He or she?

‎”I’ve noticed that whenever I refer to a crow as a she in conversation, I am invariably asked, ‘How do you know it’s a female?’ However, if I refer to a bird as a he, no one ever asks how I know it’s a male– not ever.”

Crow Planet‘, by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

I read this a few months ago and was struck by this point. I try to use non-gendered pronouns when speaking of people, so why don’t I do it with birds which can be a lot harder to tell apart?

Categories: Uncategorized, Why? | Tags: | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “He or she?

  1. I suppose that, given the crow’s place in mythology — as Wotan’s companion, in particular — people have come to think of it as male. Also, there’s the harsh voice.

    I very much enjoy referring to spiders specifically as “he” or “she” because when someone asks me “how do you know…?” I get to point out the spider’s “boxing gloves”, or lack thereof, and explain their significance. Launching into an extemporaneous explanation of the pedipalps and their bizarre use as copulatory organs is a really easy way to establish myself as alpha geek.

    I got some good shots of a male fishing spider that my nephew spied during a hike. Scroll halfway down this page and you’ll see what I mean about the boxing gloves. http://cnylinktrail.blogspot.com/2009/05/look-at-big-spider.html

  2. I remember my boys at that age, especially Randall, the younger. Sweet memories, but how did they get to be so long ago?

    Eeep, big spider. I prefer snakes. (No legs good, 8 legs bad!)

    You can get the same looks by expounding on snake reproduction. Try saying ‘hemipenes’ in front of an almost-teen boy.

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