In my previous article “Women Are Not Small Dogs” I presented a short list of tips that I hoped people might find useful in writing female characters. Thank you to everyone who read it. To follow up, I decided to write another article providing tips for non-fiction articles. I hope people find this article useful.
- Men Aren’t Everyone: Don’t use words like “People” and “Everyone” when you are referring specifically to men. This is one of those things that is so common you don’t even notice it. But, once you notice it, you realize that this is everywhere.
- Not Everyone Is a Man: Don’t use words like “Men” or “Guys” when you are speaking generally about everyone. Once again, you’d be shocked at how often this happens.
- Women Read, Too: When you write an article and address the reader as “You,” do not assume that the reader is male; especially when you are writing on a gender –neutral subject. Once again, you’d be surprised how many completely neutral writing, science, or computer articles will address the reader as “You” and then make statements that assume that “You” are male.
- Being a Man Is Morally Neutral: Avoid saying someone should “Man up” or “Be a man” when you think they should do something good, or saying that someone is “not a real man” when someone has done something bad. Being male and being female are both intrinsically neutral. Maleness is not a virtue, and equating masculinity with virtue makes no sense. What does being male have to do with virtue? Objectively, nothing.
- A Woman Is an Adult: Women are adults. Girls are children. Both men and women may refer to adults of either gender in the child form. This is obviously fine in an informal setting if everyone is comfortable with it. However, when writing professionally, it trivializes female contributions to the subject you’re writing about to refer to them as children.
Most of these things are so common and seem so normal that most people do them without even thinking. Writing this article, I myself had to edit it several times to keep from directing my article to male readers. I’ve seen women do these things, too. But, when everyone works together to take care of these smaller things, and we are no longer so used to them that we no longer see them, we can then begin to change the way we all see ourselves and each other and work towards true equality.