Mankind to be wiped out by language police
TO THE man on the street, the man on the street has never been much of a problem.
But the language police of Scotland's largest council have decreed otherwise. The man on the street and the girls in the office are now officially wrong.
Glasgow city councillors of a less politically correct ilk are scratching their heads. Dr Chris Mason, a Lib Dem member, declared: "Politeness, courtesy and respect - all these things are important. But a book of rules about what you can and cannot say? B*******."
But Glasgow City Council, whose senior figures include Lady Provost Liz Cameron and leisure director and First Minister's wife Bridget McConnell, is clear about the problem of oppressed women in its ranks.
The issue is laid out in "Language Matters: A Guide for Good Practice", which has been circulated to the council's staff and elected officials.
"Sexism continues to disadvantage women both as service users and employees. The use of sexist language, whether spoken or written, reinforces this discrimination," it declares. All staff, it orders, should now stop their sexist ways.
The guide offers a full list of the most shameful examples of sexist-speak. Top of the list are endearments.
"Don't assume it is acceptable to address women by endearments such as 'dear', 'pet' and 'love' when you would not address men in such a way," the guide instructs. "Don't refer to women as 'girls', for example, 'the girls in the office'."
It adds: "The term 'ladies' should only be used in situations where the parallel term 'gentlemen' is used."
All references to a person's gender should be avoided, the guide goes on. "A person's gender is rarely relevant to the job they do, so don't use 'lady' or 'woman' to highlight gender inappropriately, for example 'woman driver', 'lady curator', 'lady councillor', 'woman director'. Similarly don't add 'ess' to the end of job titles as in 'manageress' or 'stewardess'."
"Some words and phrases such as 'manpower' and 'man the office' exclude or ignore women. Use inclusive terms like 'staff' and 'workers' and 'staff the office'."
With communication dealt with, the guide moves on to terms of address. The old custom of referring to a married couple as Mr and Mrs John Smith is completely barred, the guide declares. "Women have names too!" it exclaims.
Equally, the requirement for women to reveal their marital status through the term 'Mrs' or 'Miss' is condemned. "If the woman does not offer her preferred title, assume Ms", the guide instructs.
The suffix 'man' is completely out. Job titles like storeman and clerkess should be replaced with 'storeperson' and 'clerical officer'.
And then there is the man on the street. "The word 'man' is often used as a general term when it is actually intended to mean 'people'. 'Human beings' or the 'human race' is preferable to 'mankind' and the 'ordinary person' replaces the 'man in the street'."
Despite the aim of lifting women out of the pit of prejudice, some were not impressed.
Entrepreneur Michelle Mone said: "Councils and government are making it impossible to run businesses and then they come out with nonsense like this.
These people with their sandals and their flowery dresses - they need to get a life and stop wasting people's time. If someone doesn't like being called 'love' in a workforce then the door is open. Go and work somewhere else."
Richard Cook, director of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, added: "Now that this document is in print as a guide to staff it could be used by more zealous managers looking for an excuse to discipline employees."
However, Elaine Smith, who sits on Holyrood's equal opportunities committee, said: "People should think more about the kind of language that they use. If Glasgow is raising awareness and it stops women being demeaned at their work, then that is a good thing."
A council spokesman said any male in the council who was caught saying words like 'mankind' or 'stewardess' - or worse, 'Mrs' - would not be punished. "This is a relatively mild reminder that council staff should think about what they say so as not to inadvertently cause offence. It is not a prohibition on types of speech."
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