Is outlawing words such as ‘mankind’ or ‘chairman’ in the European Parliament a step forward or too far?

In recent years society has made huge leaps forwards in equality among many different groups of people. Gender inclusivity has been a very sensitive topic with the European parliament recently releasing gender-neutral language guidelines, claiming words such as ‘mankind’ and ‘chairman’ are too exclusive and should be altered. Is this a step too far?

In 2008 the European Parliament was one of the first international organisations to create multilingual guidelines regarding gender neutral language. Many organisations have since followed suit.

On the tenth anniversary since the creation of these guidelines the gender-neutral language guidelines have been updated in response to linguistic and cultural changes. Words such as ‘mankind’ and ‘chairman’ have been labelled as exclusive language which should be changed in official documentation and spoken communication to more gender inclusive terms such has ‘humanity’ and ‘chairperson’.

Is this a step in the right direction? Or are there more important issues the European Parliament should be trying to address?

Guy, 21, Student

I think it’s ridiculous. It is absolutely appalling. You can’t go around and just arbitrarily outlaw words because it has something like man in them. The Government should have no sort of power or authority to censor people’s language.  when you start getting angry about stupid little things like this that as you can tell really irritates me. There are a lot of bigger problems out there than words.

Isaac, 21, Student

Well first I mean a word is a word you can’t just change the meaning. We just shouldn’t get worked up about it, we should just calm down you know, look at it in a rational way. There are bigger problems out there. I guess for me it is just be rational calm down a bit you don’t have to be so worked up about it.

Leah, 39, Project Manager

I think it’s a step in the right direction honestly. Better to include everyone 100%. I do I think it’s absolutely a step in the right direction. I think we could do a lot more in terms of equality.

Paula, 49, Translator

I think it’s a good idea. Where I come from there is a lot of this kind of movement. Trying to improve things and create new laws. So, it’s something that is becoming really difficult to fight against. So, I think it is strange but on the other hand I think that it will happen. Of course, there are things that should be discussed and but I think that it’s difficult to try to stop this kind of thing.

Carsten, 56, Senior Lecturer

It’s a delicate issue I think there are slightly more important things to think about. Chairperson I can live with because it’s a bit funny because the chairman is obviously female. By the same it’s a name of office. Like with all things just don’t get too religious about it. Because real issues are in people’s minds and to be honest, I’d rather have them speaking outright and speaking what they think than hiding it behind the right words. You can be politically correct with your language but not your actions. And if the people who are still biased or sexist use the right language, I’d rather have them being sexist and then id know what to feel. I know what to do with them and you can tackle it head on.