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Gender refactor #405

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jessebeach
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It's been noted that a gender pronoun disparity on the order of 25:1 for male pronouns vs. female pronouns exists in the spec.

So I just swapped them all to female. We could change a couple back to male to maintain a token representation.

@@ -5551,7 +5551,7 @@ a.setAttribute('href', 'http://example.com/'); // change the content attribute d
use at the time (e.g. from the Julian calendar). The date of Nero's birth is the 15th of
December 37, in the Julian Calendar, which is the 13th of December 37 in the <span>proleptic
Gregorian calendar</span>.</li> <!-- This might not be true. I can't find a reference that gives
his birthday with an explicit statement about the calendar being used. However, it seems
her birthday with an explicit statement about the calendar being used. However, it seems
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This one is actually in reference to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nero

@Hixie
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Hixie commented Dec 15, 2015

I'm very much in favour of the sentiment here, but the solution isn't to change the examples, because as foolip points out, it's much more complicated than that. The solution is to add a whole bunch more, and make them all use the female pronoun (and indeed other pronouns like "ze" and "them"). You may notice that a lot of the more recently-added examples use female pronouns (much more so than past ones).

We need to add examples anyway, so this solves multiple problems at once.

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foolip commented Dec 15, 2015

I've pointed out a number of mistakes, but am happy about the idea itself. Perhaps you could make the PR smaller to first change the cases that are obviously not about a specific person?

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Hixie commented Dec 15, 2015

To make this simpler, I'll comment "lgtm" on each of the ones that can be changed trivially (i.e. without making the spec inconsistent with what it's referring to in the first place). That will hopefully at least make it easier to make progress.

<pre class="bad">&lt;p>&lt;i>He dreamt.
&lt;p>&lt;i>He dreamt that he ate breakfast.
<pre class="bad">&lt;p>&lt;i>She dreamt.
&lt;p>&lt;i>She dreamt that she ate breakfast.
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lgtm

@@ -68009,7 +68009,7 @@ contradict people?
<em>...</em>
&lt;section>
&lt;p id="fn1">&lt;a href="#r1">[1]&lt;/a> This is, naturally, a lie,
but paradoxically if it were true he could not say so without
but paradoxically if it were true she could not say so without
contradicting the interviewer and thus making it false.&lt;/p>
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"he" here is "Mr Norman St John Polevaulter", a character from Monty Python.

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Hixie commented Dec 15, 2015

To reiterate: I think checking in the changes marked "lgtm" would be a great improvement. Additionally, we really just need to add a whole slew of new examples that are all with female characters, especially female characters in typically male-dominated fields, especially computer science and engineering since the readers are most likely to be from those fields. We need more examples anyway, so this would be easy to do while fixing existing technical problems.

For the record, I have no problem with us going way off in the other direction and generally having many more female pronouns and characters in the spec than male ones. It's not like men are suffering from under-representation in general, and especially in technical documentation. If anyone complains about this, I'm more than happy to be the contact person responsible for dealing with their complaints.

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foolip commented Dec 15, 2015

@jessebeach Let us know when you've updated this and it's ready for second review. You can just keep pushing commits if you like, whoever merges will squash into a single commit. If you add yourself and Alice to the acknowledgements, that would be great too.

@jessebeach
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Awesome, big +1 to @Hixie and @foolip for the serious comments in spite of my cheekiness in the PR description =D

I'll go through and address the example inconsistencies and gendered-name/pronoun inconsistencies as well as comments.

@tabatkins
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I've got no problem with switching all the examples to female, but all the text referencing users/etc should preferably be gender-neutral, as I did in #407.

Edited to add: and I should really read the whole thread before commenting - Hixie already said as much.

@jessebeach
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I quite like the proposal by @tabatkins. The Washington Post recently announced an update to their style guide to allow singular they and it's been brewing as a proposal since at least 1879 (and I suspect for much longer).

Switching he's to she's is going to rankle folks and we'll never find the perfect balance. If English gives us a neutral pronoun, we should use it and avoid debate.

@jessebeach jessebeach closed this Dec 16, 2015
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foolip commented Dec 16, 2015

A singular "they" in the majority of cases seems fine, but a happy mix of pronouns in examples seems fine to me, and @Hixie already lgtm'd a number of changes. I will reopen this to merge those cases, so that @tabatkins can rebase and do some they-ing on top of that.

@foolip foolip reopened this Dec 16, 2015
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foolip commented Dec 16, 2015

Pushed as c3c407e and 24ce416

I thanked you as "Jesse Renée Beach" (your Git committer name) and also thanked "Alice Boxhall," please shout if I should change anything.

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foolip commented Dec 16, 2015

I rebased to see what changes would be left, and other than the fish example (#409) there were a few "himself" that were swapped with "herself". Please review #410 for an alternative fix.

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Awesome, thank you!

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4 participants