Wednesday, 10 May 2017
Paperback's Pondering's: Gender Neutrality in Writing
Today's post is not really book related, rather writing related, and something that I really wanted to discuss and get other people's opinion on.
So the other day in my religion class, my teacher handed back a writing assignment that we had done. When my friend got hers back, she noticed that she had gotten a mark off next to a word in her assignment: mankind. When she asked our teacher, the teacher told her that she had taken the mark off because she should have stayed gender neutral in her assignment, thus using "humankind" instead of "mankind," because it implies that she is only talking about men. We were all kind of baffled about this because we had never been told this in any other classes before, mankind is just something you put without even thinking about it. I've never taken offence with someone using "mankind." That's when I knew I had to make a blog post on this and get some other opinions.
This teacher in particular is very big on gender neutrality. Even in another assignment that I had done, which was about the legalization of prostitution, I referenced women as being the prostitutes I would focus on, as they are typically the gender that goes into forced prostitution, and typically are more likely to be abused. But she insisted that I change "women" to "people."
This whole debate sparked her to do an entire lesson on remaining gender neutral and insisting that this notion should have been taught to us years before. But the truth was, it hadn't. Literally none of my other teachers in my entire life have even given a second glance at the word: mankind. And I haven't either. It's just one of those words that you obviously know isn't just referencing a man, but just uses man because unfortunately when the English language came to be, it was a male-dominated society.
I can't help but think that there are worse problems in the world. It sounds harsh, but to be honest, all of the females in the room agreed that we were not and probably never will be offended by the word: mankind. It's just something that we're used to. But then I began thinking about the topic further, and thought about what a non-binary, genderqueer or genderfluid person might think about using mankind? Some people do not identify with being just male or just female, so would they prefer using humankind to be inclusive of all gender types? So should we all make the switch?
The point I'm trying to maker here is, that the teenagers of today, or at least all of the ones I talked to about the subject, are not really affected by the use of masculine words in writing. We simply just don't care either way. But that doesn't mean that it's not a problem and really I think you could argue either way.
So please, share your opinions with me because I'm dying to know what other people think about this. And especially if you identify under a different gender umbrella, I'd love for you to educate me.
Emily @ Paperback Princess