Political correctness

Here we go. Dons kick-arse boots and picks up 17mm Allen key (bought yesterday specifically for this post) to repel all attacks.

So, take care. The 17mm Allen key is one evil bit of kit. Even in my hands.

Now, if you want to read about the history of political correctness, you can find it on wiki. So I’m not repeating it.

Some time ago when I was looking up ‘political correctness’ because I was irritated about people using it as a generalisation for anything they neither agreed with nor understood, I found an interesting article about the historical use of the concept by right-wing parties. Sadly that article seems to have disappeared. Surprisingly.

This isn’t an academic post, I’m looking rather at popular usage of the term. And what is, or isn’t, ‘politically correct – or – incorrect’.

Let’s start with some easy linguistic examples.

My blog post here on Clouds that gets the most hits is what to call someone who chairs a meeting.

To summarise, the options are:

Chairman, Madam Chairman, Chairwoman, Chairperson, Chair.

I’ve done those basically in historical order of usage. Unless you were a member of the USSR where they had chairs a long time ago.

A chair is not just for sitting on (as I once thought). And as I am not a man, I do not wish to be called either of the first two titles when I chair a meeting. The third is gender specific, the fourth is contrived, and the fifth is simple. Easy.

Why is this important? Wait. Some more examples first.

Married names. Or not in my case.

When I got married I didn’t change my name. Elizabeth Taylor was my shining example, so if she didn’t have to do it, neither did I. Plus colleagues on the newspaper kept their maiden birth names too for professional use.

At one point, I thought I would have a change and use my partner’s name. I started with the building society and they managed to use my married name to send statements to me and my birth name for the account. I rapidly changed back.

So I am not Mrs Roughseas. Or Mrs Cloudyroughseas. I am either Miss or Ms. But as you don’t know my marital status, or you didn’t before I wrote this, why would you assume anything? Just call me Ms thank you. Men aren’t identified by their marital status so why should I be? I’m not a possession from the Middle Ages.

Change of subject. What about people with disabilities?

‘Wheelchair-bound’ is a classic. If you’ve worked with disabled people you may have come across their ire when this is used. I certainly have. The implication here is that their lives are restricted to a wheelchair, whereas the other way of reframing the situation is that they can get out and about and move around with a wheelchair. They are wheelchair-users, or people who use wheelchairs.

Disabled parking spaces. That is just inaccurate. The spaces are not disabled at all. When I was writing patient information leaflets for cancer services we had LONG discussions about how to describe the parking bays reserved for disabled people. These days it seems to be ‘Blue Badge Holders only’.

Then there are all the other health terms – elderly services, old peoples’ services or geriatric services?

There is, or was, a continual debate within the health service about the medical model and the social model.

So, the medical model refers to a diabetic, or an epileptic. The person is being described in terms of their disease.

The social model refers to a person with diabetes or a person with epilepsy. The person comes first here, they are not defined by their disease, rather, the disease is an adjunct. Sure they have diabetes or epilepsy, but it’s not the only thing in their life.

Another of my past lives. Health and safety, which seems to get blamed for everything under the sun these days. But even wiki supports me on this. Changes to health and safety legislation are not due to so-called political correctness. Even back 25 years ago when I was working for the Health and Safety Executive we were having to comply with EU regs. Bureaucratic and nanny state intervention would be valid criticisms but describing H&S regs as PC is ignorant.

What about unemployment?

Why on earth does someone think that it is because of ‘political correctness’ that women get work? A comment from a white British male years ago on a forum was on the lines of, he couldn’t get a job because of political correctness and the white working-class male was being victimised due to the other sex getting priority. Join the club sweetheart. I’ve been in it all my life.

What about wolf whistles from building sites? Banned. In the past I’ve had them (surprisingly). Quite right too. To ban them, I mean. No, it is not flattering before you all say it is. There is nothing remotely flattering in some arsehole who you have never met and would never wish to, sending you a verbal message that basically says ‘Oi, I’d fuck you.’ Because that’s what it is.

I’ll go back to gender-specific language, because much of the debate about ‘political correctness’ is relevant to feminism.

