Genders: Nonsexist writing

February 14, 2002: Issue 10

SIM STYLE: On nonsexist writing

Nonsexist writing is more than saying artisan instead of craftsman, or artificial instead of man-made. Avoiding more subtle sexism means avoiding making assumptions about readers.

We shouldn’t assume all readers are the same. Even if 80 percent of your readers are women, you risk alienating one-fifth of your audience if you gear a story toward women only. For our purposes in SIM, using gender-neutral terminology rarely affects the tone of a story.
INCORRECT: You and your husband
CORRECT: You and your spouse (or partner)

For more information, see Nonsexist Writing section in the SIM
Stylebook or Issue 37.

GRAMMAR: Hanging up
Which is it: “hanged” or “hung?” Unless Do It Yourself produces a “build
your own gallows in a weekend” project, we’re not likely to see hanged” in SIM. Reserve that word for executions; in all other cases, “hung” is the correct past tense of the verb hang.
INCORRECT: The children hanged the stockings with care.
CORRECT: The children hung the stockings with care.

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