Soramichi's blog

Some seek complex solutions to simple problems; it is better to find simple solutions to complex problems

City of Berkeley will use gender neutral languages

According to an article in San Fransisco Chronicle, the city of Berkeley, CA, USA, will "replace gendered language in the city’s municipal code with neutral terms" as "an effort to be more inclusive". The article provides a link to what seems like the official document of the city, where the new municipal code with the edit history begins from page 4.

This is truly a big step for real inclusion, because they do not say anything like that they will include both men and women, but they say they will go "gender neutral". From page 6 of the document, the list of words / phrases to be placed and how to place them are shown, among which there are a couple of outstanding ones:

  • "Fireman", "Firewoman", "Foremen" and "Firewomen" to be replaced by "Firefighter" or "Firefighters"
  • "Male and female" to be replaced by "People of different genders"
  • "Men and women" to be replaced by "People"
  • "The masculine pronoun includes the feminine" to be replaced by "“Words referring to a specific gender may be extended to any other gender"

These policies prove that they really try to be neutral, with non-majority people truly taken into account.

In contrast, in many so-called "equality" or "diversity" acts, they assume that there are only "he" and "she", or "male" and "female", and the association between biological sex and cultural gender is always the same as what they assume.

This is not only wrong and doesn't help minority people, but it also sometimes amplifies existing discrimination. For example, many people believe that adding a women into a men-only team (or the other way around, adding a man into a women-only team) is THE best thing for diversity. However, this relies on an assumption that the added woman (or man) has different way of thinking than the existing members, which stems from another assumption that the existing men (or women) have similar ways of thinking just because they have same biological sex. This is nothing but discrimination!

Another example might be these "women in XX" or "XX for girls" events, where the organizers often associate the biological sex of the participants and cultural biases generated by discrimination. For example they often say like "different way of thinking that women have", or they use pink color which they never use in any of their other events. Although these things might comfortably be accepted by "normal" people who were born as women and are happy to be "female", they are perfect discrimination which never achieve true inclusion (please carefully note, that I'm not saying that supporting discriminated people is bad, but what I'm saying is that these "supports" sometimes amplify discrimination if they are not well-considered).

"Inclusion" should be "we don't care whoever you are or whatever way of thinking / characteristics you have", but should not be "we only accept those who we are comfortable with".

Anyway, the step taken by the city of Berkeley is a very big deal, and I hope other cities, states, and countries will follow it soon.