71

I have just read a tiny fraction of a huge amount of content generated by the apparent abusive dismissal of an important moderator from the Stack Exchange network.

An answer that tries to explain one of the main reasons behind all this includes this:

Cultural Background: In the United States there has been a push to use gender-neutral language and gender pronouns when given.

This topic has created quite a storm across the network and a lot of moderators resigned or took similar actions. I am wondering if this "push" is also important in the US politics.

Question: In the United States, has there been a push to use gender-neutral language and gender pronouns when a person expresses a preference for a particular third-person pronoun to use to refer to her/him/them?

  • 17
    What is “when given” supposed to mean here? – chirlu Oct 5 at 20:42
  • 5
    @chirlu Following the link in the second paragraph, it's "when given" as in "when a person expresses a preference for a particular third person pronoun to use to refer to her/him/them". I agree that in this case adding this to the question might simplify the reading of it. – origimbo Oct 5 at 21:02
  • 1
    A push by who and at what level? Are we talking strictly political or do major speech-controlling companies like Facebook count? – IllusiveBrian Oct 5 at 22:37
  • 1
    @IllusiveBrian - I am interested in mostly the political level since this the topic of this site. Although how the political level is connected to what big companies like Facebook or SO do is an interesting topic. – Alexei Oct 6 at 5:28
  • 12
    Comments deleted. We do not need to discuss Stack Exchange policy on yet another place. Please do that on the general Stack Exchange meta. – Philipp Oct 6 at 22:25
54

Yes, but as a small part of the larger US culture wars

The push to use gender neutral pronouns, or to insist that people must use the pronouns that they are explicitly told to use or face ostracism and/or criminal penalty, is an extremely recent phenomenon. The recentness of this is primarily a result of the broader LGBT movement successfully making gay marriage legal. Any given movement with an interest in shaping public policy usually starts by trying to pass the most broadly popular policy changes first and work their way down the list as they accomplish things, simply because the more popular things are easier to do. Legalizing gay marriage was the higest policy priority of the LGBT movement in the United States between 2003 and 2015, and with that being legal, there is now greater focus on the issues of transgender people among activists and people who care about these issues.

It is hard to quantify exactly how "important" this particular push is, especially because there are multiple ways to say if and how something is "important." But it is certainly gaining in importance; 5+ years ago there was very little attention paid to transgender issues outside of the people who care the most about it.

One thing that is certain though, is that support for these issues is not uniform across the entire United States. Support for these issues tends to be highest among affluent, educated white suburban and urbanites. Thus, it is part of the larger "culture war" that goes on in America between those people and their opposites on the other side of the aisle.

That "culture war" is, unfortunately, rather important, as it explains a lot of recent dysfunction in US politics. One of the most important one being the insistence that everyone must be in one political tribe or another, as well as insistence on agreeing with every aspect of that tribe's agenda.

EDIT: The other answers have suggested that there is no "push" here, that there is nothing new about gender-neutral language, and that this is all really a question of evolving standards of common courtesy. I think that misses what is novel about current political efforts, which is that there is a new belief (not necessarily shared by everyone it is claimed to help) that it is desirable or necessary to punish people who get pronouns wrong or otherwise misgender someone in order to provide safety. "Punish" meaning, to be fired from a job, get fined, be jailed, or in the case that prompted the question, lose Stack Exchange moderator status.

87

Pronouns are a thing, but they aren’t the thing for the most part. They’re about simple interpersonal communication and respect (it’s no big deal to make a mistake, it’s pretty insulting to adamantly insist on using the wrong ones), but they tend not to be a major factor in, say, the political agendas of most feminist and/or LGBTQ communities, that I have seen.

There are actually two separate issues: the gendering/gender neutrality of hypothetical persons (that is, using a gendered or gender-neutral pronoun to refer to “a person” who may be any gender), and the correct or incorrect gendering of specific individuals.

The hypothetical person situation is an older concern of feminism; the objection is basically to the default use of “he” when referring to “a person” who is not necessarily male. The problem here was that—because for so long English-speaking countries had rather strict and stark gender roles that had most work done by men—many, many things were written using “man” or “he” when they weren’t necessarily (after mostly-20th-century equality movements) describing solely men. This happened with job titles (“police officer,” “firefighter,” “Congressperson”), and it happened with pronouns (“he or she” or the use of “they” in the singular). Styles guides for journalists and academics began to recommend these measures, and they became part of the broader culture; they were taught as the correct way to write in formal settings, they were used in media and news reports, and so on. There was some pushing and some pushing back on this, but much of that is over and done with. Not to say that everyone’s happy with the situation now and no one argues about it, but it doesn’t tend to come up in current events or debates very much.

