There’s been a good discussion on my last post about the term “Manpower” – thanks to all who actively participated, here and on other channels. It has been fascinating to see that the suggestion of such a small adjustment as replacing the term “manpower” with a neutral alternative (“staffing” etc.) could cause so much headwind (to translate a saying directly from German).
Below is a (not necessarily comprehensive) list of the main arguments that I could see from the debate.
- Suggesting preferable use of one genderized word over another may “trivialize” the issues of feminism.
- The linguistic origin of the word “manpower” justifies its continued use.
- I should concentrate on “bigger issues” instead/ I should not worry about changing the word since this is not a priority.
- Purposely adjusting the language used in official documents equals attempted world domination.
- The word clearly “has power”, which justifies suggesting a change.
- There are ready alternatives that can be used.
- The change is easily done and rather digestible.
- Substituting the term as a first step may help to “nudge things in the right direction”.
I have to say that I found the arguments in support of the change much more convincing than those against, which to me seem to overly dramaticize (not to say somewhat ridicule…) the issue. Those who have supported the statements made in my post (thank you all very much) seem much more reasonable and level-headed overall in their arguments. But then I would say that of course.
What I have seen confirmed in this debate or learned new:
- Any change or adjustment suggested by a smaller group is difficult to push through.
- Women are not all on the same side when it comes to agreeing on the way(s) to address sexism.
- Your daily/personal/professional experience (not to mention gender…) can heavily influence what you find acceptable in terms of “measures”.
- Being in the minority is doubly difficult: you have to face the music where you are *and* you may be criticized by others outside of the situation for the ways in which you try to address the issues.
My mother always told me that I was never someone to choose the “easy path”, and right she was.