Q & A: Use of Non-Sexist Language

Release Date: 

Monday, March 3, 2008

 

WHAT IS CSC MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR NO. 12, S. 2005?

CSC Memorandum Circular No. 12, S. 2005, issued on March 30, 2005, encourages government officials and employees to use non-sexist language in all its official documents, issuances and communications.

WHY IS THERE A NEED TO USE NON-SEXIST LANGUAGE?

Language is an essential tool in communication. It articulates consciousness, reflects culture, and affects socialization. Hence, the need to recognize the importance of transforming language from traditional usage to a more liberating one, that which is gender-sensitive.

HOW CAN THE CSC ISSUANCE PROMOTE GENDER AWARENESS?

Since government officials and employees encounter gender issues everyday, the use of nonsexist language in preparing letters, memoranda and other communications will encourage us to make a conscious effort to avoid implicit and explicit discriminatory language against women and men. This, in turn, will help promote gender-sensitivity in the workplace.

HOW CAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES EMPLOY NON-SEXIST LANGUAGE IN THEIR COMMUNICATIONS?

Below are some suggestions on how to use non-sexist language.

1. Eliminate the generic use of HE, HIS, or HIM unless the antecedent is obviously male by:

a. Using plural nouns

Traditional: The lawyer uses his brief to guide him.

Suggested: The lawyers use their briefs to guide them,

b. Deleting he, his, and him altogether, rewording if necessary

Traditional: The architect uses his blueprint to guide him.

Suggested: The architect uses the blueprint as a guide.

c. Substituting articles (a, an, the) for his; using who instead of he

Traditional: The writer should know his readers well.

Suggested: The writer should know the readers well.

d. Using One, We or You

e. Using the passive voice

Traditional: The manager must submit his proposal today.

Suggested: The proposal must be submitted by the manager today.

 

Traditional: As one grows older, he becomes more effective.

Suggested: As one grows older, one becomes more effective. 

2. Eliminate the generic use of Man, instead use People, Person(s), Human(s), Human Being(s), Humankind, Humanity, The Human Race

Traditional: ordinary man, mankind, the brotherhood of man

Suggested: ordinary people, humanity, the human family

3. Eliminate sexism in symbolic representations of gender in words, sentences, and text by:

a. Taking the context of the word, analyzing its meaning, and eliminating sexism in the concept:

Traditional: feelings of brotherhood, feelings of fraternity

Suggested: feelings of kinship, solidarity

 

Traditional: the founding father

Suggested: the founders, the founding leaders

 

Traditional: the Father of relativity theory

Suggested: the founder of relativity theory, the initiator of relativity theory

b. Finding precise words to delineate the thing itself from supposedly sex-linked characteristics:

Traditional: Titanic was a great ship, but she rests at the bottom of the sea.

Suggested: Titanic was a great ship, but it now rests at the bottom of the sea.

 

Traditional: “Don’t let Mother Nature rip you off! She’s out to kill your car’s new finish. Stop her . . .”

Suggested: “Don’t let nature rip you off! It’s out to kill your car’s new finish. Stop it . . .”

4. Eliminate Sexual Stereotyping of Roles by:

a. Using the same term for both genders when it comes to profession or employment:

Traditional: Salesman, Stewardess

Suggested: Sales agent, Flight attendant

b. Using gender fair terms in lexical terms

Traditional: Sportsmanship

Suggested: Highest ideals of fair play

c. Treating men and women in a parallel manner

Traditional: I now pronounce you man and wife.

Suggested: I now pronounce you husband and wife.

d. Avoiding language that reinforces stereotyping images

Traditional: a man’s job, the director’s girl Friday

Suggested: a big job, the director’s assistant

e. Avoiding language that catches attention to the sex role of men and women

Traditional: working mothers, spinsters or old maids

Suggested: wage-earning mothers, unmarried women

 

Traditional: busboys, chauvinist pigs

Suggested: waiter’s assistants, male chauvinists

5. Eliminate sexism when addressing persons formally by:

a. Using Ms. instead of Mrs.

Traditional: Mrs. Dela Cruz

Suggested: Ms. dela Cruz

b. Using a married woman’s first name instead of her husband’s

Traditional: Mrs. Juan dela Cruz

Suggested: Ms. Maria Santos-dela Cruz

c. Using the corresponding titles for females:

Traditional: Dra. Concepcion Reyes

Suggested: Dr. Concepcion Reyes

d. Using the title of the job or group in letters to unknown persons

Traditional: Dear Sir

Suggested: Dear Editor, Dear Credit Manager, Dear Colleagues

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