Anthony On Why It Is Important To Use Inclusive Language When Communicating In His Class Forum. Suggest How He Could Have Avoided His Mistakes, And Offer Three Pointers For How He Can?


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When writing, be careful to avoid language that is exclusive to one group; try to use language that is inclusive, nonsexist, or 'gender neutral'. This is expected in school, businesses and many times in your personal correspondence. It's no longer appropriate to use certain terminology when making certain references particularly since masculine pronouns don't communicate and inclusive sense of 'everyone'. Words like 'mankind', 'men' or 'man', instead of 'humankind' or 'people'. Even using 'he/she' or 'him or her' can be distracting in a document or a letter; consider using the word 'people' instead. Additionally avoid such gender specific titles as 'fireman', 'policeman', 'congressmen', 'stewardess' (as opposed to flight attendant) and 'chairman' (as opposed to chairperson).

Many feel that gender exclusive language creates assumptions, for example, by using terms like 'policeman' you are suggesting that only men can be police officers. You'll want to include all sexes when talking in general terms. By removing gender marking altogether in your language, you can automatically avoid issues of inclusion. Some feel that using gender specific language is a form of sexism that has evolved through the prejudices in our society. We may think that we don't have prejudices, even when we do, for example there's an old riddle that asks, 'a father and his son went fishing, and the boy got hurt and had to be rushed to the ER. The doctor took one look at the boy and said, 'I can't operate on him, he's my son'. How can this be?' Many people when you present this riddle, will puzzle over it for a while, some may eventually get the answer, but many never do. The answer is; the doctor is the child's mother. Because so many people assume that a doctor will be a man, they rarely ever assume that it could be a female.

In your post I would point out a few things specifically. At the top of the list would be that you said 'hey guys'. Are you assuming that every single person in the class is a male? You went on to say, 'I saw this business lady', instead of saying something to the effect of 'the presenter spoke about....' You mentioned that 'all the managers and their wives attended', do you not have any female managers in your company? Even if you don't, it's better to say, 'all of the managers and their spouses attended', so as not to call attention to the fact that your company may utilize sexist hiring or promotion tactics. The same reasoning applies to 'good old boys', it refers to the archaic notion that there are only men at the top. You mentioned that 'the guys at the picnic' were impressed, and that any 'guy' who wanted to advance should brush up on their etiquette. This implies that you only spoke to men at the picnic, or only used etiquette with the men, and that only men could use etiquette training. Women aren't born with etiquette, and everyone could use a brush-up once in a while, especially in the business world. By using inclusive language, you will allow anyone who reads it to be able to feel included in what you are speaking about, make an impact on a wider audience, and avoid making anyone feel minimized or excluded from the post.

It's important to recognize that the language we use reflects how we think, but when we read it, it can also shape how we think. If we use language that excludes a specific sex, then we are marginalizing the other sex by saying that they are not as important, or that they are inferior. Try not to use any language that singles out a persons race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, disability or age. Avoid using terms that imply negative stereotypes or create 'victimization'. Such as 'poor', 'victim', 'courageous' (as opposed to successful), and 'unfortunate'. Remember that gender neutral language is becoming more widely accepted, particularly in the US and Canada. Sometimes this gender neutral language can sound strange, but as it's use is continued it will become more acceptable and commonplace.

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