Not my own work

I don't normally pinch material from other people but this time I'd like to share a little of an article I read today on inclusive language.

I have always been very strong on using inclusive language, mostly because I grew up in a country (not Australia) where women were invisible. It is a bad feeling to be ignored and trivialised just because of who you are.

Language is a justice issue. Here's what this article says:

"Language is a powerful tool. It facilitates social interaction. It also creates barriers and glass ceilings. People in positions of privilege use language that supports their privilege, often without thinking about it.

"For example, when I was growing up, I heard men use the word man or men in a universal sense to mean all people, instead of using the word person or human. But the reality I saw was that men occupied the positions of power and privilege in society.

"The way they used language perpetuated the privilege they enjoyed and reinforced the power structure that ensured that privilege, regardless of how universally they meant to include women in the word men.

"What does language have to do with justice? In Micah 6:8, we are required to "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God." As people of faith, we are called upon to do the right thing, to treat others with compassion, and to maintain a modest attitude.

"Doing the right thing not only refers to action but also to speech (James 3:1-9). The way we use language can create just or unjust conditions for those to whom we speak.

"Privileges that power groups take for granted and never have to think about are often denied to others by the way the power group uses language. The use of language in a society is a justice issue whenever anyone marginalized is inhibited or excluded from participation in the power groups’ privileges.

"Using careless or insensitive constructions of speech can exclude others from opportunities for full participation in community life and promotes unfair and untrue stereotypes.

"Once our speech pre-judges our attitude, it is easy to keep others at arm's length, even when our intentions are charitable and well-meaning.

"This article will explore how language, specifically as it relates to disability and gender, is a justice issue, and how to promote justice practically through careful, intentional speech.

For the full text of the article, click here.