she as a gender-neutral pronoun

Paul Frank paulfrank at POST.HARVARD.EDU
Fri Jan 7 04:45:44 UTC 2011

Federico quoted:

> "The virtue of compassion requires us to put ourselves consistently in
> somebody else's shoes, to feel his pain as though it were our own, and to
> enter generously into her point of view."

I have no problem with "she" as a gender-neutral pronoun, nor with
"they," nor in fact with "he," and mixing "he" and "she" in the space
of a few paragraphs to talk about the same non-specified person often
works more or less, but doing so in one sentence sounds too artificial
to me. Here Karen Armstrong (whose book a History of God I loved)
seems to be talking about a person whose gender is interchangeable,
which doesn't make sense.


Paul Frank
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