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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Inclusive Language and Affirmative Action

Last week I was speaking with a baby boomer who happened to be reading through one of my answers to the questions I had to turn in for class. John Paul II uses the term "man" throughout his works and so I adopted his same terms in order to answer the questions in the proper context and of course, without unweidy extra letters and words.

The woman turned to me as she read it and said, "And by MAN it also means WOMAN, right?" She nudged me conspiratorially and said sotto voce, "We have to update these men!"

I, of course, as typical of me, opened my mouth and gave my immediate opinion: "I HATE inclusive langage."

She was shocked and stared at me as though I were some sort of creature under glass. "Really?!"

I nodded, looking her directly in the eye, my blood already boiling. "Yup. I think it's incredibly offensive, and I'm speaking as an ex-cop and ex-firefighter."

I have always hated inclusive language. I grew up hearing the term "man" as a description of all humanity, and I did not have a problem with it. I remember the song we always used to sing in church, "Let there be peace one earth, and let it begin with me....with God as our Father, Brothers all are we...." was changed to some hokey phrase that, in my opinion, wrecked the meaning of the song. I NEVER felt excluded by the term "brothers" because I had always understood this to mean "brothers and sisters." But when I heard the "inclusive language" I felt EXCLUDED in such a way that apparently attention needed to be drawn to my "difference." It didn't make any sense to me.

Was I just a genius? No, not really. But I do look back and realize that I did have a certain amount of common sense which had not been disrupted by the lowest common denominator.

The understanding of language and context has always come easily to me, so perhaps I should not be so hard on those to whom it does not. But let's be realistic; the use of inclusive langue implies that women are too stupid to understand context and theology.

I compare it to "Affirmative Action" which implies that women and other designated "minorities" are too stupid or unqualified to get certain jobs. While Affirmative Action hasn't been all bad, it does get to a point where the goals it sought to meet have changed and in fact, are no longer needed in some places. I have come to loathe the term and the use of it. Why, you may ask?

Because, as I stated, it implies that I, as a woman, cannot possibly qualify for some things without something to help me do so. Inclusive language is the same thing. Not only does it change meanings of things, it's unweildy and insulting, and by its use, it sets apart those it professes to "include".

When I was first getting into Law Enforcement, I worked my butt off, knowing that I had a lot to overcome. At skills training, I put in extra time in the gym, I paid attention in class, and truth be told, I excelled both academically and physically. I actually take great pride in the fact that I did very well physically, far exceeding the "passing" requirements on the physical tests, especially considering that most of it catered to tall people and things that came easily to most men. I learned to adapt (some things with the help of my male counterparts), and for those things I could not seem to find a technique to overcome I worked extra hard to obtain the required strength. And to be fair, the skills program I went to actually had some standards that were more stringent for women, in recognition of the differences in the female body and thus our abilities for certain tasks.

I have constantly met people who claimed that I only got into skills, or, when I was done with my formal education, got hired as a cop because of "Affirmative Action."

All I can say to those people is a very uncharitable "Bite me!"

I worked HARD to prove to myself and to the world that I could do the job; and considering that I was then and am still only 5'3", and managed to not only compete with but beat many of the men in my class...take that "benefit" of Affirmative Action and stuff it where the sun don't shine.

(I may remove this post or edit this later, so read and comment now while it's hot!)

I got really SICK of being told that I only did what I did because of some legislative BS. It was a complete denial of the reality of the hard work I put in to legitimately qualify for every goal I sought. I did it on my own merit, on the network of references that I built through solid work ethic, and of course, by the grace of God.

Maybe some women are comfortable with the idea of coasting along on some kind of legislation that permitted laziness and lawsuits for alleged "discrimination." I knew some women like that and I did my best to distance myself from them. They make all of us look like a bunch of fools. And amazingly, every woman I knew in that particular category was a rabid feminist who couldn't be bothered to put in the extra effort in the gym or with the books or whatever was required to take them out of their myopic navel-gazing worldview.

Then I was hired as a cop and still heard the same old BS from the ignorant; "You only got hired so they could fill a quota."

Is there anything that attacks anyone's professional and personal dignity more than such an idea?

Move on to firefighting; I've also run into a bunch of ignoramuses who suggested that women in firefighting can't do the job because they don't have to work as hard in training.

