Our world is becoming inclusive and gender sensitivity is at a new high. Isn't it time then for words to step forward and embrace this kind of change that is sweeping us all? Or for us all to get together and give a few of these wicked words a new world? A recent article that I read announced that the US Marine Corps and Navy intend to change job-titles to transform them into gender-neutral words.
It is easy enough to start calling a fireman a fire-fighter and a policeman a police officer but when I referred to the dictionary, I found that there is a long list of words just waiting to be stripped of "man" as a prefix or a suffix. However, what bothered me most was the word woman.
I remember seeing a lot of English movies where some imperious man thunders, "Woman!" and adds something like, "Stay where you are!" or "Do as I say!"
"Why must a woman spend her life with 'man' overwhelming her existence?" I said to myself. "It is time for this word to take a back seat, get frozen, step into a coffin, lock itself up in a dictionary of past slang or whatever else one does to words when they cease to infuse us with the joy that relationships are supposed to."
Yes, it is time for manager and management to take a sabbatical. Mandate and manoeuvrability are no longer what only men do. Many (oops! Did you notice the way many is spelled?) words deserve a total transformation. The mantra (oh my god! This is going to be terrible for writers and saints alike) too has man irrevocably taking charge of all the subliminal power that the word evokes... as do mandala and manpower! I suddenly felt that it isn't mortals but immortality-seeking words that have been creating all this misunderstanding between the two sexes. So it is time to wield the axe, be firm, and let them all fade away to give us increased peace of mind and harmony.
Writing so many man-words does evoke a lot of different emotions as did another smaller list that I had written and presumably gave me enough reasons to sigh in relief. Mania, manipulate, mannerless, and manslaughter were at the top of this new list and I murmured, "I'm sure men are going to thank me for starting a jihad to get all these words decapitated. I mean, why associate all these angry, obviously vicious words with men? Yes, go ahead and let them too go where the other more relaxed and harmless man-words are destined to go to.
Let me come back to the word "woman" now. I remember seeing a lot of English movies where some or the other imperious looking man thunders, "Woman!" and adds something like, "Stay where you are!" or "Follow me!" or "Do as I say!" From my early formative years I began to associate the word uttered in this tone as almost akin to the way one shouts, "Bitch!" or "Don't move, you rascal!" or "Scum!" This happens in Hindi movies as well but we fortunately do not have this issue with man oozing in everywhere. In simple words, the English language needs to literally ejaculate man from a lot of words.
[Maybe we can] magnanimously allow words to keep their original form and change attitudes instead.
Ah! Coming back to derogatory way "woman" has been pronounced by actors all over the world, it is time for women to help us all find a worthy alternative. Joseph Conrad in Chance wrote, "Being a woman is a terribly difficult trade since it consists principally of dealings with men." I suspect that even he was bothered by man in woman but ended up giving this anomaly a philosophic interpretation. He must have worked hard to make this obnoxious connotation acceptable, I'm sure.
My issue with man getting prefixed or suffixed to an arrangement of alphabets to form words that make me restless isn't yet over. Look at manicure and tell me if it doesn't evoke the image of an effeminate man? Why must the king of fruits behave like a chauvinist and call itself mango? And anyway, where does someone want man to go? These words have been troubling me for a long time now and it isn't just words like deliveryman and adman that need to be changed to something more acceptable but also languages like Mandarin, and nationalities like Roman that need to embrace this change finally.
I have nothing against girls but call them a female or lady and I'll want to wither into a shell. My tirade is also for words like malevolence as they do inflict a wound on the male conscience.
Yes, it is indeed time for woman to go. It is equally vital for humanity to cease to insist on calling us all humans. An alternative, of course, is to just smile as you read this post and others that debate this issue and magnanimously allow words to keep their original form and change attitudes instead.
The author's blog: The Real Fiction