Speaking In A Gender Neutral Language

For hundreds of years the human race has been referred to using the generic term "man". The genesis of the word indicates that it, in reality, originally meant all people. But with the political correctness of society today it is difficult to refer to any one group of people by using any kind of term that may seem gender specific. That is where gender neutral language comes in.
No one likes to be offended, and most people do not want to intentionally offend anyone. So as the second half of the 20th century was playing out there was a feeling among some feminist groups that there was too much gender specific terminology in our language and it all used the male gender. Or so they thought. The term “mann”, later shortened to just “man”, is a generic term that was used to indicate all humans. But as women began to ask for equal rights in the 20th century the term “man” became offensive as it was incorrectly translated to mean that the males of the human race were the dominant. As language has evolved it is not difficult to see how using the term “man” to refer to the entire human race could be offensive to women. As a result there was a gender neutral language that began to develop that has now firmly rooted itself into our vocabulary.

Gender neutral language is speaking in terms of things without using gender as an indicator. The human race is no longer referred to as “man” but as the human race, people, or any one of a number of gender neutral language substitutes. The notion of referring to a ship, or a boat, as “she” has also been replaced. In some circles it is also taboo to refer to the planet Earth as “Mother” Earth any longer. The use of a gender neutral language is an attempt to change the way humans have been speaking for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

As the term “man” was getting phased out, and other gender neutral language changes were being made, it became apparent that people were starting to look at things much differently. Language and communication are very powerful and we take that power for granted as long as things remain the same. As soon as there is a change to the language there is a noticeable change in attitudes. As more and more gender neutral language started to find its way into our everyday language the attitudes towards women began to change as well. Soon women were finding a voice in society and finding themselves competing in the work place and competing at high levels in the work place. I am not na├»ve enough to say that there is total equality yet and that a change in language was the only thing that sparked change. Women still fight for their equality everyday and a change in action on their part was a large part of the reason why attitudes started to change. But it cannot be denied that when the language started to become neutral then so did the attitudes.

I cannot help but wonder if this apparent link between common language and the perceptions of society is the reason that some many fundamentalist Christian groups fight so hard to keep “under God” in the American Pledge Of Allegiance that our children say in school and “In God We Trust” on our money. Perhaps the feeling by these groups is that if we continue to neutralize God out of American society that God himself will become irrelevant to the American people. We already make it taboo to put up any religious holiday decorations and it is also becoming difficult for some religious groups to have their holidays recognized by employers and other official groups. Maybe there is some validity to that thought. Maybe the American public, through religious neutral language, is trying to take the fear of God out of everyday life.
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