New Genderless AP Style Rules: Don't Refer to Countries or Ships As 'She'

Brittany M. Hughes | August 23, 2022
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In the latest update to their famous journalistic style guide, the Associated Press is now telling writers to stop using female pronouns to refer to countries, ships and other sea-faring vessels, or voice aids like Siri and Alexa, instead recommending using the genderless pronoun “it.”

“Our style: Don't use the pronoun ‘she’ in reference to nations, ships, storms or voice assistants except in direct quotations. Use ‘it’ instead,” the AP posted on Twitter.

To understand the ridiculousness - as well as the ultimate insult - of this change, it’s worth noting the history behind why ships are commonly referred to as “she” – and it has nothing to do with the patriarchy, toxic masculinity, or any other male-domination nonsense.

Culturally speaking, it's thought that early sailors saw ships as a sort of “mother” protecting seafarers on their journey, guiding them on their way and sheltering them from threats. But, perhaps more likely, ships are often referred to in the feminine simply because the Latin word for “ship” – Navis, from which we also get the word “Navy” – is a feminine noun.

Related: Hu? Nem?...Huh? More Made-Up Pronouns Join The Endless List

Similarly, countries are often referred to as “she” based on the concept of motherhood and birth being intrinsically attached to the nation from which a person comes. Women birth people; nations birth citizens.

As for Siri and Alexa, it only makes sense to use female pronouns, given that the actual voice-overs are…well, female.

But apparently the Associated Press has a problem with attaching the female gender to powerful objects or icons associated with dignity, strength, and protection, instead replacing yet another female-centric cultural reference with the bland, genderless – and apparently far less offensive – “it.”

In that vein, I shall now be referring to the AP as “garbage.” Sounds much more apropos, don’t you think?