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Don’t Make Genderal Assumptions

| Learning | July 19, 2016

(We’re in English class and we’re reading short stories.)

Teacher: “Why do you think the narrator is afraid?”

Me: “I think because he or she just doesn’t seem like a confident person.”

Teacher: “He or she? The narrator is male.”

Me: “It doesn’t say that clearly so I’m not sure.”

Teacher: “Yes, it does.”

Me: “Where? The narrator’s name is Alex, which is unisex, physical description is skinny with brown hair and eyes, and wears a white shirt and jeans. No pronouns are ever used, etc. How does that tell gender?”

Teacher: “Because the narrator has a girlfriend.”

Me: “That doesn’t mean the narrator has to be male. Most likely but not for sure.”

Teacher: “Well, we’re supposed to assume the most likely unless it’s stated otherwise.”

Me: “I hate assumptions like this.”

Teacher: “Well, then, you are going to have to assume because you have to think how the author would write.”

Me: “Yeah, well, I don’t like it that way. I never assume anything.”

Teacher: “Well, I can’t help it if you’re weird. It also doesn’t say whether the narrator is color blind, or is a vegetarian, or even has a prosthetic leg either. We’re going to have to assume no. I’m pretty sure the author would write significant facts when they aren’t the norm.”

Me: “Not unless the author is aiming for a surprise at the end. But then this story is done; however, I still don’t like assuming.”

Teacher: “Well, in this case the narrator is a boy, okay?”

Me: “Okay, fine.”

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