Well, let’s see—much of the world has been locked down for a maddening period of time, and people are suffering. So, the United Nations naturally turns its attention to what really matters—promulgating new guidance for using gender-neutral language:
“Help create a more equal world by using gender-neutral language if you’re unsure about someone’s gender or are referring to a group,” the U.N. Twitter account said.
Much of the guidance is the boring,usual stuff—humankind for mankind, chair for chairman, spouse for husband or wife, etc.
But it also broke new ground:
The list suggests replacing “landlord” with “owner” — a term that has its own problematic connotations related to slavery and cannot typically be swapped for the former term without dramatically changing the meaning. (“This is Bob. Bob is my owner.”)
It also suggests using “family name” instead of “maiden name,” although many people would identify their family name as the one they married into. It also suggests using “representative” for “businessman,” even though the former is normally used for a spokesman rather than someone in business.
Even if there were not better things to do just now, it is not the U.N.’s mandate to tell us how to speak:
As a general matter, world-governing authorities should not be in the business of telling people what they should and should not say. Also, the UN’s list of suggested substitute words is kind of bad.
A U.K. diplomat was more direct:
“Stop trying to control people’s language. It’s creepy and unnecessary,” former British Member of the European Parliament Lucy Harris tweeted.
Ordinarily, this would be obnoxious. In our current situation, however, the guidelines are much more infuriating than that and remind us of how useless the U.N.’s gem agency, World Health Organization, has been in dealing with something that is in its purview and does matter: word health.
What struck me as extraordinary about this is it seems like a world away, doesn’t it?
This is pre-coronavirus. People would come out with this garbage and I would throw my toys out of the pram on this programme.
And yet here’s the UN, who should be trying to save lives, and yet they think it’s important on this day to tell people to stop using the word mankind because it’s offensive and sexist.
Morgan thinks that this sort of political correctness will turn out to be a victim of the pandemic:
We can’t go back to this crap, can we? Down pointing backhand index.
The United Nations was founded in 1945 to promote world peace. The U.S. kicks in more than 20 percent of its massive budget.
Surely, it has better things to do than issue silly dicta on non-gendered language? Or maybe not.