The more recent debate is about the gendering or misgendering of specific individuals. The debate is basically that some individuals have certain pronouns they prefer to have used with respect to themselves. This can be anything from a transgender person wanting to use the pronouns of their gender identity, to a cisgender person who defies gender stereotypes emphasizing that despite that defiance they still consider themselves to be their gender, to the various forms of Q under LGBTQ that may prefer not to use he or she at all. The other side of the debate basically believes that they ought to have the right to ignore those preferences and apply the labels that they personally feel ought to apply to another person, regardless of that person’s wishes. As transgender issues have risen in prominence recently, pronouns, particularly with respect to transgender folks, have come up in some debates as well.

For example, Danica Roem is a member of the Virginia state House of Representatives, and was the first transgender person to be elected to any state legislature. She tried, as much as possible, to run her campaign without even mentioning that fact—her focus was on public transportation, for the most part, as I recall (I lived in Virginia at the time, but not in the district she was campaigning for). Her opponent, on the other hand, made a point of nastily misgendering her (using “he”), trying to make the campaign about her being transgender. This backfired for him: much of the electorate considered his statements unseemly, and she got a lot of respect for handling the issue well and then returning to her core campaign concerns, about the district rather than about herself.

Another anecdote, also from Virginia: when I lived there, for a time I worked for a security contractor that was about 85% Veteran, mostly Army. One of the staff there—not, herself, a Veteran—came out as transgender and began transitioning, and asked for people to use her new name and pronouns. I worked with a lot of no-nonsense, tough, and conservative guys there—but nobody refused, nobody made an issue out of it. The most I heard was “seems weird to me, but whatever floats her boat, I guess.” This was northwestern Virginia, near DC, so a very liberal area in general; people might have felt more comfortable with objecting if they were surrounded by like-minded people. But the office itself was not particularly liberal, and there were plenty of people who didn’t care overmuch for the opinions of others (and in at least a couple of cases, I mean that quite critically—but even those still respected our co-worker’s transition enough to use the correct name and pronouns).

Some communities are more serious about pronouns than others. Tumblr, for example, as an online community, has a lot of users who include their preferred pronouns as part of their introductory blurb at the top of their blogs, and a lot of users who will make a point of asking about pronouns when interacting through that medium with someone who doesn’t include them there. That is part of that community, and as an online community, you don’t have to be transgender for your pronouns to be unclear—if you don’t happen to blog about things that make your gender explicit, there would be no way of knowing. As a place where a lot of people who are sensitive about gendering (either because they are transgender, or also because they are not transgender but also defy gender roles), a heightened emphasis on pronouns is found there, and people are a bit more careful—and, as that becomes normalized within that community, a certain amount of care becomes expected, as well.

But that’s a particular community with a particular niche that can be particularly devoted to this subject. The wider American public is less aware, less careful, and while I have no doubt that many Tumblr users would prefer that the rest of the world be more careful, as Tumblr is, the fact is that as of yet, it isn’t. The majority of people concerned with gendering care a whole lot more for people making an honest, good-faith effort to be welcoming and respectful, than they care about “getting it right” per se.

Note that I come to this discussion as a cisgender male who has never experienced gender dysphoria in his life, and who doesn’t have a Tumblr blog. If someone were to misgender me—even if they were to do it blatantly and with intent to insult—I wouldn’t really care, beyond the general annoyance of someone getting in my face and trying to get a rise out of me, and that’s because ultimately, these are not concerns near or dear to my heart. I have quite a fair number of transgender friends, for whom it is of much greater importance, but that isn’t the same thing. I have asked several of them to read over this answer, and they’ve supported it. As the cases of Danica Roem and my former co-worker show, there isn’t really a lot of people getting all that worked up about this in daily life. Which is part of the reason that the handling of the issue of pronouns on Stack Exchange has caused such controversy: quite a number of LGBTQ users have felt that SE, while supposedly protecting them, have made a vastly larger issue out of things than was necessary (it is, at this point, unclear if any issue needed to be made out of Monica’s particular case, but a whole lot of information is still being kept private at this point), and that in overreacting SE has made the LGBTQ community look bad and harmed their reputation and their hopes for improved respect and acceptance.

