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 The word ‘man’, a vestige of a patriarchal system, has been replaced by the neutral word ‘person’.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 ?
THE SEQUEL TO EQUAL
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 should become the buzz word of the 21st century. Unisex happiness everywhere. Freedom from gender oppression will at last be won!
© Irina Dimitric 2016