news Sports Opinions arts variety interact Wildcat On-Line QuickNav

Erasing "man" from our language

By Jeff Burhans
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 30, 1999
Send comments to:

To the editor,

I recently read an article in a business journal about the efforts of a company to regain its market share using the newest Internet technology. I remember this article because it had something in it I hadn't seen in a long time. The article referred to the company's top guy as the "chairman." 

"Chairman," I thought. How refreshing to see that word again after such a long time.  Today every major journal, book, or other publication uses the word "Chairperson" or simply "Chair." It is just part of the ongoing campaign to erase the word "man" from the English vocabulary. Every word that used to contain "man" or "men" has been changed to something more acceptable to our cultural elite. Policeman is now police officer. Fireman is now firefighter. Mailman is now postal worker and so on.

You see, the establishment feels that if they can change the language we use, they can change the way we think. And that, of course, is the goal - to change the way you and I think. All major publications have joined in the effort. An article in Scientific American I read last week refers to a new medicine's benefit to "humankind." You see, the word "mankind" can't be used because it contains the word "man."

Interestingly, though, it may be more difficult for our language police to erase the word "mankind" than other words they have targeted. This is because Neil Armstrong (inadvertently, I'm sure) cemented the word "mankind" into history with the phrase "One small step for mankind." 

It will be hard for the establishment to erase that phrase from the history books, although I'm sure they will give it their best. 

The effort to erase the word "man" has been largely successful in most areas of our society. Today, the only place you will find the word "man" is, perhaps, at the Selective Service department - where only "men" are slated to be drafted and sent to war. That's right.  While the government has been feverishly rewriting laws to make men and women equal, this is the one law they have chosen to keep as it is. You may also find the word "man" within the hundreds of "affirmative action" programs specifically designed to discriminate against men in school admissions, hiring and promotions.

Why have the efforts to erase the word "man" been so successful in our country? Because American men are suckers. While other groups fight for their rights and try to increase their power in society, American men are told that they don't have a right to do the same (unless, of course, they are a man "of color"). Men have accepted the establishment's rules on this and haven't questioned it. Until we wake up and stop being suckers, the establishment will continue to succeed in their efforts.

Jeff Burhans
Former Tucson resident