Originally Posted by Prestidigitweeze
But if we're willing to defer to the male-specific gender there, then why not in the case of the pronoun he? Could it be we're overreacting to a red herring based on our mistaking secondary associations for the actual intention and function?
I think the difference is that for things like actor/actress, there is not the tight association with the base word with the male sex that there is with the male third person singular pronoun, "he".
Personally, I like the male/female words, but I'm willing to forgo them if they people involved prefer to move towards a unified word.
And when we consider professions which don't have separate words (e.g. weaver), it would seem pretty odd to try to add in a separate word. Can anyone imagine calling a female weaver a weavress?
So on the whole, it probably is the way the language will go. The simpler option (one word per profession) will win out.