Published: 27th January 2020
Learning the English language: Here are some of the gender-sensitive usages explained
The word ‘shero’ is commonly used these days. The word ‘hero’ is used to refer to a man who is admired for his courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities
Every year, major dictionaries announce their word of the year. For example, The Oxford Word of the Year 2019 is ‘climate emergency’, The Collins Word of the Year 2019 is ‘climate strike’ and The Cambridge Word of the Year 2019 is ‘upcycling’. What is the word of the decade 2010-2019? The American Dialect Society has named singular ‘they’ as its word of the decade, recognising the growing use of the third-person plural pronoun as a singular form to refer to people who identify their gender as neither male nor female. Gender-neutral singular ‘they’ was The American Dialect Society’s Word of the Year 2015.
The word can be used when we do not want to specify the gender of a person. Here are examples:
Every student wants to meet their class teacher now.
Everyone loves their parents. They can’t give reasons for loving their parents.
The teacher should explain their problem first before they ask their students to explain.
No one has to meet the teacher if they don’t want to.
In September 2019, Merriam-Webster added the gender-neutral pronouns ‘they’ and ‘themself’ to the dictionary. The LGBTQ community advocates the use of the singular ‘they’ to refer to non-binary people who do not identify themselves as exclusively men or women.
Let’s look at some new gender-related words.
Who is a ‘shero’?
The word ‘shero’ is commonly used these days. The word ‘hero’ is used to refer to a man who is admired for his courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities. Though ‘heroine’, the feminine form of the word ‘hero’, refers to a woman with outstanding achievements and great qualities, many use the word to convey this meaning: the main character in a movie, play or novel. For the sake of convenience and to convey the intended meaning (a female hero) effectively, ‘shero’ was coined. Some argue that ‘hero’ itself is a gender-neutral noun and therefore ‘shero’ is redundant but feminists are of the view that ‘hero’ is gender-specific (it refers to a male) and therefore ‘shero’ is quite a meaningful word.
Here are examples of how the word is used in sentences:
Some dads are heroes but most moms are sheroes.
There are many reasons why Serena Williams is considered a shero.
According to the Urban Dictionary, even a man can be described as a ‘shero’ if he supports women’s rights and respect women’s issues. Let’s look at this example:
Joss Whedon is my shero. He works with Equality Now, an organization working to end violence and discrimination against women across the world.
What is the meaning of ‘misgender’?
The act of identifying the gender of a person, such as a transsexual person, incorrectly by using an incorrect label or pronoun is called misgendering. For example, referring to a man as ‘she’ or calling a woman as a ‘guy’ is an act of misgendering.