I have said this before, but I will say it again for those of you who have not yet got the message. Language influences our thoughts and behaviour. As do images. Por eso we have advertising to influence us to buy products through a judicious use of words and pictures.

If the slow ones at the back of the class have grasped that idea, let’s move on. (I won’t mention the use of the words women or ladies because I have learned the slow ones know better – they would do, they’re men).

Describing a woman who chairs a meeting as a man, perpetuates the idea that she is an anomaly, and that the norm (and the desired one at that) is a man.

Describing a woman in terms of her marital status (or lack of) does the same thing. She has no independence of her own and needs to be categorised.

Describing a disabled person as wheelchair-bound is defining someone by the way they – don’t – get around. It doesn’t respect the person.

Similarly, describing someone by their chronic long-term condition is looking at them as an object. For scientific or medical study.

The whole issue about ‘political correctness’ is not just wanting to use different words for the sake of it, it’s about trying to change outmoded, prejudiced and disrespectful attitudes towards other people. To dismiss that as a derisory political agenda is to dismiss people who are discriminated against.

A few personal anecdotes.

Some years ago, I was parking my car in a city car park. A big black Rasta man approached me and I thought he was going to knife me.

‘Would you like my car parking ticket? It’s not used up,’ he said.

I figured it was time to stop being racist.

In the same city I met up with the woman with whom I’d travelled around the world.

‘Bloody disgrace,’ said her and her partner. ‘The council only wants to employ black lesbian disabled women.’

I’d moved on a little in my thinking by then. There aren’t that many black lesbian disabled women, and why shouldn’t they get a job? Given how prejudiced we all are. Innately or otherwise.

Guys ….

I said I would write this post about political correctness following a comment on roughseas that referred to a ‘guy’ writing a political speech. Given that there are some good women writers, politicians, political activists, and it wasn’t known who had written the speech, I took exception to this, and said commenter took his bat home.

Guy is NOT a gender neutral term, kid yourselves not. Just like saying, ‘when you read he, that also means she’ – but we are too lazy to write s/he for example. That is using the male default. Why not use she? And while ever the male default is used it reasserts patriarchal society. If you don’t understand the concept of a patriarchal society then I would respectfully suggest you don’t weigh in with your ill-considered opinion. I don’t add my lack of knowledge to discussions about LGBTQ or race, so unless you actually know something about feminism (which I doubt from previous comments on here), don’t waste your time.

You guys, may well be used to address a mixed group of company, and be accepted terminology. It doesn’t suit me however. How many times does a mixed group of people get addressed as you gals?

I’m seriously looking forward to the day that heterosexual men accept being called by a default female term.

IF you know what you are talking about, then please comment. If you don’t, then I would suggest you ask a question. If you are just going to come out with boring old simplistic trash about ‘it’s not my view and therefore it’s wrong’ don’t bother.

Also, I’ve heard the one about ‘you’ve got a chip on your shoulder before’ too. That’s why I’m living in Spain and Gibraltar with two houses.

Open for nice comments. Thank you.


About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in blogging, feminism, gender-specific language, journalism, life, musings, WPlongform, writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Political correctness

  1. Andrew says:

    “If you don’t, then I would suggest you ask a question.” Ok, I will.

    Who won the cup final in 1962?


      • Andrew says:

        Nah. Real Madrid. You’re in Spain!!!


        • They don’t have a cup final. And if you wanted a Spanish answer you should have asked in Spanish.

          However you get a bronze star or 5/6 out of 10 for neatly avoiding the main topic, even though you said you were looking forward to the sport.

          You can still play of course. Just, I’m taking no prisoners on this one πŸ™‚ I’ll do it nicely though. It will take you rather longer to look up the relevant info than it did for me to look up Spurs and Burnley.

          Oh and I live in Gib, which is part of the sovereign realm so therefore my answer was correct.

          Next up?


          • Andrew says:

            Haha. Good response. But they do have a cup, the Copa del Rey. In 1962 it was Copa del Generalisimo. I’ll grant you either answer as you have property in Spain & Gib. I intend to carry on avoiding the main topic.


