Born and brought up in Chandigarh, Ankita is currently pursuing her B.COM degree from GGDSD collge. She aspire to be a CA and wants to contribute effortlessly towards the welfare of people.
Beginning with the phrase “Gender neutral language”, what does it mean? Gender neutral language is a generic term covering the use of non sexist language or gender-fair language. It resolves the purpose of avoiding word choices which may be interpreted as biased, discriminatory or demeaning by implying that one sex or social gender is the norm. It helps in reducing gender stereotyping.
Moving away from its linguistic meaning, I would like to make it more clear by quoting an example. To be more gender inclusive, once Air Canada altered their scripted greeting welcoming “everyone” instead of “ladies and gentlemen” so that all the passengers feel respected. We are often called ‘boys and girls’ in schools, ‘sons and daughters’ by parents and these titles are all inclined towards a particular gender. And for those who do not fall into the male or female category, these groupings can make them feel alienated. In today’s world when all groups of people are getting their rights they never got before, is it really too much of them to expect such language that is not biased towards a particular gender? I think it is not. There are still some words that are gender specific and we can use gender neutral words in their place. For e.g,GENDER SPECIFIC GENDER NEUTRALMankind Humankind Chairman ChairpersonBusinessman RepresentativeLandlord OwnerSalesman SalespersonManpower WorkforceFireman FirefighterPoliceman Police fighterBoyfriend/girlfriend PartnerHusband/wife Spouse
So we should begin using gender neutral words, especially while talking to a stranger. Many such words have been introduced. According to Merriam Webster, the gender neutral ‘Mx’ is used as a title for those who do not identify as a particular gender instead of ‘Mr’ and ‘Ms’. It is pronounced as mix. Words like spouse, child and parent are also gender neutral. Also, such words should be also used in occupations. Waitresses and waiters should be called servers, mailmen should be called mail carriers and policemen should be called as police officers. Many a times, masculine words are used in general sense. For example: The salesman is moving door to door. Here, salesman include the lady salesperson too. And it is not only about the words but some phrases are also gender specific like ‘Don’t cry like a girl’ or ‘Men don’t cry’.
We all have defined some roles or attributes to particular genders and we tend to say it like anything. And that’s how we go on spreading gender biases. Our words can contribute a lot to reduce these gender stereotypes. And how difficult it really is to just shift towards a particular set of words? So, lets begin now and just now because “Gender Neutral Language” matters as it not only includes all the ‘humans’ but also promotes “gender equality”.