University Language Guide: Don’t Say “Man”; Say “Person” or “Individual”

People are so easily offended these days by anything that hints of masculinity. Universities want to change our language by taking out gender-specific nouns and pronouns and other words with “man” in them. They say that the fact that we have so many male-specific words is a testament to our previously male-dominated society. Now that we have a more gender-equal society, we need to remove instances of gender specificity.

As a language guide at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill stated:

“English has changed since the Declaration of Independence was written. Most readers no longer understand the word “man” to be synonymous with “person,” so clear communication requires writers to be more precise. And using gender-neutral language has become standard practice in both journalistic and academic writing, as you’ll see if you consult the style manuals for different academic disciplines.

By “more precise,” they actually mean more vague. Here’s an excerpt from the language guide:



So, instead of “man,” we should say “person.” But that’s not actually any better. “Son” is masculine. Wouldn’t that be considered problematic?

And “first-year student” isn’t any better than “freshman.” Stu, as in the bassist for Creedence Clearwater Revival, is a guy’s name.

Or, look at their alternatives for “mankind.” Both “human” and “humanity” have the evil word “man” in them. “Man” is the very center of “humanity.” Instead of “human,” perhaps they could have suggested “huperson.” But, as I mentioned before, “person” has “son” in it, which is masculine. A solution could be to change “person” to “perdaughter.” Then, the word “human” would become “huperdaughter.”

We’re not done though. The prefix “hu-“ sounds too much like the name Hugh, which as we know is a man’s name. We need a gender-neutral name to put in place of “hu-.” How about Sloan? Now, the word becomes “sloanperdaughter.”

While “daughter” is better than “son” because women are more equal than men, it’s still too gender-specific. How about “child?” Sloanperchild.

But “child” sounds too tender. You know how they say instead of using the term “father,” we’re supposed to use “biological donor?” So, we need something colder and more detached than “child.” “Offspring” fits better. Now, our word becomes sloanperoffspring.

I’m sure you can come up with other alternatives as well.