Why he..not she?

Walking around yesterday, I met a dog. It was a cute dog. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to pet it. I walked up to the owner, asked if I could pet their dog and of course without hesitation, they said yes. While petting this dog, I asked the owner “how old is he?” The owner answered saying SHE was 3. After a few more seconds of petting this adorable dog, I said my goodbyes and we parted ways. As I continued my walk, I thought about my recent encounter with the dog, replaying the special moment over again in my head.  I then found myself wondering.. why do we all assume dogs are males when first meeting them, later finding out many are indeed not males, but females. Now I’m not saying this issue is going to make tomorrow’s headlines in the small town of Norton, but I think it’s something we can all take the same to think about because at the end of the day… dogs have feelings too. Considering there is no obvious distinction when first encountering what gender it is, perhaps we could use broader term as simple as “it”. Here we are in the 21st century, fighting for equality, yet calling female dogs males. Where’s the equality in that?

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One thought on “Why he..not she?”

  1. I think an issue we have in gender neutrality and language is our pronouns in english make it very difficult. Singular feminine is “She” and singular masculine is “he” then singular neutral is “it”. However, using “it” to refer to an animal, especially an animal like a dog that is treated almost as a human, seems impersonal and wrong. An alternative that is often used is “they”. Asking the owner “How old are they?” will still get the point across, but is grammatically incorrect since there is only one dog in question. The assumption that they are male over female is another example of how a bias toward males is always present in our society. Language needs to catch up to the current times and develop ways to refer to and address dogs that have unknown genders so that they can no longer be subjected to the harsh assumption that they are are males.

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