Sometimes, without being aware, our actions reinforce gender stereotypes and the way we talk also shows this behavior. And, it is not because you act like this deliberately, at times they are expressions that we have listened too many times that we repeat them without thinking they can offend somebody or even generate violence.
Many of the expressions we use, even the jokes we make normalize discrimination and deepen the gap, becoming in a source of violence. But, this is not something new, as for many years as society, we have justified the unequal relationship between men and women and, although many have fight to reduce such gap, gendered and exclusionary expressions are still a part of our cultures.
Inclusive language pretends to move forward to a gradual change of the rules that govern over our society to promote equality, respect and no violence. And, although it is thought that this kind of language only encourage women, it also impacts men and women who are not defined by their sex or sexual orientation of whom “do not fit” within the stereotypes.
Expressions you should avoid
Even though these ways of depreciation seem to be subtle, they stay in the collective unconscious from generation to generation. Learn some of the expressions you should avoid for a better use of inclusive language.
-The use of Miss like a way to talk to women. It is advised to use Mrs. in all cases.
– “Men do not cry”. This well-known expression invalidates men emotions and make them feel forced to show themselves strong at all times.
– “You act like a girl”. This stigmatizes the way women act, especially young girls.
– “You better behave like a little man/little woman”. This deepens gender inequality, and highlights some attributes of each gender.
– “He is strong like a big man”. Reinforces the beliefs we use to have before gender roles.
It is very probable you have used some of these expressions and some others of common use in our culture, but you were not aware of this may have a great impact over other people. It is important for you to know a bit more about inclusive language and the importance that your words do not foster negativism, preconceptions or violence at all.
How can we transform our language?
If it is common to listen we need to think before we speak, we sometimes go back to stereotypes our society has planted for ages, even without realizing we are behaving like that. To promote a more balanced world, it is imperative to transform the way we use our vocabulary. Find some useful recommendations below:
– Use both, masculine and feminine versions for the same word: girlfriend and boyfriend.
– Use collective nouns instead of generic ones: humankind.
– Refer to groups as their functions or infinitives that do not distinguish a person, number or time: general public
– Avoid the masculine generic: Use who, somebody, anybody.
– If apply, use the feminine form for titles, positions and professions if occupied by women: Hostess
– Use both versions of nouns when apply: Host and hostess.
– Use backslash to show both options, feminine and masculine nouns: The interested man/women.
– Avoid referring to women as a man’s possession: His/Your woman.
When talking to LGBT Community:
– Use expressions like: “all genders”, “gender assigned at birth”, “biological gender”.
– Avoid using expressions like Mr. or Mrs.
– Use “same sex relationships”, instead of “gay or lesbian relationship”.
Although some language experts do not advise to use inclusive language, it is really important for you to check the way you talk before speaking, considering what your words can cause without overreacting.
In the #YoDigoNoMas movement, we seek to promote the conscious selection of the words to avoid replicating gendered and exclusionary social constructions. In the same way, we provide education and tools to identify and prevent sexual abuse. Know more about our movement and join our cause.