|Can we be too politically correct?|
|Written by Daily Vidette Editorial Board|
|Sunday, 15 April 2012 12:22|
Is there such a thing as being too politically correct? In Sweden, a new gender neutral pronoun, “hen,” has been developed to banish gender, according to Slate Magazine. Sweden has been widely recognized as the most gender-equal country on Earth. Parental leave equates to 480 days and women earn two-thirds of the degrees.
The country has often said that the citizens not only want to be gender-equal, but gender-neutral. In many facets, such as sports, baby names, and workplace environments, the people of Sweden do not let gender have an effect on a person.
For the rest of the world, and even ISU, we have seen similar changes. Referring to a chairman has changed to a chairperson, and spokesman to spokesperson, along with many others. The list goes on and on for masculine phrasing and word construction. There are plenty of other masculine words or words with “man” contained within, like freshman, but we haven’t seen anyone trying to change freshman to freshperson.
According to a critic of Sweden’s “hen,” Jan Guillou, one of Sweden’s well-known authors, the proponents of “hen” are feminist activists who want to destroy the Swedish language. Other critics explained that being so gender neutral can be psychologically and socially demanding, especially for children.
In our culture, the struggle between men and women is something that is widely studied in classes and disciplines like women and gender studies. In these classes, professors teach how women are underrepresented in politics and are constantly undermined simply because they are women. While this may or may not ring true to some, the small numbers of women in government do not lie.
However, if women cannot be identified as women and men cannot be identified as men, it leaves a huge gap of a person’s identity open, or neutral. It is in our biological makeup that men and women are built, think, and behave differently. The same goes for transgendered and gay individuals — everyone has their own unique identity made up by their gender group affiliations. If the English language somehow came up with a gender neutral pronoun and no one went by he, she, or even they, we would just be an “it.”
While the idea behind using a word to address everyone equally is great, the outcome could be people growing up confused by their biological sex or people who do not conform to this new social norm and become outcasts. While the example of “hen” is fairly new, the fact that it could catch on and make children feel uncomfortable with expressing their gender identity could cause problems down the line.
Establishing a way to refer to one another without gender is something that might not always have a positive outcome. When a waiter calls your table of friends “guys” or “folks” some people are bothered because those words do not reflect individuality. While “ma’am” or “sir” also are vague, they are more representative in terms of gender identity.
While this may mean little change to the way our American culture functions, it is still an interesting experiment to see what will happen in Sweden. If it is popular, will we all start calling people our own English gender-neutral pronoun? Will we all just be “it” one day?