Re: Help! Need neutral hist. fiction...

Linda Purrington (
Tue, 18 Aug 1998 10:13:37 -0700

Hi, Bill: I just read Susan Carter's post, which addresses your term
"gender neutral" by using the counterpoint "gender fair." This is
important: there is nothing that is gender neutral; our world is so
divided socially by gender that it is pretty hard to suggest gender
neutral anything, unless we get into the science fiction relationships
of future rocks. And this is also an important point for writers and
users of textbooks: if you recast a discussion as gender neutral, you
may misrepresent social reality.

If you say the Pilgrims rowed to shore, you mean the men. If you say
that domestic violence was not illegal in the past, you mean men's
domestic violence. If you say that women were given the right to vote,
you use the passive voice to suggest a gender neutrality that is
inexact, to say the least, and does not show the need for and rewards of
activism. So Susan's point is an important one--and a classroom teacher
alert to the problem can bridge the gap for students by providing them
with the same alertness to false gender neutrality. Once they have the
ability to analyze the patterns of misrepresentation, they will be able
to think more critically all their lives, about all kinds of materials.

Linda Purrington
Title IX Advocates

Bill Oetjen wrote:
... suggest some gender neutral fiction that corresponds
> with those themes.

new message to this message