Looking for the loo

Mary Beard

  • You just don’t understand: Women and Men in Conversation by Deborah Tannen
    Virago, 330 pp, £14.99, May 1991, ISBN 1 85381 381 8

Three years ago the University of Cambridge voted to revise its Statutes and Ordinances: all references to ‘he’ were to be replaced with ‘he or she’ or (mindful of the university’s responsibilities to English style) with some more elegant, non-sexist circumlocution. No longer would female students and staff be forced to assume that all the rules and regulations applied equally to them even though they were framed entirely in terms of the male gender. Women were to be formally and publicly included, to the last dot and comma.

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