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Pre-2008 Posts

Google and the He/She Ratio

Hoyden About Town has a really interesting post up about the He/She ratio on Google:

A site’s he/ she ratio is measured by counting the number of pages on the domain containing the word “he”, then searching for the number containing “she”, and then looking at the two numbers in comparison….

The most striking overall result, of course, is the massive He-skewing on pretty much every site that doesn’t specifically have feminism, women’s bodies or traditionally women’s work as its focus. (And I’m rather amazed that some of the sites that _do_ have women’s bodies as their focus still have a He-predominance. What’s up with that?)

Women’s Space’s ratio is listed there as are the ratios of many of your favorites (and some of your least-favorites!). It’s interesting.

One reason feminist sites might have many references to men on their pages is, we are talking about the behaviors and acts of men.  But that doesn’t seem to be why some of the other sites she lists, including some “progressive” sites and some of the feminist sites, are all about the “he’s” in the world.




18 thoughts on “Google and the He/She Ratio

  1. thanks so much for linking to Hoyden about Town blog. on the he/she list, discovered another british blog, the fword, with useful post about may Zinefest happening there this month.

    donna druchanas, known to many in the yarn world, and i are working on “safe sex and dangerous knitting,” zine about knitting condom amulets.

    Posted by naomi dagen bloom | May 5, 2007, 5:14 pm
  2. From the link to the Hoyden post above:

    Quote: “And then there’s the fact that no-one seems to have noticed, let alone question, the fact that “He” always comes first in the construction “He/She”.”

    Yep, placing males before females, a practice taught to us from the time we begin to form words.

    I am always conscious of this subliminal message in language of placing males above and in front of females, ‘men and women, ‘boys and girls’, ‘his and hers’ and the list goes on. I am also surprised at how many feminists haven’t made this subtle connection. I read many feminists who don’t even notice how they, when they write or speak, place males before females. That is how insidious this tactic is.

    We learn this formation of language from the patriarchy, to place boys before girls, in the books we learn to read from, in the scenarios of history, or entertainment, everywhere, we hear and accept the ‘common’ language of ‘his and hers’, ‘men and women’, ‘he/she’, ‘Mr. and Mrs.(his name)’, the use of the male word ‘guys’ to refer to a group that has female participants, etc..

    I always place women/females first in my language, reversing what has become this subtle reinforcement of male domination. What males have accomplished with language, some of it obvious, the other not so obvious, all accumulates to paint the big picture of females being less than males. I figure that the fact that I notice what they are doing and that I personally make a change to reverse their tactic, even though it seems small in comparison to all of the other ways that males harm women and reinforce their domination and oppression of women, I figure that I make a difference. Even though paying attention to the order of words may seem petty, I believe it is important.

    Posted by uppitybiscuit | May 5, 2007, 5:37 pm
  3. How do you know feminists haven’t made the connection? I say he/she and men/women sometimes and am perfectly aware of the connection. I could put the female first *all* of the time, except that “our” language is constructed in such a way that it sometimes (not always) sounds awkward that way.

    We are also made to seem “second” by the very *words* “women” and “female”. “Woman” sounds like a type of man, a “wo-man” and “female” sounds like a type of male, a “fe-male”. Did you ever notice that the word “male” starts with the same letter of the alphabet as “mother”, but “female” starts with the same letter as “father”? I don’t think that is coincidental, as patriarchy is *based* on religious/ideological reversals, as in Adam gives birth to Eve, not vice versa, so Adam is essentially the “mother” of Eve. “Mother” means creator, but patriarchy assigns creation to a male God, not a female. Anyway, going by the meanings of the English language and biological/ontological reality, our sex should actually be the male and theirs the female, though that would take some getting used to on my part! “Female” would also be more accurate for them because their sex is actually a biological derivative of ours, Y chromosome and all.

    As to the words “womon”, “womyn”, “wimmin”, these are better than nothing, I guess, but the distinction from “woman” and “women” exists only in writing and is nonexistent in speaking. It would be great to have a word that has no linguistic relation to the word “man” in either writing or speech.

    Posted by Branjor | May 5, 2007, 7:00 pm
  4. I have often thought about my usage of he/she and with many of my topics I usually just want to write he but go ahead and include the she to convey the all encompassing, —–the pseudo-illusion of fairness, objectivity. The times I place he first is usually when I am badmouthing something about people, or I should say criticizing, whether it is constructive or not depends on the reader and his/her projection. See I just did it because I am really talking about him doing it and not really her. But I do it because I don’t want to blame women first over men. Women get enough blame. I want men to be the first in my scorn and then the women, because I am sad to say there are women who do belong, I call them patriachal submissives.

    However, in cases that are more general and without criticism I shall examine if putting the she/her first will be more feminist of me.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | May 5, 2007, 7:25 pm
  5. I think in the progressive movement (outside the feminism movement) many times you have more guys to refer to.

    There are women in the movement, but because of the way (American) society is set up, you seem to have more men than women.

    If you are a woman, it’s alot harder to be a radical.

