On pronoun police

“Can you ever be friends with your boss? Sure you can, but never forget that in his role as your boss he is not your friend.”

Interesting that you chose a masculine pronoun there for a question in which gender wasn’t specified. I understand that “he” is often the default, but I thought that in this context, the grammatical reinforcement of boss = male wasn’t helpful.

In some ways this shit could seem pedantic and wholly inconsequential. On the other hand, you’d call someone out for this, so I’m just returning the favor.

Personally, I have no problem using the masculine singular (he/his) as the default pronoun. Using the neuter plural (they/their) in place of a singular pronoun drives me fucking crazy, and using the feminine singular (she/her) usually has political and ironic implications that end up being more problematic than just defaulting to the masculine singular.

That’s certainly the case here. If I had said, “never forget that in her role as your boss, she is not your friend,” that would have added an extra layer of undesirable meaning. The humorless cunt brigade would have written just as many angry letters accusing me of calling female bosses duplicitous as wrote me angry letters for defaulting to the masculine singular pronoun. (Yes, I got several letters.)

There are times when defaulting to the feminine singular is necessary for emphasis, but this wasn’t one of those times. Also, I’m just not the type to write with my elbows to avoid using gendered language.

Sorry, kids. Life is full of double standards and awkward pronouns. Get used to it, and learn to pick your fucking battles.


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