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Why He, Not She?

Do you ever look back to recollect or to introspect what you were taught or what you learned?


This article is my memoir of how I started recognizing gender discrimination in the most subtle way possible. At present time we all are on high alert when we hear the word ‘gender’, but are we really free from the biases and discriminations injected into our minds by society in different forms, or are we really cautious enough to recognize the supremacy of patriarchy every corner, in each step of our life?

I was taught gender when I was a child. Like other children, I learned it without any prenotions. It was written on a white paper if you want to refer to a man, write ‘he’ as a pronoun, if a woman, then ‘she’. I kept on writing as I was taught, I was instructed.

I was yet to be a teenager. I was yet to think logically. I was yet to keep my arguments, I was yet to raise concerns. A child noticed everywhere in every sentence which did not have any female to address or as a protagonist, obviously there you would not find ‘she’. But when there was no mention of any particular man as protagonist or whatsoever… like in general addresses or examples of any person, there was always ‘he’. But why he, not she?

Wait! my mind was yet to be gendered. It was yet to echo equality. It was yet to learn the term ‘Feminism’. Then what was it that had hammered my mind? Actually, there were two things-

One, the monotony of ‘he’ was everywhere.

Two, I learned another pronoun of a person, which was she.

Well, I still have this habit of doing experiments. Like if I learn something new I try to practice it almost everywhere and every way possible; and when it is a word, a new one I try to put it in every sentence which may need the meaning of the word. Sometimes for the word the sentence looks over-furnished or sometimes it just performs its mere duty, but I put it anyway. As a child obviously I was more fearless in experiments. It was the time when people did not seek maturity from you, did not expect sense from you, you did not have to justify your being yourself.

I started writing ‘she’ wherever I got the opportunity. Thank God! my copies were not corrected because of this. That means it was never a compulsion to write ‘he’ in general sentences where no particular person was to be mentioned. You just do not need to bother about that person’s gender.

My writing did not change the texts. Those were still filled with ‘he’, not ‘she.’ In an obvious way, it was getting inscribed in my mind that I lost my efforts. I also started writing ‘he’.

Again the experimental bug bit me. How about if you write ‘she’ instead of ‘he?’ I started writing ‘s/he’, ‘her/his’. The teacher said, “Distracting. Write any one” and she circled on ‘he’, not on ‘she.’

The texts are still filled with ‘he.’ Ideal person or criminal, unnamed in general they all are ‘he.’

Then what is the point of learning ‘she?’

I might have recognized this particular supremacy, but I fear that I may fail to recognize some of these small applications which have a greater impact. Do share with me something which you identified as a warning.

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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