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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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Jim Vesely
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Jim Vesely
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Lee Moriwaki
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Lee Moriwaki
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Eric Devericks
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Lance Dickie
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Bruce Ramsey
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Kate Riley
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Lynne Varner
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Ryan Blethen
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Ryan Blethen
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April 15, 2004

All those men drivers

A reader phones in a complaint about our Wednesday editorial.

He says, “What makes you think that all folks that are impounded are male? Throughout the entire editorial, everything I read was ‘his car,’ ‘his this,’ ‘his that,’ ‘he’ and ‘him.’ Once again, your paper has managed to demonize the male… In the future, I hope it’s ‘their cars’ and ‘they’ have a problem.”

I’m the non-self-hating male who wrote the editorial. I’ll make two points:

First, according to a study of Seattle’s impounds, in the year ended Jan. 31, 2000, 81 percent of the drivers of impounded cars were, in fact, men. That’s more than four out of five.

Second, in the English language, the singular pronoun of indefinite gender is “he.” You say, “a driver has to stop his car.” This does not imply that the driver is male. I know that people have begun to say, “a driver has to stop their car,” in an effort to avoid “sexist language,” but it is not standard English, at least not yet. “Their” is plural. Academics, realizing this, have turned to alternating between “he” and “she” for indefinite pronouns.

Put me down as a reactionary, but I think it rattles in the skull.

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Posted by Bruce Ramsey at April 15, 2004 12:56 PM



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