    If you have children you are expected to make your children your priority and many women feel pressured by that.

    Also financial security being progressive if you are not connected can leave you eating dog food if you don’t have a trust fund or connections.

    It seems like by the time you could really have some progressive really making strides if you look at it like a career (late 30s early 40s) most of the women of the movement seem to have to leave.

    If you are not in academia and you are not exclusively in the feminist movement, where do you go?

    The guys get the TV shows, the radio shows, the book deals. Where are the women John Stewarts?

    Other than Amy Goodman…she’s the only true high profile progressive woman I know that is allowed to talk about issues outside of feminism or p.o.c. I guess Arianna Huffington, I know she’s changed now, but you know…I mean columnists, pretty much all guys…

    For women who are progressive unless they get into academia which outside of feminism (not that there is alot of slots there either) there are limited slots for everyone, even more so for women where do you go?

    Women have to either identify as only being concerned with the feminist movement or be only concerened in the person of color movement, outside of those two subject areas the men in the movement feel as if what you have to say is irrelevant.

    So most women I would think just get tired and are low profile progressive or just become moderate.

    I don’t know…I’m just guessing, I haven’t studied the why I’m just saying what the causes of the “co-ed” progressive sites being so men centric.


    Posted by Lo | May 5, 2007, 7:29 pm
  6. I’m fascinated! And I thought I had a male-oriented blog, and I do not artificially say “she” or “s/he” for the supposedly neutral-collective “he” because I find it contrived … and yet I am running 39/61, 61% “she”, I am not as retrograde as I thought.

    Posted by profacero | May 5, 2007, 8:06 pm
  7. Have you seen the, the gender genie? Supposedly “I” makes one more female than male. I think it is because there is little self reflecting in male writing and alot of talking about other people. It is a way of self-protecting. I know I do it. I used twice just now. I do it because males (from RL) have stalked my journal before. Therefore a woman cannot be a “real” woman, or I should say herself in blog land, because when she uses the “I” it opens her up to attack.

    *there are many loose generalizations in the above statement. Sue me.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | May 5, 2007, 8:18 pm
  8. We put “he” in front of “she” because of Loweth and Murray. They wrote *the prescriptivist grammar book* in 1799, basing it on latin grammar which explains the made up, inane rules like “no split infinitives” and “don’t end a sentence with a preposition”. In it they decided that “the male should always supersede the female.” They are also responsible for the fact that anything with an unknown gender is referred to as “he” and they decided to get rid of the singular, gender neutral meaning of the pronoun “they” turning it into a plural. This could be a big reason why these sites are biased- and if I remember my fact sheets, “he” is the most used word in the english language (if it isn’t “a” or “the”- either way “she” doesn’t come into the list until a way later).

    This could go a way to explaining some of the bias by itself, but we all know you can go pages on the news without any women shown- unless they’ve been raped or are berated for something.

    Posted by tcupnewt | May 5, 2007, 10:03 pm
  9. Me:

    How do you know feminists haven’t made the connection? I say he/she and men/women sometimes and am perfectly aware of the connection.

    Ah, that was written in a context, and not intended to convey “I’m the first person ever in the world through all time to notice this particular thing.” In the original context, it meant “the webpage seems blissfully unaware of this, and in the conversations I’ve had about it so far outside of explicitly feminist circles, no-one has noticed it.”

    Even people who are aware of the supposedly-neutral-he problem don’t tend to notice the pronoun order problem.

    Posted by lauredhel | May 5, 2007, 11:56 pm
  10. Something’s become cut out of my post above. It was supposed to quote me:
    “And then there’s the fact that no-one seems to have noticed, let alone question, the fact that “He” always comes first in the construction “He/She”

    then Brandor
    “How do you know feminists haven’t made the connection?”


    Posted by lauredhel | May 5, 2007, 11:58 pm
  11. This is a really interesting one for me to reflect on, since I have been struggling this week with a random and vicious male reader who decided I can’t call myself a feminist if I write negative things about males on my blog.

    Posted by whatladder | May 6, 2007, 12:29 am
  12. One of the things that my Spirit Guides have always been very insistent about with me through the years is that when a(n English-speaking) Gaian-human is using a pronoun in talking about Sentient Spirit, that Gaian-human needs to say ‘She’ if the wish is to not offend Prime Creative Source.

