When I was a stroppy schoolgirl, I wrote an essay using ‘she’ for the generic pronoun. (‘If the worker wishes to throw off her shackles, she must first control the means of production.’) My teacher said this was wrong and that I should use ‘he’. I asked why, given that I’m a she, and my teacher responded with a smirk, ‘The masculine embraces the feminine.’

No. It doesn’t. Women are not a subgenre of men, and queer is not a subgenre of straight, and multicultural romance is not a subgenre of romance about white people.

–KJ Charles says love is not a subgenre.

KJ’s article is unpacking the assumptions we have about “default” in the romance genre, a.k.a. the “why is queer romance called queer romance but straight romance is just called romance” chestnut. It’s good. Y’all should read it.

That being said, I picked this quote in particularly as a bit of an aside. Because I’m reading Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice at the moment and that book uses “she” as the generic pronoun (for cultural reasons relevant to the novel). It really should be required reading for anyone who insists on using the reverse in the Really Real World. Read it, then write an essay on how that one simple little choice erases an entire gender from the book’s narrative, even though one of the main characters is male.

Paper’s due on my desk next Monday. Off you go.