Washington State To Adopt Gender Neutral Language

Washington State House

Washington State is moving quickly towards adopting gender neutral language.  Over the past six years, the state has been combing through all of the state laws and statutes and changing out gender based phrases for non-gender phrases.  Examples of these are include, humankind in place of mankind; firefighters instead of firemen; and police officers instead of policemen.  Council member Sally Clark believes strongly in this issue stating, “Some people would say, ‘Oh, it’s not a big thing. Do you really have to go through the process of changing the language. But language matters. It’s how we signal a level of respect for each other.”  Others disagree. Republican state Representative Shelly Short has voted against other gender-neutral bills and plans to do the same this time around.  “I don’t see the need to do gender neutrality,” she said, adding that her constituents want her to focus on jobs and the economy. “We’re women and we’re men.”  One issue with regards to making everything gender neutral, is how is one to know if someone is a male or a female.  It can cause confusion. What’s wrong with referring to a police officer as a policeman or policewoman?  While respect and pay should always be equal, there are in fact differences in the anatomy of men and women.  Is it really an insult to a call a female police officer a policewoman?  It would point to a sad state of affairs if there are women who would consider that discrimination.  Why can’t there be equality while recognizing and celebrating our differences?  Now there are some terms which are understandably questionable, i.e. mankind.  That particular word has a connotation that points to male superiority; created in man’s image.  Humankind is a better term.  But overall, this is a trivial issue.  Imagine if our politicians actually spent time working on important issues like jobs, immigration and poverty?  They might actually get something accomplished.  In its desire to do the right thing, government has lost its sense of what its mission should be.  Oh well, I suppose I’ll have to stop referring to my car as “my girl”.

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