I? agree with some of what you say - but do not agree that language is trivial - it forms our beliefs and perspectives. I, as a well-balanced woman do take offense at being alientated by language that does not include me - such as only using 'he' or 'man' to represent humanity - and sometime it is even unclear in such dialogues whether the speaker means humans or men specifically. Just imagine that all words were female-centred and 'she' 'women' and 'chairwoman', etc was used for everything, including men - can you not imagine how that could, at a deeper even subconscious level, make you feel excluded?
A good book on this subjecct is Dale Spender's Man Made Language.
On 7 Jul 2007, at 09:56, Gavin wrote:
Just to contribute to this one - I regard political correctness as an insidious problem in society. It represents - at best - wishful thinking and at worst deliberate obfuscation of truth. It is therefore an assault on truth and as such should be avoided at all times.
I think issues such as "chairman/chairperson", "postman/post person" are trivial and most people (including well-balanced women) realise they do not really constitute a serious derogatory claim against women, but if they want to be called chairwoman etc. then fine. The more worrying issues are when police are afraid to report their true statistics for fear of being labelled racist, afraid to stop people of a particular description (who they should obviously be stopping) for the same reason, positive discrimination in the workplace, moral relativism, use of diversionary euphemisms and so on.
Political correctness has been a serious problem, but thankfully it looks like it is falling out of fashion now: politeness and honesty can co-exist without it.
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