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – yannis Oct 7 at 17:40
  • 5
    I think this is all good information but could benefit a little from an explicit summary addressing the question: basically that yes, there's a push, but it is almost exclusively a bottom-up push from members of sexual/gender minorities and those sympathetic to their causes – llama Oct 7 at 18:46
  • 12
    While a good answer, this overlooks the main historical reason for words like "chairman" not being "chairperson" (it's not gender roles): Originally, English had 3 singular nouns: "man" being the gender neutral term meaning "person" or "someone", with "wereman" being the masculine form (see also the related words "werewolf" and "weregild"), and "wifman" being the feminine form (the "were-" prefix meaning "male human", and the "wif-" prefix meaning "female human"). Eventually, "wifman" became "woman", and "wereman" ("male human person") was discarded in favour of just using "man" ("person"). – Chronocidal Oct 8 at 10:05
  • 2
    As such, it is not that the roles themselves were deemed as "default male", but rather that the terminology for referring to males specifically is no longer in use. This is, of course, still a matter of default-gender assumption, but at a different step in the process (assuming "people" in general to be generically male, rather than assuming the job to be generically male) - it doesn't change the validity of the overall answer. – Chronocidal Oct 8 at 10:21
  • 4
    @Chronocidal I am quite sure that wereman had fallen out of use vastly prior to chairman being coined. – KRyan Oct 8 at 12:13
27

Those are two separate issues, so my answer will try to address them in two parts.

Gender neutral language

Gender neutral language is less of an issue in English, as it's not a very gendered language in the first place.

It is an issue in a couple of cases though. For example:

  • Gendered nouns: Most nouns aren't gendered ("doctor", "students", ...), but there are exceptions. E.g. "chairman" (alternative: "chairperson") or "fireman" (alternative: "firefighter").
  • generic use of "he". Alternatives ("he or she", singular "they", generic use of "she").

The idea to use gender neutral languages is not new (it gained prominence in the 60s and 70s) and it is not limited to the United States. The UN for example recommends it internally, it's used in many official German documents, etc.

The "push" for it originally came from feminist movements. The idea is that biased language (e.g. defaulting to male) can impact actions and enshrine existing inequality:

During the 1970s, feminists Casey Miller and Kate Swift created a manual, The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing, on gender neutral language that was set to reform the existing sexist language that was said to exclude and dehumanize women.[17] In the 1980s, many feminist efforts were made to reform the androcentric language.[18] It has become common in some academic and governmental settings to rely on gender-neutral language to convey inclusion of all sexes or genders (gender-inclusive language).

Gender pronouns

Gender pronouns ("he" or "she") have long been used in English, so there is no new "push" to use them now.

It has also always been considered improper to use pronouns which do not align with a persons gender identity (e.g. calling a woman "he" or "it"). The existence of binary trans people doesn't change basic etiquette, and purposefully misgendering is clearly impolite and bigoted.

Gender-neutral pronouns (e.g. singular "they", "zir", or "hir" instead of "he" or "she") for non-binary people specifically are relatively new (while singular "they" in general is not), and are slowly gaining traction in society:

The practice of using pronouns in a non-binary way has not featured much in academic writing - the first paper on it was published in 2017, but has become more accepted online and on social media, with people now listing them in their Twitter bios.

In July, three Presidential candidates were praised for adding their pro-nouns to their accounts.

34% of Republicans and 66% of Democrats say that they are somewhat or very comfortable using gender-neutral pronouns.

As the ACLU notes, acceptance of gender neutral pronouns can be seen as a continuation of the fight for women's rights and LGBT acceptance:

Language has always been a part of both the LGBTQ and women’s rights movements. Some examples of the significance of language within these movements, include: the fight to use Ms. instead of Mrs. or Miss and the challenge to change the default use of the pronoun “he” to “she.” Language plays a central role in social movements and can track cultural shifts. The ongoing fight to use pronouns that correspond to a person’s gender identity and the inclusion of gender-neutral pronouns is a continuation of these struggles and builds on their legacies.

  • 15
    It might be worth it to explicitly point out that, humans being humans, not everyone in the feminist and LGBT communities agree on the direction or goals of these movements, particularly with reference to each other. – origimbo Oct 6 at 16:29
  • 6
    The gender-neutral alternative I've seen for "chairman" is simply "chair". – Mark Oct 6 at 20:21
  • 4
    @Mark or chairperson if all chairs are human. ;) – JJ for Transparency and Monica Oct 6 at 21:57
  • 3
    The idea of singular they dates to the 14th century. it is not new by far more than this answer lets on. – Mindwin Oct 7 at 12:34
  • 5
    @Mindwin The answer specifically notes that singular they is not new in general. What's new is its usage as a pronoun for nonbinary individuals, rather than unspecified individuals or individuals of unknown gender. – eyeballfrog Oct 7 at 15:48
11

In addition to what was already said, there were also some locality based anti-discriminatory laws being passed to the effect, which is something that would not happen without some political traction.

