Seeing numerous crisis, from the rise of nationalist eurosceptic parties to hordes of millions of migrants coming to Europe’s doorstep the EU decides to tackle the real issue: gender neutral language.
Guidebooks have been sent to both officials and members of the European Parliament in how to properly address the issue of ‘inclusive language’ in all official languages of the European Parliament. The guidelines, which can be read by anyone here, come after the 10 year anniversary of the original guidelines of 2008, and ‘in order to reflect linguistic and cultural developments, the High-Level Group on Gender Equality and Diversity requested Parliament’s services to update the gender-neutral language guidelines’.
The document urges to ‘avoid the generic use of ‘man’ and its derivatives’ and for alternatives suggests the following examples:
humanity (for mankind), staff (for manpower), a French person (for Frenchman)/the French or French people (for Frenchmen), synthetic or artificial (for man-made), advisory panel (for committee of wise men), political leaders (for statesmen).
Besides suggesting completely erasing the words ‘man’ or ‘woman’ from existence, the guidelines also suggest many other sensitive rules in conformity with 3rd wave feminists such as ‘avoiding combined forms such as ‘he/she’, ‘him/her’, avoiding alternating masculine and feminine forms an even the use gender-neutral job titles such as ‘chair’ instead of chairman. It also states that, English, unlike French and Spanish, for example, lacks a body which sets linguistic norms to be applied and gender-neutral language is easier to apply, one of the reasons why its use is recommended.
The guideline also insisted that ‘Gender-neutral or gender-inclusive language is more than a matter of political correctness’ and that ‘language powerfully reflects and influences attitudes, behaviour and perceptions.’
Reading the whole document however it resembles more the language ‘Newspeak’ from Orwell’s 1984 novel, where an authoritarian elite changed language as a way of shaping thought and opinion in a highly coercive society.