United Kingdom

Issue of the day: Is the word “mother” biased?

SOLDIERS and students are being warned against using terms such as “lads”, “gents”, “mankind” and “mother” in new inclusivity rules branded “woke” by critics. 

What’s the problem with “lads?”

British soldiers serving in 22 Engineer Regiment have been issued a warning against using terminology such as “lads”, “men” and “gents” in a new set of orders detailing what is expected of soldiers in online meetings.

 

Why?

The terms are said to be incompatible with the British military’s diversity and inclusion – “D and I” – protocols. Troops have also been reminded of the values and standards – “V and S” – they are expected to uphold, according to a report in the Daily Mail.

 

It’s other phrases too?

Words such as “mankind” and “sportsmanship” are also said to have been banned as the Armed Forces attempts to remodel itself as gender-neutral, with the regiment’s sergeant major telling recruits: “There has been a drop in V and S over the last few weeks. Saluting/bracing up [coming to attention]… make sure people are getting paid the correct compliments… All are to remember D and I – “gents”, “men”, “lads” and other phrases are not to be used.”

 

The revelation sparked outrage?

In some quarters, yes. Former Good Morning Britain host, Piers Morgan, was furious, tweeting: “Anyone that easily offended should not be in the British Army.”

 

However?

One Twitter user said: “Think [of it] from a women’s view of being the sole female in a meeting. If the commanding officer is using ‘C’mon lads’ this, ‘Well done, lads’ that, it is easy to feel excluded. Overall the laddish culture is something lads should be encouraged to grow out of by the time they join the Army.”

 

Meanwhile, in Manchester?

It emerged in March that the University of Manchester has updated its “Guide to inclusive language”, said to “embrace and celebrate our diverse community of staff and students”, which aims to tell those working at the university “how to use inclusive language to avoid biases, slang or expressions that can exclude certain groups”.

 

And…?

Its advice suggests not bringing up age unless it is strictly relevant, so words such as “elderly”, “OAPs”, “pensioners”, “youngsters” and “mature workforce” are to be replaced by “over-65s” and “over-75s” and so on. Referring to illness or disability, the word “diabetic” is not advised, with staff instead encouraged to use language that focuses on people’s “abilities, rather than limitations”.

 

And you ought not to say “mother”?

The guide suggests that from now on, gender-neutral terms are used. It advises using “People/person or individual(s), rather than man/men or woman/women”, “Parent or guardian, rather than mother or father”, “Workforce, not manpower” and to say “humankind, not mankind”.

 

Critics are not amused?

Toby Young, general secretary of the Free Speech Union, told the BBC that the university has “wasted time and money” teaching staff how to “speak woke-ish”.

 

 



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