Kristine on February 19, 2004 at 10:29 am

    shpnurfhahahaha!

    (That’s the closest I can get to typing the sound of Diet Coke splurting through my nose as a prelude to helpless, sputtering laughter when I read this!)

  34. ben on February 19, 2004 at 10:32 am

    What’s interesting is that in other ABD articles, it perpetuates this older idea of women as chattel, contradicted by the author of the “family” article.
    On another topic, it is likely that there was more of the divine feminine in the old testament before it reached its present form. Certainly, from archaeological evidence, every day religion in Israel had plenty of room for feminine divinity. For example, thousands of small feminine figurines have been found in excavations near the temple mount(!) in Jerusalem. These figurines are, according to some, representations of the goddess Asherah, the consort of Jehovah in an earlier strain of Israelite thought. Again, as the OT currently stands, little mention is made of such things except to criticise them, but the fact that they were found at the temple mount in such numbers is interpreted by some to mean that it was embraced wholeheartedly by the official (e.g. temple) religion at some point.

  35. Taylor on February 19, 2004 at 10:40 am

    Ben, great posts!
    Asherah worship was practiced at the temple, which is one of the reasons for the various “reform” movements in Judea, including Josiah’s cleansing of the temple.
    Also, much of the book of Proverbs glorifies “Wisdom” in language that sounds an awful lot like a female consort of God.

  36. Grasshopper on February 19, 2004 at 10:53 am

    And Dan Peterson finds some interesting possible traces of this in the Book of Mormon in his excellent “Nephi and His Asherah”.

  37. Nate Oman on February 19, 2004 at 12:14 pm

    On Women as Chattel: Let me reiterate some of what Ben has said about treating women as property. We need to be very careful when talking about slavery in the ancient context. Our images of slavery tend to center around black slavery in America. This was a particularlly pernicious form of slaverly, largely because it was practiced by Christians, who had a long tradition of ambivalence or hostility to older forms of slavery. To get around this tradition, slavery apologists created racial theologies that justified treating blacks as sub-human.

    In contrast, in the ancient world slavery was simply a status in a largely status ordered society. It created certain duties and limited certain rights. It was not tied to any sort of concept of racial inferiority. Aristotle did argue for the natural inferiority of certain people, but it is not clear that his theorizing had much impact on the legal system. I know very little about ancient Israelite law, but I do know that the Roman jurists remained implacably indifferent to namby-pamby Greek theorizing. Thus, slaves had certain rights to decent treatment (especially under the empire), had de facto rights to property (the peculiam; although the precise status of this is a bit of mystery), and many of them occupied positions of quite high status. (Of course many of them, particularlly “industrial” slaves who worked mines or large estates had fairly rotten lives.)

    Furthermore, the obsession with status in ancient law meant that (and again what I [sort of] know is Roman law) the duties and obligations of wives, sons, daughters, etc. were carefully delineated.

    The Romans had a ritual very similar to the “bride price” of the ancient Israelites where by a man would go through a ritual purchase of his wife from her father. These kinds of marriages did not make the wife into the property of the husband, however. For legal purposes they had the same effect as an adoption, making the wife (for legal purposes) into the daughter of her husband. Furthermore, for the Romans this kind of marriage (manus) was the exception rather than the rule. Most Roman marraiges were thought of as contracts, more or less terminable at will, which limited the authority of husbands over wives, who remained de jure under the potestas of their fathers. Although, easy divorce in Roman law seems to have worked to the de facto detriment of women, which is one of the reasons that Christian theologians seized upon anti-divorce language in Christ’s teachings as a way of making divorce more difficult under the law of the empire.

    A long a useless aside, but it is important to remember that while the ancient world may not be a promised land of campanionate, partnership marriages, simple notions of chatell slavery are almost certainly inaccurate.

  38. Bob Caswell on February 19, 2004 at 3:19 pm

    Our language doesn’t really facilitate gender neutrality very well. Even if it does, you have to be consciously trying and relatively educated for it to work.

    I find that if I use she/her rather than he/him when trying to speak in a neutral fashion, no one really cares. I never have a group of men come up to me and explain how they were left out.

    This is just all too complicated for us everyday folk to worry about in our daily speech. Will you women be happy if we men switch the standard to feminine pronouns? Because it should take at least my lifetime before men would start feeling left out. I think this would be the quickest fix.

  39. cooper on February 19, 2004 at 4:31 pm

    Interesting sidebar to this discussion: I was perusing joannejacobs.com (eduaction blog) and she has at thread linking to an op-ed at opinion journal regarding NY state guidleines for editing offending words. Pretty interesting op-ed:

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110004691

    I think this is what happens when the “language police” have too much time on their hands.

  40. kristine on February 20, 2004 at 3:04 pm

    Cooper–I just heard someone on NPR say “craftspersonship”–YUCK!!

  41. Nate Oman on February 20, 2004 at 3:12 pm

    If only that were the only thing about NPR to go “yuck over.”

  42. Kristine on February 20, 2004 at 3:14 pm

    Nate–is that a rant coming on? Should I ask another question to goad you? Or just mention that my daughter has a doll named Nina after Nina Totenberg?

  43. Nate Oman on February 20, 2004 at 3:18 pm

    Let’s just say that I have Nina problems…

    I also have Linda Greenhouse problems…

    In fact, I can’t think of a single newspaper or broadcast journalist covering the Supreme Court that is not basically a ninny…

  44. Kristine on February 20, 2004 at 3:41 pm

    So what should we mere mortals be doing to understand the goings-on there? (Assume, for the moment, that law school is out of the question)

  45. Kaimi on February 21, 2004 at 12:37 am

    Nate,

    1. Define “ninny,” please. It’s a loose enough term that it could be thrown around with impunity if not well defined;

    2. What about Dahlia?

  46. mike on August 20, 2004 at 8:04 pm

    There have been some wonderful posts here.
    I agree with Kristine’s reasons for not changing much of the text we have- in terms of my own usage I have always been a fan of the singular they, unfortunately some of my professors aren’t.

    (I do think that “all his children” could possibly be a replacement for “the sons of men” but I agree that asthetically the change isn’t perfect nor desirable.)

  47. mike on August 20, 2004 at 8:05 pm

    There have been some wonderful posts here.
    I agree with Kristine’s reasons for not changing much of the text we have- in terms of my own usage I have always been a fan of the singular they, unfortunately some of my professors aren’t.

    (I do think that “all his children” could possibly be a replacement for “the sons of men” but I agree that asthetically the change isn’t perfect nor desirable.)

  48. mike on August 20, 2004 at 8:07 pm

    There have been some wonderful posts here.
    I agree with Kristine’s reasons for not changing much of the text we have- in terms of my own usage I have always been a fan of the singular they, unfortunately some of my professors aren’t.

    (I do think that “all his children” could possibly be a replacement for “the sons of men” but I agree that asthetically the change isn’t perfect nor desirable.)

  49. Renee on August 21, 2004 at 8:03 pm

    I don’t doubt this concerns some women (and men) genuinely. I read this post and comments and swear I could hear Helen Reddy in the background belting out “I am woman”.

    To me personally, it’s much ado about nothing but that doesn’t diminish that it’s an issue to others.

    It does leave me wondering, though, why many continue to stay in a patriarchal church when it is evident they oppose that system?

  50. Dr. Tarr on August 21, 2004 at 8:13 pm

    “It does leave me wondering, though, why many continue to stay in a patriarchal church when it is evident they oppose that system?”

    Perhaps because, even though the members have warped the organization horribly, the “many” still know its doctrines to be true?