Associated Press Will Not Refer To Powerful Natural Events As “She”

( The Associated Press updated its style manual on Monday with a new rule on using the pronoun “she” in specific contexts.

The AP Stylebook’s official Twitter shared an update on Monday informing users that “nations, ships, storms, or voice assistants” do not need the usage of the pronoun “she.” Who knew for so long we’d been misgendering inconsequential, genderless items that don’t reproduce? We are to blame.

Putting jokes aside, some aspects of AP’s upgrade might not sit well with people who refer to ships as “shes.” The practice of referring to ships as “she” is as old as time.

According to Imperial War Museums, the tradition is based on the notion that one’s ship represents a “female figure, such as a mother or goddess, guiding and safeguarding a ship and crew.” Captain Ernst Lindemann of the Bismark battleship was one of the rare people to refer to a ship as “he,” and he did so “in view of its immense might,” according to the museum’s website.

One gets the impression that calling ships “she” is more of a personal preference than anything AP gets to decide. Similarly, The Hill highlighted that calling a country “she” is reportedly a throwback to our “motherland” and hasn’t indeed been used frequently in decades.

According to Britannica, naming storms after women may have started with Australian meteorologist Clement Wragge, who liked to amuse himself by picking names for ladies, mythical characters, and politicians. There wasn’t much else to do to pass the time when he started doing this in the 1890s.

Fascinating trivia: Feminists sought to reform the custom of naming storms to include masculine names in the 1970s. The Washington Post reported that the plan was opposed because people “would not take storms seriously if names did not convey images of female fury.”
The Washington Post wrote that by 1978, they began employing a variety of alternative approaches to name storms that use both male and female proper names for persons. The AP can hold Apple and Amazon liable for misgendering voice assistants by giving them the names “Siri” and “Alexa,” respectively.

Naturally, none of this affects how you describe countries, ships, storms, or voice assistants in your writing.