          • SΓ­, pero, copa del rey ain’t cup final. (She writes, using appalling slang). You mean it was Copa del Fascist Dictator?

            You ask for cup final you get a British answer so don’t go trying to be generous and/or smart. Thank you. I know who won the last world cup too πŸ˜€

            Apart from that, I went to watch Liverpool v Everton once (v good) and Leeds at Elland Road v Newcastle. Brilliant spectator sport (what else is sport except for spectacle?) bottles flying everywhere. Wonderful. Can’t remember the football. Think Leeds won.

            I am disappointed. You so said you were looking forward to this, and what do I get? a diversion into football. Still, better than cricket. I can say nothing about cricket except, I have a photo of when my father met Geoffrey Boycott. And snooker of course. But I have written about the lovely and rather dead Alex Higgins elsewhere. I covered swimming recently.

            This is not a sport blog. This is about feminism, writing, animal rights and all the rest of it. Now go away and look up feminism 101 or something.


  2. I really wasn’t game to respond but couldn’t find the like button to show my approval. Going now.


    1. Andrew, (Petcher not Hong Kong), I have removed your comments as they were not remotely relevant to the post, but seemed to be nothing more than a personal attack. If you wish to discuss the points in the post that is fine. Please do not respond to my posts with a load of testosterone-based insults.


  3. Vicky says:

    I was going to comment yesterday when I first read the post, but after reading the rather odd non subject comments, which had dragged a good post down to a personal slanging match, I totally lost my train of thought.
    I see those comments have gone now which is just as well as they added absolutely no value.

    It is a subject I know little about, but reading the post, I would have expected it to provoke some intelligent discussions/arguments from those who do.

    Anyway, back to the points I was originally going to post about.

    I’ve never been in a position to chair anything, apart from sitting on one, but I too find it very sexist that for many years the title ‘chairman’ was the norm, chair person is what would spring to mind now, but chair sounds even better.
    It had never crossed my mind not to take T’s surname when we married, but again, I think it was ‘the thing to do’ in the early ’70’s. In a way, it was a relief to do so, we had lived together for over a year before getting married, and it stopped the gasps and stares we would get when folk realised we were cohabiting.
    The ‘disabled parking space’ brought a smile to my face, I’d never even thought about it, but yes you’re right, the spaces aren’t disabled πŸ˜€
    My last comment is about wolf whistles. Aaaarrrggghhh!!
    Luckily I’m the wrong age group nowadays, but I’d totally cringe when whistled at in my younger days, often made even worse by a flurry of ‘what ya doing tonight luv’ and other crude comments. I often wondered how they would have felt, singled out away from their mates with the tables turned.


    • I suppose I could put them back if it would entertain people. But as you say, there was no value or comment on the content of my post. You say you may know little about it, but perhaps others don’t either, which is the reason for the post.

      Chairing meetings is interesting. The first one I chaired years ago was a press conference – and needless to state not very well. I was seriously nervous. By the time I’d moved into the health service, I gained more experience in attending meetings, taking minutes and chairing meetings. The worst combo is chairing and minute-taking simultaneously which I’ve also done and am doing now. But it beats someone else writing rubbish because you still have to rewrite it all, so might as well have done it yourself in the first place.

      Meetings are simple:

      1) Know what you want to achieve from any meeting
      2) Do some preparatory work, ie write some sensible papers so that people know what they are going to discuss and include recommendations/options – I hate tabled papers and Any Other Business. AOB is banned at all my meetings, I think it is discourteous to everyone to have something thrown at them from nowhere. If you want something included, let me know in advance, I always give notice of meeting dates.
      3) Get a few allies if there is a controversial issue, and always treat everyone with respect.

      I went to a brilliant one years ago, and some whiney hospital director was bleating on about something. The chair said: ‘I’ve heard all this before Les, if you haven’t got anything new to say, shut up,’ or something on those lines. He was gobsmacked. So was I, I’d never heard her speak like that. Went up in my estimation 200%.

