Another topic

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Wed Dec 3 20:16:57 EST 2003


On Wed, 03 Dec 2003 17:44:26 -0700, Robyn Starkey wrote:

>>I've mostly seen it in contemporaries of Nesbit (and earlier) but only in a
>>general sense--I can't cite many examples.  What I've seen most often is
>>referring to an infant as "it," not so much older children.  I don't know
>>why that is.
>
>It goes back to medieval conceptions of gender (as a part of a person's 
>identity, not the physiology) as something that only develops as children 
>move into adulthood. Shakespeare refers to children as "it" most of the 
>time, too. I think when the usage rolled back to infants it was following 
>an idea that infants don't really have gender in terms of social identity.

This makes sense in terms of the instances I can remember.  The mental
picture that comes up with it is how kids male and female were always
dressed in those long gowns--and, for that matter, babies don't generally
look male or female.

>>who calls all her kids "you there"
>>on the assumption that they know who they are
>
>And they do, too.

They do if they want dinner.

Melissa Proffitt

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