When Political Correctness Goes Wrong: Berkeley, CA to Remove ‘Gender-Specific’ Words; ‘Manpower’ Becomes ‘Human Effort’ or ‘Workforce’

  • In an effort to be more inclusive and become gender-neutral, the liberal city of Berkeley, California will do away with certain words.
  • Berkeley’s city council “voted unanimously this week to replace about 40 gender-specific words in the city code with gender-neutral terms.” The move has been both praised and criticized.
  • “Manholes” will be replaced by “maintenance holes.” “Manpower” will be called “workforce” or “human effort.” There will be no gender-specific pronouns so “she,” “her,” “he” and “him” will be replaced by “they” and “them.”
  • The Bay Area is synonymous with progressive politics and implementing first-of-its-kind ordinances. For example, “Berkeley was among the first cities to adopt curbside recycling in the 1970s and more recently, became the first in the U.S. to tax sugary drinks and ban natural gas in new homes.”
  • Councilmember Rigel Robinson co-authored the measure and said: “As society and our cultures become more aware about issues of gender identity and gender expression, it’s important that our laws reflect that. Women and non-binary people are just as deserving of accurate representation.”
  • The change will take effect in the fall, which means “all city forms will be updated and lists with the old words and their replacements will be posted at public libraries and the council chambers.”
  • The cost to taxpayers to make the changes will be around $600, according to Robinson.
  • A linguistics professor said: “Anytime you’re talking about something where gender is not the issue but you use a gendered term that immediately sends a message of exclusion, even if it’s a dialogue that has nothing to do with gender.”
  • A resident who disagree with the new ordinance said: “If you try to change the laws every time someone has a new opinion about something, it doesn’t make sense. It’s just a bad habit to get into.”

Reference Links

  • AP: Berkeley drops words like ‘manpower’ in push to be inclusive READ
  • MarketWatch: Berkeley to ban ‘manhole’ and other gender-specific words READ
  • KOMO: No ‘manpower’: Berkeley bans gender-specific words in code READ
  • NBC: No more ‘manholes’: Berkeley, California, removing all gendered language from city code READ

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