The NYC Commission on Human Rights Legal Enforcement Guidance on Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Expression: Local Law No. 3 (2002); N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-102, last updated on Feburary 19th, 2019 states:

1. Failing To Use the Name or Pronouns with Which a Person Self-Identifies

The NYCHRL requires employers and covered entities to use the name, pronouns, and title (e.g.,Ms./Mrs./Mx.)15 with which a person self-identifies, regardless of the person’s sex assigned at birth, anatomy, gender, medical history, appearance, or the sex indicated on the person’s identification.

Most people and many transgender people use female or male pronouns and titles. Some transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people use pronouns other than he/him/his or she/her/hers, such as they/them/theirs or ze/hir.16 They/them/theirs can be used to identify or refer to a single person (e.g., “Joan is going to the store, and they want to know when to leave”). Many transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people use a different name than the one they were assigned at birth.

All people, including employees, tenants, customers, and participants in programs, have the right to use and have others use their name and pronouns regardless of whether they have identification in that name or have obtained a court-ordered name change, except in very limited circumstances where certain federal, state, or local laws require otherwise (e.g., for purposes of employment eligibility verification with the federal government). Asking someone in good-faith for their name and gender pronouns is not a violation of the NYCHRL.

Covered entities may avoid violations of the NYCHRL by creating a policy of asking everyone what their gender pronouns are so that no person is singled out for such questions and by updating their systems, intake forms, or other questionaires to allow all people to self-identify their name and gender. Covered entities should not limit the options for identification to male and female only.

Examples of Violations
a. Intentional or repeated refusal to use a person’s name, pronouns, or title. For example, repeatedly calling a transgender woman “him” or “Mr.” after she has made clear that she uses she/her and Ms.

b. Refusal to use a person’s name, pronouns, or title because they do not conform to gender stereotypes. For example, insisting on calling a non-binary person “Mr.” after they have requested to be called “Mx.”

c. Conditioning a person’s use of their name on obtaining a court-ordered name change or providing identification in that name. For example, a covered entity may not refuse to call a transgender man who introduces himself as Manuel by that name because his identification lists his name as Maribel.17

d. Requiring a person to provide information about their medical history or proof of having undergone particular medical procedures in order to use their preferred name, pronouns, or title.

The downloadable P.D.F. version of the guidance was last updated on which was last updated on Janurary 15th 2019.

The N.Y.C. Commission on Human Rights also distributed this Gender Identification Expression card which lists a few rights, including the right to "be addressed with their preferred pronouns and name without being required to show 'proof' of gender".

  • This is a very good example. Thanks. – Alexei Oct 7 at 6:52
  • 1
    As far as I understand from an answer below, this code applies to municipal employees? If that is the case, it should be mentioned in your answer as well, because right now it gives impression that it is some sort of local law that applies to everybody in NY. – Gnudiff Oct 8 at 6:33
  • @Gnudiff If somebody can cite the relevant provisions of New York City law which restrict it to municipal employees then I would be receptive to a rectifying edit, but my own cursory glance at The New York City Human Rights Law Administrative Code of the City of New York Title 8 (P.D.F.) suggests it is broad enough to apply to at least some private individuals. – Tonepoet Oct 8 at 14:39
3

One of the contentions in the preferred pronouns debate comes from the United States' very liberal position on the protection of freedom of speech for an individual, which limits the ability of any government body in the United States to create a law forcing gender neutrality or any punishment for any rude turn of phrase. In fact, among legal scholars, there is some debate as to whether or not "fighting word doctrine" is still a legal reality in the United States (as the Supreme Court has yet to uphold a single first amendment case on the argument that the speech at issue is fighting words beyond the initial ruling that such an exception exists, but there are plenty of case laws that say for certain, what is not an example of fight words, and thus free speech). It's also worth pointing out that because the Supreme Court has upheld context is important and that protected speech must have some political, scientific, or artistic merit (and with a bar on artistic merit set so low, that even pornography counts as artistic enough to pass this requirement (though child pornography is one of the few exceptions and is blanket banned, no matter the context).). One particular case even held that banning of hate symbols and language is a violation of first amendment protections (the case in question overturned the conviction of a man who put a burning cross in an African American neighbor's yard. SCOTUS determined that the ban was unnecessary as there were a plethora of crimes that could have achieved a criminal charge, such as arson and intimidation or harassment charges, all of which categorize a series of behaviors that are illegal but do prohibit a statement that contains a political message.).

