Ban Sexist Writing Now!

The bad news is that there is subtle sexism at play in our language and writing conventions. The other bad news is that lawyers are fairly insensitive to the divide and are not particularly proactive in modifying these conventions through the use of gender-neutral pronouns. The Legal Writing Prof Blog references an article on the topic by Pat Chew and Lauren Kelly-Chew abstracted over at the the Social Science Research Network entitled Subtly Sexist Language. The authors discuss research of “hundreds of legal documents”, including judicial opinions, legal briefs and law review articles, that exhibit dominant use of male pronouns in most of the word pairs examined. The articles are published at the U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2008-30 and Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Vol. 16, p. 643, 2007. The article includes proactive suggestions for altering the language from its pro-male bent and a guide on gender neutral language tailored to the legal community.

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