Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Marketing man – or woman?

with 6 comments

English: A business ideally is continually see...

So, there I was, innocently — and rather tragically — reading my copy of  the Blogger’s Handbook when I came across this introductory paragraph in large typeface on page 172:

The corporate blog is fast becoming an important tool for the modern-day marketing man.

Not so vital for the modern-day marketing woman then? Perhaps she has other tricks up her particular marketing sleeve.

This unforgiveable women-exclusive language could so easily have been rectified. For example:

The corporate blog is fast becoming an important tool for modern-day marketing.

Read more on the gratuitous modifier

Top scientist or top female scientist? 

He or she — or they?

She’s so intolerant, but he doesn’t suffer fools gladly

She’s such a tomboy

Old wives’ tales — good or bad?

Ladies first?

Jack of all trades

Sorting the women from the girls

When is a man not a man?

Am I allowed to say that?


6 Responses

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  1. Sensitivity to gender does not necessarily produce positive results. As I listened to sports radio in the car tonight, the announcer (a male, natch) said, “Go to your boss and tell him–I mean, he or she….”

    Michael Farrell

    14/01/2010 at 4:02 am

    • At least he tried! Thanks for that. It’s interesting how our traditionally female-exclusive way of speaking and writing causes such problems when we try to rectify it.

      Here’s some info on avoiding clumsy ‘he or she’ phrases.


      14/01/2010 at 11:00 am

      • I foremost blame the abysmal English of most sports journalists. Matched only by TV presenters.

        I’m afraid I’m a strict grammarian, then, fond of old-fashioned tosh. I agree with your etymology on the longstanding numberless/genderless use of “they/their,” but it still sticks in my craw. In the heading you gave, why not re-write to “They all tried …,” etc.? If you can be gender-neutral and still logically consistent in pronouns, why not do it?

        Michael Farrell

        14/01/2010 at 3:59 pm

        • Hi, Michael — thanks for this.

          I think you’re referring to my post about the use of ‘they’ to mean ‘he or she’ etc? http://dbennison.wordpress.com/2010/01/02/he-or-she-or-they/

          A lot of people would agree with you and stick with their old fashioned tosh. As you say — there is no reason why such sentences cannot be rewritten in the way you suggest to be more inclusive.

          Many thanks!


          14/01/2010 at 6:07 pm

          • Yes, that was my ref. Sorry not to be more clear.

            Michael Farrell

            14/01/2010 at 6:15 pm

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