Get Inspired, Be Empowered Forums Gender Justice The need to incorporate gender neutral (or gender inclusive) pronouns in every day speech and writing. Reply To: The need to incorporate gender neutral (or gender inclusive) pronouns in every day speech and writing.

Semantee Chattopadhyay
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A student must always try their best, or his or her best? Mailman, policeman, businessman? Is there a problem with using these words? Do we still use the words man or mankind to refer to people in general? The way we usually speak is old-fashioned or sexist and needs to be changed. We have to keep a check on how we speak. Do the words we use support gender equality and inclusion? Or do they reflect and reinforce a history of excluding women from privilege and power?
Language is always changing. So what we used to say 50 years ago is not the same as we do now. This is generally about professions that used to be filled with men but now they are also filled with women. Due to these changes in society and the status of women, we are using different ways and different grammar to talk about men and women. ‘Mankind’, ‘chairman’, ‘man made’, ‘fellow’ are some of the male-centred words. There is a perpetual association of male terms with power and strength, and women female terms with insult and with weakness. When we use female words to insult people, we communicate a pretty disturbing message. Does this shape our expectations for men and women, or even our self and self-worth? People sometimes feel excluded even if they know that it wasn’t the speaker’s intention. Many women do feel included by these terms and that’s entirely understandable. Women are conditioned to be this way. When we use male based generics, we erase women linguistically, symbolically we annihilate them. A visionary Marilyn Frye imagines all of the gender inequality as a birdcage that tarps women inside. Everyone has the power to break the sexist language, its entirety within our control. Language is a choice that we make constantly and it should be used wisely.