“Inclusive Language”: The Newspeak Of The 21st Century

By Nat Price

If you are a student enrolled at Murdoch, you have almost certainly encountered the university’s policy on “inclusive language”. You are doubtlessly aware that words such as “mankind”, “chairman”, and “foreman”, are frowned upon. Instead they expect us to use “humankind”, “chairperson”, and “foreperson”, lest we face their wrath over this thoughtcrime.

If you are one who has raised any complaints about the Ministry of Truth, you have no doubt encountered the same recycled arguments used to defend this newspeak. Chief among these is something to the effect of:

“It’s just a few words, why do you care so much?”

Now, I accept this wholeheartedly. It is just a few words and, despite what some may argue, it is easy to change. However, let’s establish that this argument can be turned around on those who make it; it’s just a few words, why do you care so much?

There is a much more fundamental flaw with this argument though: it’s missing the point entirely. The problem is not with the words themselves. The problem is with the principle behind them.

This move towards “inclusive language” is part of recent trend I’ve noticed rearing its ugly head on the political spectrum’s left wing. This is a trend we have seen with the laughable movement against “mansplaining” and with the recent “change the date” campaign. It is a trend where people on the left, realising they are fast running out of legitimate issues with Western society, begin to invent issues where none exist. It all stems from the principle of: “I am offended, therefore you must all cater to me”.

This principle has allowed context and intent to be stripped away. We have been consistently reminded that using the word “chairman” suggests that we think all “chairpeople” should be male, but this is simply not true. In a modern context, “chairman” can be gender-neutral. Indeed if I were to use it, it would be a gender-neutral term.

However, my intent and my personal context does not matter at all to them. Regardless of what I meant by the word, I am “reinforcing sexist attitudes”. I am the perpetually-offended thought police’s next target in their campaign to smash sexism, even where none exists. 

I think the word “snowflake” has become obnoxious as of late, but I honestly can’t think of any better word for these people. If you fall into this camp, I can make three recommendations to you:

-     Firstly, recognise that these words you hate so much can be gender-neutral, and that people who use them aren’t automatically sexist.

-     Secondly, encourage “inclusive language” all you want, but don’t demand others must use it, and don’t punish them for refusing to do so.

-     Finally, stop going out of your way to look for a fight. Stop creating issues where there are none. As the old adage goes: “toughen up princess”.

METIOR EditorComment