|Bible Research > English Versions > Gender-Neutral > Style Guide|
The following "inclusive" style instructions are from the InterVarsity Press Style Guide (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2001), pp. 24-25. The historical background for the use of such guidelines among educational publishers is given in Diane Ravitch, The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (New York: Random House, 2003).
(Most of the material in this section has been adapted from "Guidelines for Equal Treatment of the Sexes in McGraw-Hill Book Company Publications.")
Men and women should be treated primarily as people and not primarily as members of opposite sexes. Their shared humanity and common attributes should be stressed—not their gender difference. Neither sex should be stereotyped or arbitrarily assigned to a leading or secondary role. Women should be portrayed as active participants in the same proportion as men in stories, examples, problems, illustrations, discussion questions and exercises, regardless of subject matter. Women should not be stereotyped in examples by being spoken of only in connection with cooking, sewing, shopping and similar activities. Women with a profession should be shown at all professional levels, including the top levels.
Similarly, men should not be shown as constantly subject to the "masculine mystique" in their interests, attitudes or careers. They should not be portrayed as finding their selfworth entirely in their income or the status of their jobs. Men as well as women should be shown as nurses, secretaries, librarians and switchboard operators.
All work should be treated as respectable.
Members of both sexes should be represented as whole human beings with human strengths and weaknesses, not masculine or feminine ones. Women should be shown as having the same abilities, interests and ambitions as men. Stereotypes of the logical, objective male and the emotional, subjective female are to be avoided. (See example 1 in appendix 3, p. 41.) Women should be spoken of as participants in the action, not as possessions of men. Terms such as pioneer, farmer and settler should not be used as though they applied only to adult males. Women should not be portrayed as needing male permission in order to act or to exercise rights, except for historical or factual accuracy. (See 2 in appendix 3, p. 41.)
In references to humanity at large, language should operate to include women. Terms that tend to exclude females should be avoided whenever possible.
Alternative expressions should be used in place of man (or derivative constructions used generically to signify humanity at large) whenever such substitutions can be made without producing an awkward or artificial construction. In cases where man words must be used, special efforts should be made to ensure that pictures and other devices make explicit that such references include women. (For possible man-word substitutions see 3 in appendix 3, p. 42.)
a. Pronouns. The English language lacks a generic singular pronoun signifying he or she, and therefore it has been customary and grammatically sanctioned to use masculine pronouns in expressions such as "one . . . he," "anyone . . . he" and "each child opens his book." Nevertheless, when possible, avoid the pronouns he, him and his in reference to the hypothetical person or humanity in general. Various alternatives may be considered:
1. Reword to eliminate unnecessary gender pronouns. For example, change "The average American drinks his coffee black" to "The average American drinks black coffee."
2. Recast into the plural. (Often the best alternative.) "Most Americans drink their coffee black."
3. Replace the masculine pronoun with he or she, her or his, as appropriate. (Use he or she and its variations sparingly to avoid clumsy prose.)
4. Alternate male and female expressions and examples. (See 4 in appendix 3, p. 42.) These guidelines can only suggest a few solutions to difficult problems of rewording. The proper solution in any given passage must depend on the context and on the author's intention.
b. Occupations. Occupational terms ending in man should be replaced whenever possible by terms that can include members of either sex. (See 5 in appendix 3, p. 42.) Different pronouns should not be linked with certain work or occupations on the assumption that the worker is always (or usually) female or male. Instead either pluralize or use he or she and she or he.
The language used to designate and describe females and males should treat the sexes equally. Males should not always be first in order of mention. Instead, alternate the order, sometimes using women and men, gentlemen and ladies, she or he, her or his.
Parallel language should be used for women and men. Thus "the men and the ladies" becomes either "the men and the women" or "the ladies and the gentlemen," and "man and wife" becomes "husband and wife." Note that lady and gentleman, wife and husband, mother and father are role words. Ladies should be used for women only when men are being referred to as gentlemen. Similarly, women should be called wives and mothers only when men are referred to as husbands and fathers.
Women should be identified by their own names (e.g., Indira Gandhi). They should not be referred to in terms of their roles as wife, mother, sister or daughter unless it is in these roles that they are significant in context. Nor should they be identified in terms of their marital relationship (Mrs. Gandhi) unless this brief form is stylistically more convenient (than, say, Prime Minister Gandhi) or is paired up with similar references to men. (See 6 in appendix 3, p. 43.)
The NIV, one of our standard translations, often does not use inclusive language. If this proves particularly awkward, try using the NRSV instead either for particular verses or for the entire book; do not do the latter without the author's approval.
|Henry Harris is a shrewd lawyer and his wife, Ann, is a striking brunette.||The Harrises are an attractive couple. Henry is a handsome blond and Ann is a striking brunette. Or, The Harrises are highly respected in their fields. Ann is an accomplished musician and Henry is a shrewd lawyer.|
|the girls or the ladies (when adult females are meant)||The women|
|girl, as in: I'll have my girl check that.||I'll have my secretary (or my assistant) check that. (Or use the person's name.)|
|the little woman; the better half; the ball and chain||wife|
|authoress, poetess, Jewess, suffragette, usherette, aviatrix, deaconess||Author, poet, Jew, suffragist, usher, aviator, pilot, deacon|
|Housewife||homemaker for a person who works at home, or rephrase with a more precise or more inclusive term|
|career girl or career woman||attorney Ellen Smith; Maria Sanchez, a journalist (or editor, business executive, doctor, lawyer)|
|Cleaning woman, cleaning lady or maid||housekeeper, house or office cleaner|
|Pioneers moved west, taking their wives and children with them.||Pioneer families moved west. Or Pioneer men and women (or pioneer couples) moved west, taking their children with them.|
|man, mankind||humanity, human beings, human race, people, persons, humankind, flesh and blood|
|man's achievements||human achievements|
|If a man drove fifty miles . . .||If a person (a driver; someone) drove fifty miles. . .|
|Manmade||artificial; synthetic; manufactured; constructed; of human origin; humanly made|
|Manpower||human power; workers; workforce, human resources|
|the doctrine of man||The biblical view of human nature; the theological understanding of human nature; theological anthropology|
|I've often heard supervisors say, "He's not the right man for the job," or "He just lacks the qualifications."||I've often heard supervisors say, "She's not the right person for the job," or "He just lacks the qualifications."|
|Congressman||member of Congress; representative (but Congressman Koch and Congresswoman Holtzman)|
|Businessman||business executive; business manager; merchant|
|Mailman||mail carrier; letter carrier|
|Salesman||sales representative; sales clerk|
|Spokesman||speaker or representative|
|Chairman||person presiding at (or chairing) a meeting; presiding officer; the chair; head; leader; coordinator; moderator|
|steward, stewardess||flight attendant|
|Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean||Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, Billie Jean and Riggs, Billie Jean and Bobby, Mrs. King and Riggs, King and Riggs, or, Ms. King (because she prefers Ms.) and Mr. Riggs|
|Mrs. Meir and Moshe Dayan||Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan, or, Mrs. Meir and Mr. Dayan|
|Bible Research > English Versions > Gender-Neutral > Style Guide|