    When I asked why, I was told the following, and it is a direct quote: ‘In the language you speak, the pronoun *she* also contains within it the word *he*, but the reverse is not true. When a truly Sentient Being refers to Source, she therefore says *She*, as it is the most inclusive word. Since Prime Creative Source is the Fountain of All That Is, the only language that is fit to describe The One is that which includes rather than excludes. Now that you know what is expected of a Sentient One, you may not use the word *he* for this purpose, because The One now knows that you know better…’

    I filed the information away and didn’t think about it much (although I did follow the advice I was given in my own personal life and Magickal Workings), but in 2001, I chanced to read a book by a Woman named Lisette Larkins, who wrote about her contact experiences with Skypeople (*E.T.* and *alien* are another couple of examples of excluding language which I also do not like, and so avoid). In her book, she wrote about being confused by the Skypeople because when they talked to her about God/Sacred Sentience, they always used the word *She*. When she asked them why, their answer was almost verbatim what I had been told by my Guides in my early 20’s, a good 28 – 30 years prior to her experiences. It prompted me to write to her, and I (only half) jokingly told her, ‘Lisette, we’ve been talking to the same people, I think…’

    Language DOES matter, because we use it to shape and map consensus reality, and to communicate in that consensus-frame with others. If we want to change things, language is a good place to start. I remember when people used to laugh at the terms ‘congressperson’, ‘councilperson’ and ‘Ms.’, but now everybody uses them and they don’t think twice about it.

    Personally, I do not like being called a ‘wo-man’ (a ‘not-man’). I much prefer the Old European terms ‘Mani’ (from the word ‘man/men’ meaning ‘Moon’– from which, through Latin, we derive the word ‘menstruation’) and ‘Vir’ (meaning ‘an erect penis’– from which we get our word ‘virile’, meaning sexually-manly). Rather than always defining one sex as ‘not the other’ (and therefore excluding it), these words just describe physical Manian and Virian structure. Manii and Viri are thus described as sexual complements of each other, but are also equally designated by unique titles which do not require the complementary sex to define them: A Mani is not a ‘wo-Vir’, nor is a Vir a ‘wo-Man-i’.

    If we give the sexes their sovereignty linguistically and insist on it in our speech, I think personal physical sovereignty will follow it. By entirely bypassing the whole loaded Wo/man thing, a clear message is sent that the entire game that has been going on is being completely rejected.

    Taking a Magickal perspective, one could simply say that a Mani and a Vir each have their own Mysteries of Being. And being sovereign and a wholeness unto themselves, I think it would be far easier for two Manii or two Viri to partner one another: the current Wo/man language-game does not allow this because the sexes are shackled and strangled in a one-up, one-down paradigm driven by a ‘sex *a* designates sex *b*’ nomenclature.

    An additional benefit is that because *Mani* and *Vir* are outside the current vocabulary rules and ‘consensus rhythm’ of 21st Century English, it matters not at all whether one says ‘Mani and Viri’ or ‘Viri and Mani’: there is no grammatical precedent for either word that would indicate that Vir/Viri should follow Mani/Manii or vice-versa.

    So, I claim the right to name myself– I am a Moon, a Mani, full in herself and complete in herself, not a ‘non-man’. I don’t even know what the heck a ‘wo-man’ is, so imprecise is the term.

    Posted by akkarri | May 6, 2007, 2:02 am
  13. Lauredhel, I was replying to chasingmoksha.

    Posted by Branjor | May 6, 2007, 2:35 am
  14. I mean Uppity Biscuit – I was replying to Uppity Biscuit!

    Gah, this thread is getting confusing.

    Posted by Branjor | May 6, 2007, 2:37 am
  15. Well, we all know ‘he’ is the default for ‘human’ 🙂

    I’ve come across several people who call all individuals ‘he’ regardless of whether they’re male or female. The man who owned the grazing block where I reared my calves did that – I was only rearing heifers, as males of course have no milk-cow potential. But even though he knew the heifers almost as well as I did, he always referred to individuals as ‘he’ or ‘him’.
    I did as well when I was around him. It was just less confusing to keep things consistent.

    I’d be curious to know what proportion of the population does this. Probably not enough to skew the results by much.

    Posted by Sophie | May 6, 2007, 3:07 am
  16. Great site. Enjoyed the post too. I love reading the words.words of other smart, strong women.

    And by the way, in my world iit’s she said/he said and she’s almost always right.


    Posted by lauriekendrick | May 6, 2007, 1:14 pm
  17. Wow, that was interesting. No surprise Fox News has 73% he. Though my son just commented, “Most criminals are men, so a news site would have more hes.” He’s a good feminist boy. 🙂

    I put my own blog’s url in there, because you said it’s mostly feminist-specific blogs that have better she rates. I am a woman and a feminist, but my blog is about books. I was really pleased to get this response: Usage of “he” vs “she” on (45% he/ 55% she) Most of the hes or shes I’d be writing about are writers, and I guess I read slightly more women than men.

    My friend’s feminism blog, though, did better:

    Usage of “he” vs “she” on (37% he/ 63% she)

    Posted by Dewey | May 8, 2007, 10:19 pm
  18. I may well be far too late for this thread now, but I’m really interested by what has been said:

    Quoting Branjor:

    ‘We are also made to seem “second” by the very *words* “women” and “female”. “Woman” sounds like a type of man, a “wo-man” and “female” sounds like a type of male, a “fe-male”.’

    You see, I like to turn it around – ‘men’ are *part* of ‘women’, ‘males’ are *part* of ‘females’. I see ‘man’ as being a shortened form of ‘woman’.

    Am I alone in thinking this way?

    Posted by BrevisMus | May 15, 2007, 12:54 pm

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