      Changing traditional language is evolutionary. I went through the chairperson/chairwoman phase as an automatic alternative to chairman. But because chair is non-gender specific it works well unless of course you belong to the group that considers chairs are only for sitting on and don’t accept linguistic change.

      How odd to look back and realise what a shocking pair you were! When we were living together a decade later in Sydney nobody batted an eyelid. I suppose Sydney wasn’t Redditch though πŸ˜€ My mum and dad would have done 😦 Batted eyelids I mean. A wound them up when we returned from Aus by talking about our dodgy wedding certificate, my dad nearly had a heart attack thinking he’d let us sleep together and we weren’t married!

      I liked writing patient information leaflets. There is a real challenge to writing something that is clear, accurate, readable, and provides enough information. Disabled parking spaces is just one example.

      Wolf whistles eh? One of the local road workers was lusting after a teenager (?) young woman and A told him to cut it out because she was young enough to be his daughter. I don’t think he’s spoken to A since πŸ˜€


  4. I used to think I lived in a fairly gender-neutral society (Canada). After engaging with you several times on somewhat similar topics I have been caused to challenge my earlier beliefs. We’re not as neutral and respectful as I used to think.I am somewhat more attuned to a sneakily-ugly version of gender bias. It seems to take two forms. Form one–often plays out in commercials and comedy shows: whenever someone is supposed to be stupid buffoon, care is taken to ensure that the person is male. Form two–often when a male ‘person of power’ greets a predominantly female group care is taken to address the group as ‘ladies.’ In a previous life I would have interpreted this as politeness now, know what I see? Condescension. Lets reinterpret the two forms: Form one–can’t insult those sweet little ladies now, can we. We’ll make sure their cutsey feelings are not hurt and make sure we poke fun at a man instead. Form two–oh, never mind. I just cringe when a fellow male takes that tone of voice. Know why? because that makes me guilty by association.

    There is one little nit I’d like to pick, though. While the term ‘guys’ is also a grouping word I hate, here in my province we have long used the words ‘boy’ and ‘boys’ as a term of friendly familiarity. If you refer to the person you are talking to as ‘boy’ it implies you are fairly close friends. It is, as you might expect, gender specific! If the person is female, as you expect, the term is ‘girl.’ That only applies in my province–elsewhere, referring to the ‘other’ as boy is generally, extremely derogatory! People from my province have, on many occasions, found themselves in very awkward positions on account of it.

    But that’s not what I’m talking about right now. It’s ‘boys.’ Elsewhere the term is in common use. Coaches, for example, often refer to a collected version of a mens’ team as ‘boys’ and so on. Here, though, as of late it’s become more of a female thing! It’s commonplace here for a female to refer to the rest of a cohort of women/girls as ‘boys.’ For example if a group of women are gathered at someone’s house for, say, a glass of wine before a show, you might here one of them say, “Boys, it’s time to call a cab.” I used to wonder about this one but now, around my province its so commonplace that nobody pays much attention to it. The language is often taken in such strange directions, especially in an island ‘nation’ like mine.


    • I’ve met a lot of Canadians on the Internet and they are well savvy. For want of a better slang term. Far more so than USA. I’ve learned a lot from them.

      I’ll be honest, maybe feminists, left-wing, aware of different diets (eg gluten free), homeless people, LGBTQ discrimination, but does that make them bad people? To me, it seems they respect other people and that is the point of this post.

      I’ve learned loads from you about your Rock of Newfoundland, and how you have managed to improve the education for a disparate community. No, disparate isn’t the right word, geographically challenged perhaps?

      So, if I have returned the favour by giving you thinking something different to consider then I’m not wasting my time. Your point about adverts and comedies is spot-on. Condescension. No more to say. (Apart from patronising and patriarchal of course).

      Yes, boys or girls, is an intimate group description. I had a board meeting once, and we had some medics attending. Introductions were being done and one of my board members (woman, AIDS specialist) said in a deep husky voice: ‘Hello boys, you all remember me.’ And they did. Reverse sexism?

