"I believe that gendered writing . . . will one day be immediately recognized as archaic and ludicrous." Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, A Brief for Gender-Neutral Brief-Writing, N.Y.L.J., 21 Mar. 1991, at 2.
It is, of course, considered such today, a “mere” twenty-some years later. But the attempt to remove any gender from writing still often leads to idiotic results.
For example, yesterday in the scripture reading at church, the translation being read coordinated “anyone” with “they.” This is now done routinely both in writing and in speech. For example, “If anyone lost a cell phone, they may pick it up at the lost-and-found.” The problem with this is that “anyone” is singular, while “they” is plural.
We still sense this because almost never do we read or here something like, “Almost anyone are able to solve that problem.” It sounds wrong because it is wrong. It should be “Almost anyone is . . .” because the singular “is” goes with the singular “anyone.”
The problem is that in the original example, to make the singular “anyone” match the next singular pronoun, we can choose only from this list: he, she, it. The “it” is ruled out because the owner of a cell phone will (usually?!?) be a person. The convention used to be the use of “he” when the person was unknown. It was not an attack on women. It really had nothing to do whether the sex of the person in question was male for female. It was just a convention.
But it offended the idiotic sensibilities of most feminists, and those idiotic sensibilities have been slowly, carefully, and deliberately foisted on all of us in the last thirty years or so.
After trying to accommodate these idiotic sensibilities with things like “he/she” or “s/he” – or even randomly picking “he” or “she” for no apparent reason – we seem to have landed on the even more ridiculous coordination of the singular “anyone” with the plural “they.”
I was a little surprised to see that in a Bible translation. There are all sorts of work-arounds that are used to avoid “gendered language” in certain situations. After all, one doesn’t want to sound “archaic and ludicrous” does one?
But this particular and often-used construction has no clever work-around. It stands as a kind of monument to the idiocy of certain kinds of feminist sensibilities in our culture.
So pay attention when you read or hear these singular words: anyone, someone, anybody, somebody, everyone, everybody – and maybe some others that don’t come to mind just now. Think to yourself, “I would never say, ‘Someone are’ would I?” Then see if it is matched up with the plural “they.”
Then say to yourself, “Thank you, feminist culture, for this little monument to your own stupidity.” The feminists won the culture war, no doubt about that. But we can at least be thankful for this little reminder of the idiocy of it all.