A widely used online writing and grammar resource for students suggests that they find alternatives to words like “humanity” and “factor” because those terms are “sexist.”
Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) offers a document called “Stereotypes and Biased Language” – which was updated last week – which encourages students to “avoid using stereotypical language or biased in any way, “frequently adding this biased language. occurs on the basis of gender, “but may also offend groups of people on the basis of sexual orientation, ethnicity, political interests or race.”
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“Writing in a non-sexist and unbiased way is both ethical and effective,” advises the OWL. “Gender neutral writing is necessary for most audiences; if you write in a sexist way and keep a large portion of your audience away from your discussion, your writing will be much less effective.
The guide then provides examples for “generic use” of non-sexist language, noting that “although MAN in its original meaning carries the double meaning of adult male and adult male, its meaning has become so narrowly identified with the adult male that the generic use of MAN and other words with male markers should be avoided.
Therefore, instead of writing “humanity”, the OWL suggests that students write “humanity”, people ”or“ human beings ”.
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The guide also takes issue with the word “man-made”, saying it should be replaced with alternatives such as “synthetic”, “manufactured” or “machine-made”.
The introduction goes on to explain that students should be careful in how they describe professions, again suggesting that the use of “male” should be avoided for professional terms in cases where the job may be held by a person. man or woman.
For example, the OWL finds the use of the term “mailman” inappropriate, preferring “postman” instead. Other terms, such as “member of Congress”, should also be avoided, using “representative of Congress” instead.
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“Historically, some jobs have been dominated by one gender or the other,” the guide concludes. “This has led to the tendency for a person of the opposite sex to be ‘branded’ by adding a reference to gender. You should avoid marking the genre in this way in your writing.
Campus reform contacted the director of the OWL, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
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