Well, Gender Me Neutered
by Earnest Prankheimer
Washington State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles has introduced a 474 page bill in the state legislature that would make all language in state laws gender neutral. With the state facing a $1 billion budget shortfall, an idea so singularly boneheaded boggles the mind. Would the Senator start with the word “bill?” To demonstrate the unintended consequences of such colossal stupidity requires that we follow it to its absurd conclusions.
We need to change or replace anything that even hints at gender. The words man and human are all too obvious. And woman has a man in her, so to speak, as does female. Person is no good, containing ‘son.’ How about entity? So long, sonic, mason jars and Stetson hats, and goodbye to songs, sonnets, and sonatas.
Adios adamant, manage, manual, manners, manufacture, manipulate, mandatory, manicure, maneuver, manuscript, and manure. Nothing will be manmade, we’ll hear no music from mandolins, and no one will learn Mandarin Chinese. There will be no no-man’s land Bid farewell to romance and the related performance, semantics will be called “wordy stuff,” and a rivederchi to you folks who reside in Rome. See ya, command, demand, and remand.
Mosey along now, mend, menial, mental, mentor, mendacity, and menthol, to mention but a few. Oh, and the Mennonites. At the restaurant or on your laptop no menu will be forthcoming. Unmentionables will remain unmentionable. A certain Tennessee Williams play will be retitled The Glass Zoo. And terms like menstruate, menopause, and hymen as female conditions has always been just silly. There are many substitutes for semen, and I won’t go into them here. Buh-bye, commend, amend, acumen, and words ending in –ment, like cement, contentment, resentment, sentiment, and entitlement.
All this, and we haven’t even gotten to that other gender. Neither history nor herstory will do, and ourstory is too general, lacking historical context. I nominate pastory, even if it sounds a trifle bucolic. Latino is acceptable for Hispanic, I would think, but antihistamine must go. The Himalayas need a new moniker, too. There will be no more boycotts. Oh, brother. Beat it, brochure, brocade, broad, brook, broccoli (Noooo!), broil, bronze, brood, broken, brown, broth, and brothels (don’t forget eyebrows), and maybe the Bronte sisters.
Let me catch my breath. We can rename the Sistine Chapel, and only crossword freaks know sisal. We’ll “miss” you, missive, missile, mission, missing, misspell and misstep. We can’t have gal, so auf Wiedersehen to gallon, gallery, gala, galaxy, gallant, gallop, galoot, galore, and the gall bladder. Too bad, Galileo and the Sea of Galilee. Via Condios to chicken, chickpea, chickadee and chickweed. You’ll need a new name, Chickasaw Nation (that goes for you too, Menominees).
It’s with her and she that casualties really start adding up. Au revoir, heraldry, herbs, hero and heroine, herd, here, hereditary, hermit, heritage and heresy. There will be no more therapy for those who need it, and I don’t know what we’ll do without thermodynamics. She must be gone. Ciao, ashen, bushel, banshee, shed, sheep, sheaf, shear, sheath, shebang, sheer, shelf, shell, and shenanigans, and I could go on. Jewish people will need to change the holy month of Shebat (oh, and the menorah, too).
Missouri and Mississippi need renaming, to say nothing of Madison, Mendocino, Manhattan and Manchester, San Clemente and Sheboygan. We won’t get into people’s names, either, as we have enough to do. Besides, what could one do with Herman, anyway?
We can’t neglect ‘he,’ either. Hence, we hearken to everything from hemoglobin to hermaphrodite, head, health, hear, heart, heaven, height, hello, hemp, and hex. Help! Herpetologists will go back to being snake handlers, and I never liked Helvetica, anyway. By the way, add Helena and Cheyenne to that list of cities.
I’m afraid it only gets worse from here. We lose the important article adjective, ‘the.’ I guess we could use de, da, or duh! But then there’s theater and theory, and how could we live without theology? Get lost, cheap, cheat, check, cheer, chef, chemistry, cherries, chess and chest. I could continue with behead, behest, pheasant, and phenomena, but we’d be here all day. Where and when will be problematic, as will then and there, they, these, their, and so many more.
Speaking of chemistry, we’ll need to make some changes in the Periodic Table of Basic Substances (well, we can’t use Elements, can we?): bromine, gallium, helium, mendelevium, manganese, and rhenium need alterations.
Look on the bright side. We’ll be well rid of rhetoric, dementia, heroin, herpes, rheumatism, histrionics, ghettos, meningitis, red herrings and maniacs. No one uses penmanship anymore, anyway, having keyboards. And I always thought malevolence sounded like male violence (which it usually is). I’m just concerned that once we’ve put the language through a wood chipper and half our vocabulary has been reduced to sawdust, we’ll have constructed a Tower of Babble. An innocent statement like “When she was a freshman, she heard Man of La Mancha” will become “During the time the first year student in a skirt was in school, the music from Wannabe Knight From Central Spain was listened to.”
I can’t wait to see which gender neutral terms they’ll use for masculine and feminine (not to mention penis and vagina).
We’ll still have LOL, IMHO, and all that nonsense, of course. I think that bringing back a classic will be more appropriate to the occasion, though — FUBAR.