GOOD

Not-superb Idea: The E.U.'s New Ban on Gender-specific Words

Oh, boy. The European Parliament has circulated a pamphlet banning the use of gendered language by MPs. The list of  verboten words includes Mrs, Miss (and their equivalents in other languages), fireman, statesman, sportsman, man-made, headmaster, policeman, male nurse (kind of hilarious, admit it),..\n


Oh, boy. The European Parliament has circulated a pamphlet banning the use of gendered language by MPs. The list of verboten words includes Mrs, Miss (and their equivalents in other languages), fireman, statesman, sportsman, man-made, headmaster, policeman, male nurse (kind of hilarious, admit it), and others. Midwife is on the OK list, though. So is waitress, because they couldn't come up with a suitable replacement for it.Such silliness! What year is it, 1993? Better yet, 1960? Both stand out as key moments in the fight for gender-neutral language. The former was at the height of that lame 1990s-era political correctness, around the time we figured out that the name game wasn't maybe the best tool to move a feminist agenda forward. (It was also a big year for me personally-it's when I developed a passionate distaste for "lady," a word I've since come to love, like every other chick I know.) The latter is around when this fight began in the first place. A fight that actually mattered at the time. But this kind of no-results, in-theory-only gender warring in 2009? Smoke and mirrors, I say.As far as I'm concerned, you can call me whatever you want, just make sure my friends and I are being paid as well as male colleagues with the same job (an effort that just got another boost, by the way), that we get equal consideration for jobs we're qualified for, and that we aren't being lied to about our reproductive rights by people who pretend to be doctors.Meanwhile, the Europeans clearly have the better PR person, because our own Congresswoman Representative Nancy Pelosi introduced to Congress a similar, but less strict, regulation in January, to zero fanfare.What do you think? Is it just, as one pundit put it, "an artificial imposition to make people inarticulate"? (Ha!) Or does calling someone miss or madam reinforce sexist stereotypes that set women back? Image via
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