Gender Neutral

i’m not sure if this should be categorized under semantics or feminism, though both pet-peeves were drilled into me here (I say that thankfully). While I am certainly not a raving man-hating ‘feminist’ (i am after all a satisfied homemaker), I do have some ‘feminist’ leanings. I remember relating to a rather broad definition of the term in a Gender Communication class (my favorite class ever btw)…though unfortunately do not remember the definition. however, I digress.

I try not to be too overt about it, but I am a stickler for gender-neutral terms. My son uses the following terms: Postal Worker, Mail Carrier, Police Officer, Firefighter. The only word i have trouble with is “chairman”. Chairwoman/man goes back to specifying gender which i prefer to just avoid all-together (therefore you never have to wonder if you have it right) & “chairperson” well…that’s just silly. thankfully that one doesn’t come up in typical conversations with a 2yr old. Anyhow (there i go digressing again), my problem? Children’s books. Even the aforementioned “Someone Bigger” is chock-full of non gender-neutral terms. I realize that they are correctly relating to the gender of the people pictured, but still…..partially b/c it’s confusing for a 2yr old to sort out when to use the male version of the word vs. the female or neutral & partially b/c it’s just a silly pet-peeve that I hold dear….it irritates me. If it’s not a rhyming book & i can sneak it in, I’ll just change the word. However, my beloved “someone bigger” is a rhyming book. It does not sound the same to insert “firefighter” where “fireman” was written.

Worse yet, a big one for me is “you guys”. Ha! Everyone uses that! I think i’ve mentioned before that around the time I was leaving Georgia, I consciously worked to exchange “ya’ll” for “you guys” in my vocabulary. Mostly successful, but somehow my son has picked up the term “guys” & says it to Grace & I constantly. So I constantly redirect him to say ya’ll, “because Grace and I are not guys, we are girls”. The kicker: he’s got me saying it! I’m too impressionable.

4 thoughts on “Gender Neutral

  1. I understand your dilemma. I can’t say that I feel as strongly about it as some, but one of my good friends at Furman took a “Gender” course and we had many discussions regarding “manholes” and “freshmen” and how our language can influence us more than we think. Occasionally, I will catch myself and deliberately say “you all” or even “y’all” instead of “you guys” mostly because it is bothersome to me that saying “you girls” with a man in the group is considered highly insulting to the man (not that I think we should call a mixed-gender group “you girls”…that is not my point).

    On the other hand, I have a strange preference for using men and mankind as universals and consider myself a part of the term most sincerely. I wonder if this is a fruit of hearing references to men in scripture knowing that these promises and commands were intended for me just as much as any man–as if the term is an endearment from my Father, a name that I would gladly accept simply because it is heard in His voice.

  2. Ah, I did forget to mention that (“mankind” thing). Oddly, that is one that has never bothered me either. & I balk at the idea of the new ‘gender neutral’ Bible. Good thing right? Seeing as how the Bible is full of the “universal man”. :o)

  3. st. paul had no problem refering to “the church” in manly terms, “brothers”

    you must use the NLT cause they are gender neutral- and I think they (or NIV) make a point to footnote: “or sisters”

    haha :)