Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gender Inclusive Language

We are back into the triple digits and it's just too hot. Sadie wants to spend all day in her blow up swimming pool. We started with one pool, but it's now up to three. Two of the pools are tiny, blow up pools that were on sale for two dollars at CVS. We picked up two because we wanted to fill one with sand to make a sand box. But it's just too hot, so right now both of them are filled with cold water. The third pool is one I got at Target a few years ago and never took out of the box. I spent the morning dragging tarps around to create a spot for it, and it is now set up in the shade under an oak tree, right next to Grumpa's tractor. It's 1o feet by 6 feet and Sadie thinks that it's the greatest thing that she's ever seen. As soon as she wakes up from her nap we're headed back out for more swimming! We swam a little this morning, but it was so cold (the water) that I had to drag her inside kicking and screaming before she turned into a tiny ice cube.

It's almost too hot to think...

Except I'm pinned under a sleeping baby and there's not much else to do. So I might as well think about something that's worth thinking about. And this is the topic that keeps popping into my mind. I hate gender neutral language. It drives me crazy. I'm a writer and words are important to me. It sounds unnatural and forced when a story or song or essay is essentially neutered so that no over sensitive person will be offended. You can probably tell that it's a huge pet peeve of mine. It probably doesn't help that feminist ideology in general irks me, Here's how the issue first came to my attention.

We were singing Christmas Carols at Mass (I think it was the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass) and my book was folded in the seat back in front of me. I sang in our the Community Christmas Choir in the town I grew up in and I loved singing carols and acting and singing in the pageants at my church each year. I didn't need my hymnal because I knew all the words. Or at least I thought I did. In fact, I didn't because the gender inclusive language feminists had hijacked our Christmas carols. We can't possibly have "peace on Earth good will to men" because someone might be offended by the word "men." Now the song reads "peace on Earth good will to us." In my ears the verse falls flat. We can't have "mankind" anymore either but "all of us" should sound just as elegant.

My husband has even run into it at his nominally Catholic University. He has been told that gender inclusive language is the language of The Academy and he will be graded down if he uses non-inclusive language in his papers.

I think it's all a little ridiculous. As a child I understood that mankind included me, even though I was a girl. I have the distinct impression that anyone who is offended by the word "mankind" in a Christmas carol has some major hang-ups. I guess it bothers me because I hate to see century old songs butchered so that misguided feminists can feel good about themselves.

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