Created 75 years ago this October, the United Nations was hailed as “the last, best hope for peace,” a moniker that proved neither true nor possible (though, as I once heard a former Israeli special forces guy put it, “no one ‘monitors’ better”). A recent tweet reveals how the organization’s goal has been expanded to include the ever-elusive “equality.”
“Help create a more equal world,” said the Tweet, “by using gender-neutral language, if you’re unsure about someone’s gender or are referring to a group.” As part of the “System-Wide Strategy on Gender Parity,” UN employees are being encouraged to speak and write in ways “that [do] not discriminate against a particular sex, social gender or gender identity.”
Of course, some of the strategy suggestions, such as using “humanity” instead of “mankind” or “police officer” instead of “policeman,” are fine. Others are bit more difficult to understand, such as substituting “representative” for “businessman,” as if those words mean the same thing. And then, there are those suggestions that can only be called linguistic nonsense, attempts at retrofitting established languages to an imaginary, genderless world.
Many European languages, such as Spanish and French, are very “gendered.” Every noun is either male, such as “book” or “hat,” or female, such as “table” or “coronavirus.” All previous attempts, especially in France, to de-gender these languages have gone nowhere – not with everyday speakers nor official language-guardians. As one wag put it, attempts to de-gender the language of love “make it look like algebra.”
In the midst of a global pandemic that has killed a few hundred thousand people, unleashed a global recession, and will likely exacerbate food shortages and political instability around the world, one might wonder how this became a United Nations priority.
Well, the secular impulse to recreate the world, and the power of language to do just that, is strong. Those pushing for “gender-neutral” language aren’t as concerned with linguistic sense or what now-dead folks like Victor Hugo thought about life and the world, as they are with ridding the world of gender differentiation.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera