General Question

xxporkxsodaxx's avatar

Why do we use she to refer to inanimate objects?

Asked by xxporkxsodaxx (1386points) May 21st, 2008

I’ve heard this term a lot lately

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

5 Answers

Mtl_zack's avatar

she usually refers to boats because sailers used to be only men and they thought “there has to be one woman on this ship on this long journey, so why not make it the ship”.
i often hear it refer to countries as well because the leaders of countries used to be mainly men, and when you became a leader of a country, you symbolically married it.
cars are often reffered to as female because girls back in the day were possessions, so a car and a woman could be related.

willbrawn's avatar

I would say because a man has feelings strongest for the women in his life. So naturally he associates something he loves ( an object ) with a woman. Hence the phrase “look at my car isn’t she beautiful”

wildflower's avatar

In some languages, creatures and things are gender-specific. Faroese (my native) is one example and in that, a chair (stólur) is a ‘he’, a table (borð) is an ‘it’ and a computer (telda) is a ‘she’.
Even though English doesn’t do this and only has ‘common-gender’ or ‘non-gender’ (I don’t know what it’s actually called, but this works for me), I think we associate genders with creatures and things that technically should be ‘it’s’. I know I can’t call a cat or dog an ‘it’, they’re ‘he’s’ or ‘she’s’.

jasonjackson's avatar

I don’t how it got started, long ago, but I think it persists (among men, anyway), for two reasons:

1. Physical objects that get called “she” (like cars or boats) often have a certain beauty in their curves or lines that, while not sexual at all, can still be understood in terms of desire. For instance, think of how desirable a really fast sports car can be, and how its styling can be fetishized as ”sexy”. And owning a nice car or boat is, in many circles, as much as an emblem as having “made it” as the traditional trophy wife.

2. These things often malfunction at inopportune times, require time-consuming and/or costly maintenance, or (if you’ve spent a lot money, say) fail to live up to the hype & expectations. In short, they can be a bit unpredictable and ”cranky”.

So.. you can see how those attributes match the male perception of the female form & psychology, right? Even if only ironically or tongue-in-cheek? :)

Heh, that’s what I like to think. But honestly, I’d say it’s just because of tradition.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I like jasonjackson’s answer, and I agree with wildflower as well. I think it’s probably a combination of both.

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