      For me, I don’t agree with it, but it was a personal situation that was between that particular group. She could just as well have said: ‘Hello, I’m Muriel, you all remember me.’ She chose to put a different slant on it.

      There’s a lot of sex in sexism.

      As for women calling each other boys. I’ve got an easy answer to that one.

      Validation of your position in society or life. Still wanting to be regarded as men. Because – inserts broken record – men are still in power. Remember chairman and madam chairman? What’s the difference?

      Thanks. Thoughtful comment and I enjoyed reading it – even if it took me years to reply.


  5. EllaDee says:

    Entertaining post so I’ll risk a comment that fulfils the criteria of nice by at least not being critical, not saying ‘it’s not my view and therefore it’s wrong’, but isn’t a question, and I believe I know what I’m talking about insofar as my comment but wouldn’t, couldn’t adequately assert anything beyond that to discuss the points in the post. I grew up with a stepmother who had penchant for political correctness about almost everything, from her perspective and of her time. It was stifling. Years later I still find it difficult to accept prescriptive courtesy or constructed etiquette than can have consequences equal to or worse than well intentioned political correctness. Up to you if it’s boring old simplistic trash.


    • You can be critical, that’s not an issue. It’s when people start telling me about words without understanding the reasoning behind wanting to use different ones.

      Your stepmother sounds like something out of Cinderella.

      I think you have hit on what I was trying (and probably failed) to explain. This isn’t about doing something for the sake of it, eg the prescriptive courtesy/constructed etiquette that you mention.

      So not, do this because I say so, this is a political decision, this is right. But rather, there are reasons why people prefer the use of different language and these are some of them.

      One of the perennial arguments that is used against change of language, is for example:

      ‘I know someone who …. and they are happy to be described like that.’

      Let’s insert the words wheelchair bound into that. Now said person may well be happy to be described as wheelchair bound, but a lot of other people who use wheelchairs are not. Wheelchair bound person probably has no idea about the politics of disability, just like a diabetic has no idea about the concept of treating a person and not a medical condition.

      Perhaps if people were a little more aware or had a little more understanding they might not wish to be described as a medical condition restricted to a wheelchair.

      As with many other issues, I suspect I am fighting a losing battle on this one.

      Describing something as being politically correct takes away from a genuine understanding of real issues and discriminatory behaviour.

      But there we go. That’s life.


      • EllaDee says:

        My stepmother, sadly I think, is the product of her own well intentioned upbringing. Thank God she had 3 children who give her an incentive for change.
        Political correctness for the sake of it, generalisations, and sometimes realisation & acceptance, will not accomplish what challenging established thought & behaviour will… eventually.


  6. Gee whiz. This is good. I am with you on all accounts. I’ve seen and been on both sides of “political correctness.” In the South or Texas as it were, we throw around slang usuage without giving it much thought. I am guilty of a lot of what you write but I have never wanted to be known as a racist or othewise. I’ve been called on the carpet by a fellow nurse for using the slang name of girl for that is something that I had grown up with. People (females) in the country and in informal group settings call each other girl. As in, “girl do you have any idea what’s going on over there?” Or “girl I just bought a TV and got it on sale.” Girl is a no-no for some individuals of a certain group of people. I did not know that. When slavery still existed the owners called all females, girls. Well I felt as if it were a slap in the face and I apologized profusely. I have since been very careful about girl. Then here is another example. I meet informally with 3 other retired nurses from the same unit once each month for a lunch date. We talk about all sorts of things and generally enjoy each other’s company. One of the women of the group co-ordinates the time, date, etc. Last summer I missed 2 of those meetings because I was in Austin with my very ill daughter. At one of the lunch dates one nurse simply made a statement that she writes on a calendar “lunch with the girls.” So this particular nurse was then chewed up and spit out by another nurse who is not from Texas originally but has lived here for more than 30 years. The non-native Texan ranted on and on that she was not a girl and how dare she be so audacious to refer to her as a girl. Now in the offending nurse’s defense, she did not directly call nurse C. a girl. It was a generalization. I did not know of this until the “offending nurse called me to “see about” how I was doing, etc. The caller had stopped coming to our little lunch dates and I had wondered what had happened.

