- For Teachers
It is true that politically correct language has sometimes resulted in absurd situations, but many people feel that getting rid of male-oriented language has played its part in removing obstacles to women's rightful place in society. Many editresses and actresses, for example, wished to be treated as editors and actors, i.e., people who edited and acted, not as female editors and actors.
Some traditionalists claimed that, with words ending in -man, the weak ending /mən/ was gender-free. That may have been true of 'chairman', but was not true in other cases. In my youth, we all knew that a policeman's job was to keep our society free from crime. A policewoman's job was to look after young and female victims of crime. The Women's Royal Naval Service, Women's Royal Air Force and the Women's Royal Army Corps were for (female) people who provided administrative and other support services. The real job of the services, (whose names did not need to include the word Men's) was done by men.
If accepting 'chairperson' or 'chair' instead of the unnecessary gender-differentiating 'chairman' and 'chairwoman' is something we have to put up with as part of getting rid of prejudice against women, then I can live with it.
I am fortunate in being male. I say fortunate, not because I think that males are 'better' in any way than females, but because it has made life simpler for me. My gender, my ethnicity, my height (!) and my accent are some of the things that have given me an unfair advantage in life. I am in favour of our being more careful about words if this can help remove unfair disadvantages from others.
It took some time for some white people to accept that the N-word was offensive to those it was used of. I hope it doesn't take us quite so long to realise that '-ess' words can appear offensive to those they are used of.
Here's a picture of a manhole and its cover:P Bits of programming: Manhole puzzle