This is a question out of gross ignorance, so I may be way off the mark here. If that's the case, the answer should be easy to provide in the negative.
I'm an American, I spent the first ~29 years of my life monolingual, as most Americans do. Then I learned Spanish and some Portuguese.
In English (or perhaps in America?) is a fairly strong reaction against gender-specific pronouns when they are used to refer to people of mixed or unknown gender. This often leads to awkward grammatical constructions to avoid "favor" toward men in speech or writing, such as:
- the singular "they"
- using "he or she", "(s)he" or "he/she" when simply "he" would suffice from a grammatical standpoint
- Alternating between "he" and "she" throughout a book, article, or other work
- rewording a sentence so that no personal pronouns are used at all
- The addition of entirely new gender-neutral pronouns
In Spanish, I have not seen any of these grammatical gymnastics. The only case I've ever seen, and it's been rare, of using a gender-neutral pronoun where a gender-specific one would make more grammatical sense is in the case of the word "amig@s" in place of "amigos."
Spanish is, of course (and in contrast to English) permeated with gender-specific nouns. It's common to refer to myself (a man) as "she" in certain contexts, and its not awkward.
Aquí hay muchas personas y yo soy la que traje la cerveza.
Roughly translates to (I have translated more literally than normal to demonstrate my point)
Here are many persons, and I am she (the one) which brought the beer.
Is the reaction against gender-specific pronouns when referring to mixed or unknown genders a product of a languages' gender (or relative lack thereof)? And if so, why?
Alternately is the reaction against gender-specific pronouns primarily an Americanism, and incidental to the differences in language?
Or am I only aware of this reaction against gender-specific pronouns in the language I speak most fluently, because these subtleties are lost on me in Spanish and Portuguese where I'm less likely to pick them up?
A partial theory
I offer this theory not because I think it is likely to be substantially correct, but because it's the only theory I've thought of, and it should serve as an example of the format of an answer I'm looking for.
- In languages that have gender for practically every noun, the issue is less visible. When one is accustomed to referring to trees, forks, cars, and houses a male or female, even though they clearly have no male or female characteristics, it seems much less unnatural to refer to oneself or ones group of friends as a gender that may or may not relate to their actual sex.
- Further, because of the permeation of gender in these other languages, as in my example above, even men are sometimes feminized in speech and writing, so there's not a strict or obvious "male dominance" in effect to which one can react.