The “naughty” words included stupid, cakewalk, landlord, manpower, peanut gallery, blacklist, American, and a host of others which, the IT department concluded, could hurt people.
If you haven’t yet read why these words are offensive, here are a few brief explanations. And then I will go on to another list of possible candidates, which I hope you will have fun with.
Instead of “American,” we should say “U.S. Citizen” because there are other Americas. (I wonder what that does to MAGA hats?).
“Landlord” should be avoided because it is “gender binary”, i.e., it classifies gender into one of two categories. “Master bedroom” should be dismissed because it sounds like a designated room for the master of the house. Instead, it should be called ¬¬¬the primary sleeping room. “Blacklist” should be avoided because it assigns negative connotations to the color black.
We should not call a person “disabled,” but rather “a person with handicaps.” And a pregnant woman should be referred to as a “pregnant person” or “birthing parent”, although I can’t figure out why calling a woman carrying a baby inside her should not be called a pregnant woman.
Who makes up these rules? And why should you or I obey them?
I could take all these language suggestions like jokes – or a new trend on how the language police tell us we should use words, and do so carefully to ensure we are not injuring a person’s feelings. I don’t want to deliberately hurt people, but if their reactions are severely sensitized, I think it’s time for them to face the real world.
The more I thought of the many words we use, I was bothered because many everyday words are male-based. “HIStory” is not “HERstory.” But his-story is really OURstory. What makes past world events only HIStory?
And how about MANdate? Webster’s defines it as “an authoritative command.” And here, I agree in part, since men love to give authoritative commands, much more so than women.
How in the world did MENstruation get its name, when that doesn’t happen to a single man in the world? And how about MENopause, which also never occurs to a man.
I thought of a lot of other male words that we use: manslaughter, -menace, mansion, manager. I can think oof any words beginning with “women.”
All the female words that came to mind -- well, we have “womanizing,” which is what men do, and “feminist” an attitude by a woman which upsets many men, and “misogyny” – those men who don’t like women.
The Stanford IT guide also suggests we redefine some words. A prostitute is not the woman you think she is, but rather a person who makes money on sexual activities. And, a “homeless person” is no longer homeless, just a “person without housing.”
The guide tells us to avoid “straight” in talking about heterosexual men because it suggests others are crooked. That’s a bit too creative for me for a rationale to avoid the straight word.
‘Cakewalk” is a Southern term ascribe to black men who were dancing and performing and who got a piece of cake as their reward. IT prefers we use the word “easy” or “simple” as a way to describe a reward for entertaining.
As to women, the medical world sometimes differentiates a bit too much for women’s treatments. A friend of mine went to her physician for a knee problem and was told she had “housemaid’s knee.” Would he have said that to her husband who had the same problem – but the doctor diagnosed his as bursitis. Why that pejorative description of an ailment in females?
I had a GP who I went to with a urinary problem and he sent me to the PAMF Mountain View facility because they had female urologists who could better help me. Doesn’t the Palo Alto office have a urologist team, I asked. We do, but they don’t care for women’s problems. That was three years ago. A female urologist in Palo Alto’s PAMF denied that was true.
I thought attitudes toward women’s illnesses changed in the medical field, but obviously not. I remember that years ago anything in the pelvis area of a female was medically described as a “woman’s issue.” -- that evidently all doctors are not “trained” to handle. Amazing. We women are not some alien species cloaked in women’s mysterious bodies.
Language rightfully changes over time; we correct manty imp roper words (thank God the “N” word is disappearing because the public so disapproves of its use). We have a way to go, I admit. But we don’t need an informational technology department telling us what words are right or wrong to use. Or some political progressives who demand some uses of words be curtailed.