The pendulum of so-called political correctness has swung from the male chauvinist extreme towards the neutral position; continuing its trajectory and moving beyond neutral to the other extreme would be pointless, unhelpful, and with vigilance unlikely.
My concern is the language I have heard women speak in recent years, such as:
- “I must put my big boy pants on.”
- “I’ll have to man up.”
- “I’ll need to grow some balls.”
I try hard to be correct in my word choices, indiscriminate people might call me a pedant, but I’m too fallible to deserve that accolade, and besides, regardless of the topic, I avoid zealots and zealousness, that is, I try to avoid extremes.
No, my approach tends towards what is useful, accurate-enough, and helps humankind move to a trajectory that enhances and maintains our individual and collective welfare.
So imagine my disbelief when I heard the above. Are the perpetrators simply thoughtlessly reciting worn-out clichés, were they being ironic, sarcastic, trying to be funny, or did they really believe that to succeed at anything you have to be a man?
I’m not advocating descent into rabid man-hating – that would be suicidal! No, what I’m suggesting, well-meaning risqué attempts at humour aside, is that we refrain from irrational thoughts and expressions that risk reinforcing and perpetuating gender or any other biases or stereotypes for that matter!
There are plenty of words in the English language; surely, we can come up with neutral expressions. Have fun with the language. Show some artistic skill and creativity. Suggestions in case you are suffering from a poverty of imagination:
- “I’ll go and put my big pants on.”
- “I’ll have to step up.”
- “I’ll have to show some gumption.”
- “I must start growing a spine.”
You can do it. Once, after crushing my finger to such an extent that it instantly turned black and I contemplated getting the secateurs to finish the job for good, I was heard to utter the uncharacteristic, “gosh, that hurt!!!”
If we choose, even if under extreme circumstances, we can make a difference.
What are you choosing?
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