So politically, the push for a law is difficult. The NYC law @TOnepoet is restricted to employees of public accommodations and government employees of the City while on duty or acting as a representative of the city. Government can restrict the speech of government employees during the course of duty. One up in the air problem to arise is in artist commissions, where an artist refuses to make a commissioned work of art for someone with content that the artist does not agree with, though this is still not a resolved question (The cake baker in the most recent case before SCOTUS had his case overturned as the court had demonstrated an in appropriate bias towards him when deciding his case and the court felt that the damage was so thorough in this specific case that retrial was not feasible. The decision does not have legal weight for any other similar cases of refusal of commissioned art services.).

Those in opposition to the movement for a law will point out that it is a legal opposition only and that, when asked by an individual, they will try to respect the request. They're only request is to not be arrested for a mistake. Other opposition will respect the request if respect is earned or required in the situation. Controversial Conservative Comedian (say that five times fast... and yes, you might disagree with my use of any of those adjectives) Steven Crowder usually does not respect preferred pronouns when a person calls for a legal enforcement, to emphasize the reason why it's not feasible. However, he has had trans-individuals on his show to interview as invited guests and his (in)famous "Change my Mind" Segments when it is requested of him (in the latter case, Crowder specifically does not allow guests who will agree with him, so these guests who he uses preferred pronouns with often oppose his position on the subject.).

Most Americans do try to be mindful of the subject, but there are some quirks. As another answer proposed, English use of a neutral "He" for a generic profession holder is often used (such as a generic singular doctor may be referred to as "he" if the gender is unknown or moot, and will be corrected once the detail of specific gender is revealed). Uniquely, when refering to a generic President of the United States (even a hypothetical future one) the term "He" is almost always used unless it's specifically stated that it is a hypothetical female president. Part of this is that, at time of writing, there has never been a female President of the United States, even though the office never had a legal restriction on gender (the President did not need to meet any other historical requirement to voting (including the most restrictive requirement, owning land) so long as the office seeker met the rest of the criteria. Initially one could be a non-land owning citizen and still be president, though this did not happen. Similarly at no point was there a codified law barring women from elected office, but in practice it was not done. In fact, the language of the Constitution, except for the amended portions about voters needing to be land owning males, the use of the word "man" is in context the same as using "person" in the constitution and all legal protections afforded to citizens were not based on the gendered use of man. Given that the Constitution is seen by Americans as almost a sacred text and the ability to change it is difficult, most Americans are not particularly interested in amending instances of man used in similar contextual meaning to person, especially when the 19th amendment excised the sex based restriction on voting, the only time where one's gender was referenced in the document. That said, there is an amendment push to include this explicitly rather than rely on the jurisprudence read of the document to ensure this remains.

Gender nuatrality has largely been enforced in technical writing (such as writing user manuals and opperating orders or instructions) but because of the nature of this writing, most instructions are imperative statements, which use an implied "You" as the subject (i.e. "Go to the mall." is has an unstated second person subject so it reads "[You] Go to the mall." If the predicate noun is a singular person, pronouns are usually written as "he/she" rather then "they".

It's also important to stress that English is a gendered language but follows a very strict and very logical assignment, where only things which are capable of having gender get gendered terms while things incapable of gender do not, as well as generic members of non-human animals. In fiction, things with human personalities but no biological sex have gender that corresponds to their personality. Robots are "It" pronouns, but Lt. Commander Data is a "he" and Star Trek only refers to Data as an "it" to clue in audiences that the speaker is not a good person. This can cause some confusion when the personalities are difficult to nail down to gender (especially common in animation where a talking object has no gender role traits, given that many people lending the voice to young male characters are women). One such example is a debate among fans of "The Brave Little Toaster", a cartoon film about appliances that came to life when people weren't looking. The characters of Kirby (a vacuum), Lampy (a lamp) and and Radio (Guess) are all identified as males and have male voices. The titular appliance and Blanky (an electric blanket) are prone to fan confusion as Toaster is voiced by a woman, addressed by male pronouns in the film, but the director says he thought of Toaster as a woman, and Blankey, who's voice is unusually child-like and timid compared to the rest of the cast, but is voiced by a man, and not a woman as is typical of any child character in animation. Another bizarre character is that of Spongebob, who is typically referred to by masculine pronouns, has a romantic interest in a female character, has a mother and a father, and yet explicitly states he is asexual (that is, biologically, not that he isn't interested in sex as it usually means with humans), and once took on the motherly role in a temperary parent relationship to the male Patrick that caused some minor moral panic for possibly depicting a gay couple raising a child (though the point of the episode was more a defense of the stay at home parent, regardless of gender, and the frustration when the working parent doesn't understand that child rearing is a full time job, which is a problem any couple in such an arrangement, even one between two different species, one of whom reproduces asexually).

