Helen Stransky

Possible Oversight in Technical Communications Textbook?

Discussion created by Helen Stransky on Jun 12, 2017
Latest reply on Jul 20, 2017 by Leah Rang

   I am currently a sophomore at UTSA studying to get an undergraduate degree in English. I was reading our textbook, Technical Communication, 11th ed. and noticed a possible oversight on page 240 in a section called "Nonsexist Language".

The passage reads, "You can use your word processor to search for he , man , and men , the words and parts of words most often associated with sexist writing. Some grammar-checkers identify common sexist terms and suggest alternatives. But use what you know about the world. You don’t want to produce a sentence like this one from a benefits manual: 'Every employee is responsible for the cost of his or her gynecological examination.'" 

   The last sentence of the passage seems out of place for a few reasons. First, is that it implies that the referenced material from the benefits manual, "Every employee is responsible for the cost of his or her gynecological examination" is wrong in some way. However, in a section about nonsexist language, that sentiment would merely be considered as trans inclusive--not wrong. The reason for this is because transgender men (men born in a female body) can also have vaginas, thereby also being candidates for gynecological examinations. If one subscribes to that ideology, then it would grant the material from the referenced benefits manual validity, while simultaneously making the information from the textbook appear to be sexist and/or ignorant of transgender issues. In short, this passage from Technical Communication can be seen as both hypocritical and sexist. 

   This is my first time posting anything on this website, so I apologize if this is out of place. If someone can suggest a better, or more appropriate place to post this, please let me know. I just thought I'd bring attention to that passage of the textbook because it seems like it could be a potential oversight.