the humyn league
the humyn league
He, she or they? Guidelines on gender, language getting update
Found in: THE NEWS-GAZETTE (Chicago), link via Gleeful Extremist
Language, thought and culture influence each other, and a new set of guidelines for word and grammar choices strives to eliminate stereotypes about men and women. “Guidelines for Gender-Fair Use of Language” will be in the spotlight later this month at the National Council of Teachers of English convention in Atlanta. The group is based in Urbana. The statement was originally written in 1975. It was revised in 1985 and was previously known as “Guidelines for Nonsexist Use of Language.” “We used to use the term ‘sexist.' I think we've come to realize that what we want to talk about is gender, it is in cultural terms as opposed to biological,” said Mary Harmon, a professor at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan who was a leader in creating the documents.
There are certain phrases in the English language I have conceded to changing. For instance, I will call a female postal worker simply a postal worker instead of the mailman. I'll even accept flight attendant in place of stewardess. But sometimes I think we have flown over the edge of political correctness and into some language based twilight zone.
The document Guidelines for Gender-Fair Use of Language, revised 2002 calls for drastic changes in the classroom. One portion states:
Avoid exclusionary forms such as mankind, man's achievments, the best man for the job, man the controls, man the ticket booth.
Choose inclusionary alternatives such as humanity, human beings, people, human achievements, the best person for the job, take charge of,
staff the ticket booth.
Also, instead of man-made (as in man-made materials), use the phrase artificial materials or even synthetic materials.
Freshman (as in certain official names such as freshman orientation). First-year student is an alternative which may work.
Alumni is a masculine plural form; alumnae is the feminine plural.
Don't use age-old phrases such as "you guys go ahead." Don't say "I'm having lunch with the girls." (Even if the girls may not mind that you say that)
Here's my favorite: Addressing correspondence Mr. and Mrs. Michael Webber is exlusionary. Instead, use Ms. Olivia Webber and Mr. Michael Webber.
So, do I start teaching my kids to say person-hole instead of manhole? Do we change spellings in accordance with these guidelines, as in womyn or humyn instead of woman and human? I'm sure Mr. Man Eating Shark will not be pleased to have his name changed to Person Eating Shark. It just doesn't have the same ring to it.
Does, how's it hanging, man? become how's it hanging, person?
If I were to write a manifesto about manatees, I would have to call it a Personifesto about Personatees. Or Peopleatees. Peopleifesto?
Shit! What do we call Manhattan now? Humanhattan?
Why must we teach our children to tiptoe around the language? Pretty soon they will be afraid to open their mouths, in fear that they might offend someone. When I say "Hurry up, guys!" my daughter does not protest my use of the word guys and I hope she never does.
I'm going to lunch. Maybe I'll have a Manwich. I mean, a Womanwich. No, a Peoplwich.
Fuck it, I'm going to have a salad. I can't mess that word up.