The reason it doesn't often come up is that English doesn't have many words that are gender dependent, lacking it's two nearest language family members gender changing articles ("The" and "a/an" are gender neutral compared to German's similar articles, which change depending on gender. The Simpsons gag of "Die Bart Die" is not proper German as Bart, a male, would be properly rendered "Der Bart Der". Die is feminin) nor do adjectives receive gender suffixes indicating nouns the adjective describes (French, and any latin based language for that matter) and in both cases, the asignment in gender is rather straight forward, where as both of the related languages are arbitrary. Gramatically, English relies on word order (like German) to which words are which, which is why German doesn't change suffixes (Generally, english and German are [subject][verb][predicate]), while Romance languages have a prefered order of words but it's not necessary (preferred is [Subject][Predicate][verb], but since the subject noun will have a different suffix then the predicate noun, and verbs conjugate differently then either of those, order doesn't matter so long as you're using the correct suffixes. "Life of Brian" mocks this (in English) when anti-Roman activist Brian grafitis a wall with an intended message of "Go Home Romans" but the exact translation uses the wrong modifiers rendering the meaning incomprehensible in both latin and the direct translation, and a confused Roman centurian catches Brian in the act and is more angry about the fact that "Romans They Go The House" doesn't say anything, then the anti-roman propaganda or the vandalism of graffiti. English does have some capacity for this as the predicate can appear anywhere in the sentance so long as the verb follows the subject. It's popularly called "Yoda speak" as the Jedi master speaks in this form exclusively. Consider the real Yoda line "My own counsel I will keep" versus a standard order of "I will keep my own counsel". Both are clearly understandable statements of the same meaning, which is different then "My own counsel will keep I" which doesn't contain valid meaning (and first person singular predicate pronoun is "me" in english). The Russian Reversal joke actually relies on the fact that "You" is appropriate in both the standard arrangement and the reversal, but it fundamentally changes the meaning of the statement (Standard: In America, you watch the TV. Yoda: In America, the TV you watch. Russian Reversal: In Soviet Russia, The TV watches you.). This is less important to the question, but fun with languages and how gendered languages use gender differently. English simplified, German keeps it for reasons only known to the Germans, and Romance Languages use it because they are very close to Latin, which used it in part to denote word order. English is mostly a Germanic langue (especially with grammar) heavy use of Romance language loan words by way of French. The simplified genders likely removed the rather confusing gender nature of German (which was functional without genders) and the difference occurred long before French entered.

Just be glad that your not Polish Royalty, where the dynastic sucession of the King of Poland was preserved when someone clever realized that the law said Poland could only be ruled by a King, not a Queen, but the law never said that the person who was King must be a male. Thus all of Poland's monarchs were Kings... especially the women who held the crown (by the way Queen denotes two different positions in English language. A female Monarch is a Queen, but so is the spouse of a Male monarch (King). The spouse is typically the "Queen Consort" to denote she is royal by marriage to the monarch, not a monarch in and of herself. The Royal female Monarch flip of this will have a Queen's spouse referred to as a Prince Consort and typically King refers to the person who may weird monarch powers, what ever they are. Polish has no word for a female monarch, so King is gender neutral title for the role, regardless of status. Similarly, the title Pharaoh didn't have a feminine counterpart so female rulers were Pharaohs. The famous false beard a female Pharaoh wears is ceremonial. Male Pharaohs without much in the way of facial hair also wore false beards. The style of the beard was apart of the traditional vestment and is much more akin to a crown in the symbolic importance.

  • 1
    This could benefit from some headings and more paragraph breaks. Right now, it's just a wall of text. – T.J.L. Oct 8 at 15:38

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .