Words matter. Innocuous as some may be, they can come with baggage not always obvious. It may simply be because we grew up saying certain words and accepted them or we could be oblivious or something else might be going on.

Words like fireman, policeman, serviceman, workman, etc. all probably came into being because only men once had those jobs. It makes sense that firefighter, police officer, service member, and worker are the more preferred words today.

It’s beyond being politically correct. It’s about being inclusive. It’s about not being discriminatory. It’s about being accurate. It’s about evolving.

The use and connotation of words can change. We don’t call someone a Negro today. We don’t say a bundle of sticks is a faggot, though it is. Plenty of examples exist as to words that are no longer acceptable in every day conversation.

Pronouns and other gender distinguishing words are also important to reconsider.

Voters in the Bay Area city of Oakland this November will decide if the Charter (which is akin to a constitution for a city) should have gender specific words replaced with gender neutral ones. Berkeley already did this in 2019.

In Oakland’s Charter, which was adopted in 1968, female police officers are known as matrons.

Where he/him/his is used to refer to everyone and not just men, those words would be replaced with they.

Now if only we could collectively do away with woMAN, feMALE and MANkind, to name a few words, then we truly would be making progress when it comes to having words be less male-centric.

It’s not that I want to do away with my gender. I just would like it tied less to the other one, to be more autonomous and distinctive in the words that are used for it. It probably won’t happen in my life time, but it doesn’t hurt to dream.

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