Generic pronouns and sexist language: The oxymoronic character of masculine generics

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Abstract

This experiment investigated the propensity of the generic he to evoke images of males relative to he/she and the plural they. Undergraduates read sentences aloud and verbally described the images that came to mind. The results provide strong support for the hypothesis that the generic he evokes a disproportionate number of male images. Results also suggest that while the plural they functions as a generic pronoun for both males and females, males may comprehend he/she in a manner similar to he. Theoretical implications for a critique of sexist language and prescribing generic pronoun usage are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-643
Number of pages15
JournalSex Roles
Volume23
Issue number11-12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 1990

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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