    So in general, I have made blunders out of ignorance. In my limited experience I think the lack of knowing and or thinking about what we say is in many cases why we are not more politically correct. Frankly I’d rather be politically correct. I am now older. I don’t like being called elderly. And I absolutly hate being inudated with offers of hearing aids, dentures, assisted living, funeral policies, etc. I get this sh– in the mail weekly and I am up to here with the BS. I hate it. Is there no reprieve for anyone past 65 years of age?

    So Ms. Gib, I can’t argue with any of what you have written. I just threw in my two cents worth. This is a most thoughtful post.

    Yes, I know. My comment is too long. Sorry about that. I do not know brevity. We’ve been introduced but I keep forgetting brevity’s name. πŸ™‚


    • Thanks Yvonne. I see you got distracted from health to linguistics!

      I didn’t mention girl, because I didn’t want to make the post too much about feminist words, I wanted to include a lot of different categories to show there were so many examples where people don’t like words that are used because it defines them in a way they are unhappy with.

      Girl is a no-no for me (I’m sure you worked that one out). Yes, it is slang in the same way as guys and boys. However, the problem with girl is that many women want to be called girl. Why? Because that means they look young and they are attractive to men, and they are seeking approbation based on their appearance as a sex object.

      There’s nothing wrong with growing older, whether the transition is from girl to woman to old age. What is wrong – to me – is judging people on that, and particularly in the case of women, idealising the stereotypical young slim beauty aka a girl.

      I understand we all have different cultural languages. Yours in Texas is way apart from mine. I’ve learned from other Americans about the use of ma’am and ladies and your inbred sense of courtesy and politeness.

      What I’m trying to do with this post (and others) is just to explain why some people (me, and others) choose not to be described as girl or lady for example. I can live with ma’am from Brits who know my sense of humour. I’ve also read posts by Americans who don’t want to be called ma’am = old person, and do want to be called lady = refined genteel woman, educated and not working class. I understand where they are coming from, and it’s aspirational.

      I’ve written about the Mitfords before: http://wp.me/p22GQH-lH but it is a neat insight into peoples’ different views of language referring to women.

      We all accept blunders are made out of ignorance and we all do it. All I do is try and point out why some words are inappropriate and loaded in their implication. But when someone continues with the same disrespectful, sexist and patriarchal language after I have pointed it out ? ….

      I don’t want to offend someone by calling them a term they find offensive, or making assumptions that insult them. I would like the same respect back. On the above link, I didn’t reply to comments, because quite frankly, I felt some of the commenters had no idea what they were talking about.

      I was called ‘some old woman’ by a milkman when I was in my 20s! I mean it wasn’t exactly accurate. A couple of years ago, my partner was accused of cradle snatching by a client who didn’t realise I was in my 50s.

      It’s a shame we label people by age.

      Your comment is not too long. I always appreciate anyone who takes the time to write something, whether long or short. Many people write long comments on my blogs πŸ˜€ And it was a good comment. Probably not as long as my reply.


      • Thank you Ms. Gib. And yes, we are quite regional and cultural, as well. I am all too aware of biased, racist, religious, and the political zealots near and not far from me. Frankly I can not stand fanatics of any kind. And I try like h— to not be that kind of person. This is a bit side tracked but it sort of falls in the general category (in my opinion). I think that being correct in how we use words to describe others is based within those categories that I mentioned. And I try very hard not to be judgemental but that is extremely hard to do.

        I have recently learned of a person with whom I had worked who blantantly slandered liberals. At least to me it was a type of slander and only points out how insensitve, crass, and biased is, this individual.

        I’ll not go into that here for this is your blog but maybe I’ll write about it and how individuals are butchering FaceBook in an attempt to get on their soap box. No, I do not “do” Face Book. πŸ™‚


      • I will hold my hand up and say I have strong views. Does that make me a zealot? I don’t tell other people to be vegetarian, or feminist, or rescue animals. OK I wish they would, but I hope my life does not impact on others. I don’t tell people what to do, just to say why I think how I do.

