The traditional singular generic is a masculine one (Editor's note: In English, anyway.). Examples of this are "Every man for himself" or "Whenever a person brushes his teeth, he should also floss." In the first case, man is often used to represent all persons (male and female), yet it is assumed that the inclusion of all sexes is understood in the sentence. In the second example, the sex/gender of the person is not stated, so masculine terms (his and he) are used, again implying that these terms are understood to apply to all people.

Feminists critiqued this grammatical practice, claiming that it normatized the male, while marginalizing and not including women (attitudinally) in these sentences. To some degree, this campaign was a success, as most English teachers now teach the gender neutral pronoun usage, such as "he and she" or "his and hers." Although somewhat clumsy, this inclusion was an important step in the rhetoric and semantics of the feminist movement and the English language.

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