I didn’t watch the superbowl, but I caught the highlights/controversial moments the next morning. After witnessing people going off about how they didn’t like the switched up “America the Beautiful,” due to the addition of one word – sisterhood (they kept brotherhood, for anyone keeping score – view the video at this link). And I thought I’d weigh in with my knowledge re: inclusive language.
I have three communications degrees, right? I can’t remember the exact study I learned about, but the results remain embedded in my brain. A bunch of people were asked to either draw or describe what comes into their brain when told certain words. Policeman. Fireman. Mailman. Caveman. You get the idea.
These people did not draw women.
These people did not imagine women.
It’s all well and good to theoretically understand that he = all, that mankind = humanity. But those aren’t the images that pop into our brain and create a building block for understanding.
Inclusive language matters. It’s not simply a matter of being politically correct. I know Strunk and White say it’s not elegant, but I don’t care. When I communicate, I want to be clear with what it is I’m talking about (usually). Inclusive language helps with that.
So, for anyone that wants a dose of facts when discussing this stuff, here are a bunch of studies done in this area.