Scrubbing Our History: Washington State Outlaws Sexist Language

July 8, 2013


political-correctness-downfall-of-american-societyWhile America was off celebrating what’s left of the freedom that is found in the United States, Washington State legislators were off striking a blow against our history. Legislators passed a bill that they believe magically gets rid of “sexist” language.

The feminist studies students cum lawmakers took a page from the political sisterhood and, like Oregon before it, tried to excise language that women deem sexist. Oregon’s effort failed last time around, but no doubt the Washington State legislators have emboldened them to get rid of such scurrilous words as, 

“Fisherman” is now a “fisher.” “Penmanship” is called “handwriting.” And “manhole cover” is, well, still “manhole cover.” Some words don’t have an easy replacement.

Others do: “His” is now “his and hers.” “Clergyman” is now “clergy.” “Journeyman plumber” is now “journey-level plumber,” according to the Daily Mail.

Show of hands: How many of you didn’t realize that journeyman referred to both men and women? Fisherman? 

In total, 40,000 words have been changed as part of an effort to rid state statutes of gender-biased language.

By scrubbing our language of this supposedly insulting language based on men and not (as they called it when I was in University) womyn, we deprive our culture of a historical reference point, markers to demonstrate how far we’ve come. When we scrub the language, we attempt to scratch out touchstones of where we were at certain points in time. I think it’s a shame that we scrub our language of these references. 

“Words matter,” Liz Watson, a National Women’s Law Center senior adviser, told Reuters. “This is important in changing hearts and minds.”

The “Womyn” in the legislature who think they’re re-writing a wrong, are simply trying to scrub men out of our lives and historicity. 

‘There’s no good reason for keeping our legal terms anachronistic and with words that do not respect our current contemporary times,’ [Jeanne] Kohl-Welles, the 475-page bill’s sponsor, told Reuters.

We saw what you did there, Washington State legislators.