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How to avoind Sexist Language

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Word choices and grammatical constructions that ignore or minimize the presence and contributions of one sex in society—at home or school or the workplace, in business or professional spheres, in social or personal relationships—may be considered sexist. Many writers and speakers try to avoid such usages, and they reject as well language that calls attention to the sex of an individual when it is irrelevant to the role or situation under discussion. Here are specific suggestions for avoiding sexist language, from replacing one term with another to recasting sentences.

1. Replacing man or men, or words or expressions containing either, when they are clearly intended to refer to a person of either sex or to include members of both sexes.


Instead of “man" consider using “human being, human, person, individual"

Instead of “mankind, man" consider using “human beings, humans, humankind,
humanity, people, human race, human species, society, men and women"

Instead of “man-made" consider using “synthetic, artificial"

Instead of “man in street" consider using" average person, ordinary person"

2. Avoiding terms ending in -man or other gender-specific forms. One approach is to use words ending in -person. Some of these terms, like salesperson and spokesperson, have achieved wide acceptance; others, like councilperson and weatherperson, still sound awkward to many people. When discussing an individual whose sex is known, gender-specific terms such as anchorwoman, businessman, saleswoman, and salesman can be used, although in this situation, too, many people still prefer the neutral terms.


Instead of anchorman consider using “anchor"

Instead of “businessman" consider using “businessperson or more specifically business executive manager, business owner, retailer, etc."

Instead of “cameraman" consider using “camera operator, cinematographer"

Instead of “chairman" consider using “chair, chairperson"

Instead of “cleaning lady" consider using “cleaning woman housecleaner, office cleaner, housekeeper."

Instead of “Clergyman" consider using “member of the clergy, cleric or more specifically minister, rabbi, priest, pastor, etc."

Instead of “congressman" consider using “representative, member of Congress, legislator"

Instead of “policeman" consider using “police officer, law enforcement officer"

Instead of “salesman" consider using “salesperson, sales representative"

Instead of “spokesman" consider using “spokesperson, representative"

Instead of “stewardess," consider using “steward flight attendant"

3. . Avoiding "feminine" suffixes such as -ess, -ette, -trix, and -enne. Words with these suffixes are often regarded as implying triviality or inferiority on the part of the person or role involved, as well as making unnecessary reference to the person's sex.


Instead of “authoress" consider using “author"

Instead of “aviatrix" consider using “aviator"

Instead of “poetess" consider using “poet"

Instead of “proprietress" consider using “proprietor"

Instead of “sculptress" consider using “sculptor"

Instead of “suffragette" consider using “suffragist"

Instead of “usherette" consider using “usher"

Sample Usage


1)A researcher should submit his proposal by December 15 (Do not use he to mean both men and women)

2)Throughout mankind, war has been a necessary evil.

3)A company spokesman will speak to the media this afternoon.

4) More than 25 congressmen are up for re-election.

5) The mayor, wearing a smart red suit and matching pumps, walked into the briefing room and smiled at the media.

6) Instead of: Each student must have his notebook with him in class.

Use: All students must have notebooks with them in class.

7 ) Instead of: A Senator who cannot finish his term of office…

Use: A Senator who cannot finish the term of office…

8) Instead of: Each student must hand in his homework on Thursday.

Use: Each student must hand in the assigned homework on Thursday.

9)Instead of: The nurse awoke her patient.

Use: The nurse awoke the patient.

10 ) Instead of: A student should meet with his advisor.

Use: A student should meet with his or her advisor.

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