We love a good ‘political correctness gone mad’ moment – in fact, Smarta has been finding it more and more difficult to tear its eyes away from The Daily Mail website of late, where frequently used terms such as ‘leftist propaganda machine’ and sentences which begin with ‘as a taxpayer, I ...’ in the comments section make for entertaining reading. You should try it, it’s riveting.
Anyway, this morning’s announcement that the EU has banned the terms ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs’ – to be replaced by the less sexist term ‘Ms’ – will have the Daily Mail brigade frothing at the mouths. We can already picture the comments: they’ll start off by blaming Gordon Brown, then the BBC, then terrorists, then immigrants, then communists. It’s always those bloody communists.
The Daily Telegraph has already dusted off its soapbox. “Whatever next?” it snorts. “It can only be a matter of time before the words ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are proscribed by the nitwits in Brussels on the grounds that their use is loaded, gender-wise. What a dull world they want for us – and our civilisation.”
But the reality is while bottom pinching and catcalling may have died down, sexism in the workplace is still widespread – and changing the way we use language may go some way to altering ‘traditional’ ideas of the roles women are supposed to play at work. As it stands, almost three quarters of women have experienced sexist bullying at work, while a staggering 85% believe there is still a bias towards males.
‘Mrs’ and ‘Miss’ denote marital status: something which shouldn’t even come into play in the workplace. We’re sure The Daily Mail’s readership will go nuts, but actually any step towards equality – and language plays such an important role in how we think – can only be a good thing.