The Power of Words

WE ARE ALL EQUAL (written in 2011)

For this week’s challenge: write a personal essay, I was going to write about one of my departed dogs or cats, but I got quite emotional as soon as I started thinking about them. So my essay is about new trends in the choice of words in our ever-changing society, and particularly about three words I feel strongly about.

The Australian Labour Party has just voted in favour of same sex marriage. Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, put it to a conscience vote. This has got me thinking: the trend in our society, namely equalisation, has brought about many changes. Ever since the Anti Discrimination Act of 1984, Australians have become wary of committing an offence that could see them pay a hefty fine or serve a jail sentence. Racial and sexual discrimination went out the window, and rightly so. Gone were the days of ‘wogs’, ‘dagos’, abos’ and so on. Out went ‘Mrs’, in came ‘Ms’ – a woman’s status stopped being defined by her ‘Mr”. If she was married, she could choose ‘Mrs’ or ‘Ms’, if unmarried ‘Miss’ or ‘Ms’.

So, if you choose ‘Ms’, you are a person in your own right. Now, the word ‘person’ brings me to my observation that the tendency today is to equalise. Equal pay for equal work, there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m all for it. But this equalisation, however, is sometimes oddly reflected in the language. The word ‘man’, a vestige of a patriarchal system, has been replaced by the neutral word ‘person’. So now we have a ‘chairperson‘ chairing a meeting, and in direct address we use ‘Mr Chairman’ and ‘Madam Chair’. It would seem odd to say ‘Ms Chairwoman’, it sounds too much like ‘charwoman’. It would also be ridiculous to call a’manhole‘ a ‘personhole’ or a ‘humanhole’, ‘ human‘ having replaced the generic ‘man’.

This equalisation is equally ridiculous when an established word used to denote a person of female gender is replaced by a word denoting a person of male gender. It just makes no sense. If we are getting rid of the generic ‘man’ wherever possible, why are female thespians suddenly called ‘actors’? This smacks of the notion that the status of the female thespian is somehow raised by adopting the word which applies to her male counterparts. Very demeaning and discriminatory into the bargain! And it does not follow the idea that one must choose ‘person’, which is neutral, instead of ‘man’, which is sexist and abhorrent. You will argue that ‘doctor’ and director’ apply to both sexes, so by analogy and according to the equalising trend ‘actor’ for an ‘actress’ is not only OK , but a MUST. But why do away with a word that tells me immediately whether the thespian in question is a male or female? The word ‘actor’ for an actress shall never pass my lips. I like the word ‘actress’ – it conjures up the image of a lovable and brave ‘lioness’ or ‘ tigress ‘.

To come back to same sex marriage. Lesbians and gays – that is outright discriminatory. If, in the present climate of political correctness regarding sexism, all thespians, whether male or female, are now ’actors’, then gays and lesbians should get a common denominator. I suggest: ‘gaybians’. Shall we put it to the vote of conscience? By the way, I do not like the way homosexuals have usurped the word ‘gay’ without consulting heterosexuals. I’m definitely voting for ‘gaybians’. What about you ?


As you can see I wrote the above observations almost five years ago. My proposal has never been considered, let alone adopted. Had someone with clout seen some merit in my proposal, today the LGBTIQ community would have one letter less to contend with, because, let’s face it, it is a mouthful.
So GBTIQ: Gaybians, Bisexuals, Transgenders, Intersex, Queers. Ah, but I hear the LGBT community screaming their heads off, they’ve got nothing to do with Queers, they do not consider themselves queer but run-of-the mill humans like the commonplace heterosexuals. OK, let’s leave the Queers alone, they like being identified as Queer. But what about another name for LGBTI people? What about Gender Diverse community or GD? Fewer initials! Or Gender Splendour – GS?

To heck with gender! Who needs gender anyway? Gender just complicates everyone’s life and is the main cause of overpopulation and consequent climate change. It stands to reason that if we want to save our planet, unisex is the way forward. Unisex toilets, for instance, also called gender-neutral bathrooms. In Australia the Safe Schools Program, devised by the finest thinkers of our great land, is right on the money when advocating unisex toilets and discouraging the use of discriminatory words like ‘boy’ or ‘girl’. The time has come to abolish all kinds of sex discrimination and where better to start but at the basics? Let’s build a better future with unisex school uniforms Mao style and unisex toilets. Misogyny and homophobia extinguished with one word – Unisex.

Unisex Toilet Sign

Unisex should become the buzz word of the 21st century. Unisex happiness everywhere. Freedom from gender oppression will at last be won!

© Irina Dimitric 2016

About irinadim

Kookaburra sweet, you neither chirp nor tweet. Your laughter is much like mine, my cackle is much like thine. We are two sister souls, one clad in feathers, the other in clothes. ~ Irina ~ I’m a budding blogger. Poetry and photography are my newest passions, living in perfect harmony inspiring each other. I like both free verse and form poetry and am quite proud to let you know that I am the creator of a new form named ‘tercetonine’. Blog Name: Irina's Poetry Corner Blog URL:
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19 Responses to The Power of Words

  1. Susan Budig says:

    You sure didn’t shy away from a controversial and timely topic.

    • irinadim says:

      I was having a lot of fun writing this piece, Susan. It’s sure a changing world. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Much appreciated.

  2. milliethom says:

    What a packed and thought-provoking post, Irina. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and loved the way your thoughts flowed from one thing to the next, so well put together with no obvious seams. The subjects of equality and political correctness are still huge in many countries of the world – as they were in 2011. Your title sums it all up, I think. Great post!

    • irinadim says:

      Oh what a beautiful comment, Millie! You made my day. To get such a lovely appraisal from a writer of your calibre means a world to me. Thank you so much. I was having a lot of fun writing it, so I’m very happy you enjoyed reading it. If it’s OK with you, I’d like to include it in the comments on Facebook with reference to your Facebook Page. Have a nice day! Cheers 🙂

  3. irinadim says:

    I managed to access your FB page and invited some of my friends to LIKE your page. 🙂

  4. I think “unisex happiness” should be a trend – let’s start it!!

  5. cherylfoston says:

    Great piece Irina! I am very impressed by your cleverness. 🙂 You are truly a wordsmith.:) I am especially impressed with the way you wrote the entire piece with such thought and without offending anyone (at least I don’t think it should have). Great job!

    • irinadim says:

      Thank you, thank you, for your equally great comment, Cheryl. I do need encouragement, and when I get a positive comment, I feel invigorated to continue writing. I’m glad you didn’t find my observations offensive as this was not my aim at all, although in this present highly “political correct” climate some people might object to my having fun at the expense of sensitive issues. Have a nice day! 🙂

  6. Yana says:

    OMG! I always knew you were smart, but to have such a very clever friend is a real honour! Congratulations, Irina, what a well thought out and fabulously written post – your way with words was amazing.

  7. Pingback: Same- Sex Marriage and Marriage Equality | Irina's Poetry Corner

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