        Facebook? I chucked it a few years ago. People were unhappy to have political discussions (there’s a surprise) and deleted me because I didn’t agree with them.

        I deleted some comments above because they were just a personal attack. Nothing to do with the post I had written. FaceBook was similar. Too personal and in your face.

        I’ve written a few FB posts. Will look forward to yours.


  7. angryricky says:

    When I came out of my undergraduate training, I was well-versed and hardened in gender-inclusive language. Nine years later, I’ve fallen into using some male-centered language, and I do use you guys to refer to groups that include women. I admit that I’m not as feminist as you are, and that sometimes I enjoy the patriarchal benefits of my God-given penis.

    I’ll also admit that the language used to describe historically oppressed groups is more important to me when I identify strongly with the group. I just don’t identify with women in general. The people who have had the strongest impact on me have been women, and I can feel sympathy for individual women, but taken as a group, it’s hard for me to feel invested in their struggle. Maybe it’s because I have had such toxic relationships with my mother and my wife; maybe it’s because I feel that gay men are too often considered not to be men at all; maybe it’s because I think that women don’t need my help to achieve their goals, they being quite sufficiently powerful on their own.

    I once worked closely with students with severe learning delays, those who have reached the age of seventeen with the mental function of someone anywhere from eight months to eight years old. I didn’t learn the names of most of their conditions; I just learned how to interact with Brynn, or Juan, or Austin. After a while I learned that Jake and Karen behave similarly because they both have autism, but that’s still not that helpful of a label.

    Language is very powerful, and you’re right to rebel against language structures that make you feel unwelcome in society. It’s strange to me that people feel the need to attack you for standing up for yourself instead of just wandering away to read something else. It’s a big internet, and no one forced them to come here and read your thoughts.


    • When I graduated from university (first time) I had no concept of non-discriminatory language – I’m talking across the board here, qv the examples above. But that maybe due to the age difference between us, or perhaps because American was more radical and further ahead of the game. Then.

      I know ‘you guys’ is an Americanism. That doesn’t mean I have to accept it. I had discussions on a fem forum about it, some women said there was nothing wrong, others agreed there were alternatives that could and should be used. Nothing like visiting a fem forum for a good argument πŸ˜€

      If you watch one of the Bourne films, think it is the first, one of the lead CIA or FBI or whatever they are, says ‘Come on people, I want him found,’ or something similar. It really stuck out to me, because I could have imagined years earlier that would have been ‘Come on men/guys/any male noun’.

      Being feminist isn’t your battle. You have your own, and you are equally discriminated against. I don’t fight yours, although I will try and support when and if I can. We all have to prioritise. For me it’s feminism, animal rights, environmentalism, trade unionism, I’ve probably forgotten something there, and that’s not necessarily in preferred order. There are others on my list, but those four are hard enough as it is, and the truth is, we can fight better for something we know about.

      There is also a lot of discussion on fem forums about gender, and how it is so divisive. There is some clever phrase that I have forgotten that basically means you should view people as just that and ignore gender. The simplistic way of putting it is, do I care whether you are a man, a gay man, a woman, a lesbian, a trans? No. Too easy to get hung up on sexuality and gender.

      I would however dispute that women are sufficiently powerful to achieve their goals. As a societal group – no. A few individuals? Yes. But we aren’t all Kirchner or Merkel or Clinton or Thatcher – or Bhutto or Gandhi or Bandaranaike.

      Isn’t that the point though? You don’t label. You take people on face value.

      I’d like people to understand why minority groups want to change language. So your previous example was a good one. Jake and Karen, and the others are people with autism. But people don’t see the difference between describing Jake as autistic, and Jake is a person – and among many others way to describe him, eg blue eyes, blond hair, age, where he lives, he has autism.

      I’m not just writing about me. I’m writing about everyone that wants to gain more respect and be treated on our own terms.


  8. Pingback: Impact v intent v2 | Clouds moving in

  9. Pingback: Intent v impact? | Clouds moving in

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