CA city votes to use gender-neutral terms in local government

The Berkeley California City Council passed an ordinance which could see terms such as ‘he’ and ‘she’ removed from local government and replaced by ‘they’ and ‘them’.

The piece of legislation, which was passed unanimously at the first reading, would also see terms such as ‘manhole’ and ‘pregnant woman’ become ‘maintenance hole’ and ‘pregnant employee’.

Here are the changes Berkeley City Council wants to make:

Read all about it.

Thanks, Janet


31 thoughts on “CA city votes to use gender-neutral terms in local government”

  1. Who could see anything wrong with this list of sensible changes? Seriously, folks, if you are so hidebound that you can’t see that having inclusive language is more equitable and accurate, then let’s just instead change all the terms that end in -man to henceforth be ended with -woman. Hey, it doesn’t matter, right? So any male fire fighter should be fine with being called a firewoman. Seriously — time to come into the 21st century.

  2. And, Scott — please look up what a pronoun is. “Male pronouns” are he, him, and his. Please show me where those pronouns appear in women, woman, or female. It’s always hysterical when someone tries to look smarter and end up looking completely ignorant.

  3. Well, this must mean that the Berkeley City Council must have all the more serious problems solved. Yeah, right….

  4. For some people, this is torture on their lives. Why? I have no fuckin’ idea. They just need to be angry at things that don’t have any effect on their lives.

  5. Scott, the fact remains that there are no male pronouns in the words women, woman, and female, so please have the grace to admit your error. Secondly, I’d suggest you use better sources as citations than pop culture websites that don’t cite any legitimate academic sources for their claims.. Do you notice that nowhere does the article cite a single example of a female person being referred to as a man? That’s because it didn’t happen. “Man” is used as the term to include all people ONLY in a mixed-gender group — if a group was of all women, the term was not used. The same rule applies in modern Romance languages. What you’re seeing is the result of a society that was, at the time, run by men who were insistent that women were their inferiors. Now, I do suggest you stop. You’re just digging yourself in further by doubling down.

  6. Jonco, as you should know, the quote was supposed to be That’s One Small Step for A Man, not just man. But what did the fact that the person doing this thing had a penis? In a less sexist, more-inclusive time, he could have said, That’s one small step for a human being — a giant leap for all humankind.

  7. Houston, we have a problem – the city of Berkeley was actually named after a man, George Berkeley. Where will they draw the line on this stupidity?

  8. Want to use “personhole” instead of “manhole”? Knock yourself out. It’s compelling the speech of others and trying to shame people into using “their” language that I find not only reprehensible, but downright dangerous. What will we be compelled to do next in the name of equality (or justice or morality or whatever vague term you want to use.) This PC culture is the left version of the Religious Right. How about you just leave everyone else alone and live your life.

    • The old language was just as compelled and shamed women into using language they found reprehensible. What you call “PC” is only about showing other people some degree of respect and decency. You can still live your life, none of this has any effect on you unless you particularly like feeling superior to people who aren’t like you in every way.

  9. Will the same crackpots begin renaming animals too? Lion / Lioness becomes what?
    Female ducks are called ducks, male ducks are called drakes. Collectively, and inclusively, they’re called ducks. Shouldn’t this same group be defending the rights of drakes in this clear case of language-based oppression?
    They’re going to have fun trying to monitor and enforce gender equality in the workplace. They won’t be able to count the number of male / female employees because that would be using non-gendered terms, a clear violation of their ordnance and, apparently, a meaningless notion. It did make me chuckle that one of the active campaigners in that article said, “Gender-neutral language creates a lot of room to acknowledge that it’s not just men running the country.” Who’s running the country? I don’t recognise that word you used, “men”. Please re-phrase it in a non-gendered language.
    How are the social services going to handle vulnerable young boys and girls that are taken into care? It’ll just be a non-gender specific child who has experienced a traumatic experience with a non-gender specific parent, so we’ll assign a non-gender specific case worker / therapist and hope for the best.

  10. Folks, I’m not sure what caves you’ve been living in but these changes in language have been happening for some 40 years. That’s why we have had flight attendants and not “stewardesses” for decades. Non-inclusive language is left over from the bad old days when women were forbidden from being educated and/or holding any position of responsibility, respect or power in this country. The big question is why are you so invested in keeping that old, outdated form of language?

  11. Good for Berkeley. So many backwards-ass people commenting on this. Seriously, a city government actually trying to do right by its citizens to make sure that its code and official documents include people of all genders. Why is this controversial?

    How is this even a bad thing in any of your eyes? I’m legitimately flabbergasted at why anyone would think this is bad. It literally impacts you in no way whatsoever, unless you find yourself in Berkeley California, where it can only be a positive change.

    You can still call a manhole in Berkeley a manhole if you want. Nobody will bat an eye. But they’re making it clear in their local ordinances that if they write “salesman” there isn’t some hidden loophole for a woman in the sales profession to somehow skirt the law (pun intended) because the rule doesn’t technically include women…

    Go get your jimmies rustled over real issues. This isn’t about “politcal correctness” it’s about making the city ordinances and city code include all of its citizens. Yes, some of these changes are silly, but that’s just because they’re being complete and comprehensive … they have to draw the line somewhere, so they’re changing everything that isn’t inclusive to make sure it is.

    • You ask, “Why is this controversial?” Consider this scenario…

      In a “perfect” world where everyone is required to use non-gendered language, the managing directors of a large firm consist entirely of men. As it happens they are entirely sexist and have little respect for women. Year on year, only men are promoted to the best jobs. Women at the firm lodge a complaint to an equality commission. When the directors are challenged they are quite surprised and confused because it is no longer considered proper to use gender based terms. However, for the sake of “doing the right thing” they are willing to forego their legal right to maintain a gender neutral designation. One-by-one each of them admit that they identify as females. They are pleased that this imbalance has been brought to their attention and explain that, if the equality commission approves, they will be actively seeking to promote workers who strongly identify as males in future.

      The point being, the price we pay for the removal of gender based language and designations is the loss of gender equality. It would completely undermine and disarm those who fight for the rights of women, or men in the rarer cases that the imbalance falls the other way.

      I am a firm supporter of equality and I believe that inclusivity is important, but this is not a step in the right direction. By all means, introduce new terms for those that require them, but the removal of terms that have clear meaning to most people in society for the sake of the few is not a solution. Better education is the key.

      • I think you’re arguing a different point from what is occurring in Berkeley.

        This is a city government updating existing language in city code to be more gender-inclusive.

        This has nothing to do with “requiring non-gendered language” within the city. This has nothing to do with gender parity in different roles, or some sort of affirmative action for promoting women (or “women” or “people who identify as women”) into leadership positions.

        Fears that any effort to improve equality will somehow bring rise to a Political Correctness Dystopia, where all males are emasculated and anyone who mentions gender will be forced into social exile … that’s unreasonable and irrational. A step in the right direction does not bring about the end of society as we know it. Sure there are some idiots on various media sites who do more harm than good for their cause, because they do indeed want the world to conform to their hyper-politically-correct worldview of genderless, sexless, raceless, uniquenessless … but the reality isn’t nearly as grim as people on either side make it to be.

        I think the goal is to just move the world a little closer to including people who were previously marginalized and excluded. That’s not a bad thing.


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