WHAT!?

Yeah, I gave those people an earful, too. (I used to cuss like a sailor and I didn't hold back when provoked. I'm not proud of it but it DID make people think twice before saying such inflammatory things.)

The reality is this; women CAN do the job, and admittedly, it comes a lot easier to men because men are built for it. But they suffer for the job, too. I can give you lists of names of men who have wrecked their knees, their shoulders (shoulder injuries are common to firefighters and can be very debilitating), their lungs, hearing, etc. No one is made for that job, but it is necessary and we should thank those who do it, men and women both. The fact is that although women can do the job, we have to work THREE TIMES AS HARD as men in order to do it, and our bodies really are't built to take that kind of physical stress.

In my early days on the job, I ran into one of the first women hired by the department. She told me to get promoted as soon as possible and get off the rigs; she explained that her body was worn out, she had worked hard for nearly 20 years to keep it up, and she'd been quite the feminist, but finally, she had to realize that she couldn't do it anymore because she'd never been designed that way. She couldn't seem to get the politics to get promoted off the rig so she worked for the "cushiest" possible job in the station, that of Fire Motor Operator (FMO), and was counting down the days to retirement while praying to get through the next physical checkup. She needed the pension she'd worked so hard to earn and was so close!

Radical feminism has done nothing more than destroy women; it's destroyed our bodies, it's destroyed our hearts, its destroyed our consciences. It's introduced trash such as inclusive language in an attempt to also destroy our intellect.

So we come full circle, don't we?

Let me be clear; I'm a feminist. I do believe that women can and should have the same opportunities as men in most cases. Yet that does not mean that I have checked my brain at the door. I know that when the Bible says "man" it also includes "woman" in the plan of salvation. No one needs to spell that out to me. The context is there and the inherent dignity we all have is written not only into the pages, but upon our hearts and souls.

If we look at other languages, we see that inclusivity isn't even a part of their culture. Apparently only Americans or other English-speakers are dumb enough not to understand actual context.

In Spanish, the use of -o or -a at the ends of words signifies the genders of the words. Some words are feminine even if applied to men, some words are masculine even if applied to women. And then there is the use of direct objects and words that apply to mixed company. What to do?

Let's take the term: todos. Everyone.

Todas - everyone (applied to a group of females)
Todos - everyone (applied to a group of males)

Todos - applied to a group of mixed men and women.

In Mexico, I never met a woman who was offended to be included in a group referred to as "todos".

The reality is that language by its very nature is already inclusive unless the context excludes a certain group. It does not take a brain surgeon to figure out context.

We do not need inclusive language in the Church; we do not need rabid feminist propaganda to wreck what is not broken. When we women go to Mass, we see images of the women who have gone before us, primarily Mary, our Mother, who paves the way to Jesus Christ. Our femininity is not denied, but is included in the worship and is in fact an integral part the Mystical Body of Christ.

Inclusive language denies our dignity as women by the implication that we have to be set apart. We MUST not be set apart from the whole for it is men and women who complete one another.

And what does Affirmative Action have to do with this? Nothing. I just felt like spouting off about a secular insult to the integrity of women everywhere.

I'm a woman. I get to do that kind of thing. It's in my nature. Deal with it.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have been an female electrician for 20 years and could never put my finger on why I hated affirmative action or inclusive language. You spelled it out very eloquently. Thank You!

Adoro te Devote said...

Thanks anon!

Angela Messenger said...

Adoro - I needed that post! Thank you! After my run in with "hebrew scholar catholic wanting inclusive language" this was a breath of FRESH AIR!!!!!

Jay3gsm said...

I have always been against Affirmative Action. For me, giving someone a job or a role solely because they are female, black, white, gay, whatever, sucks. If you are qualified and skilled enough to do a job, then you do it, regardless of anything else. I'm a newcomer to your site, I like what I read. I think I'll come back. :)

Melody J said...

Even worse than a priest who uses inclusive language like "brothers and sisters" is one who reverses it and says "sisters and brothers." I find that incredibly patronizing!!

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Angry Adoro: I'm really pleased that you mentioned that a major problem with inclusive language is that it does not work with many, if not most, non-English languages at ALL.

I've heard more then my fair share of songs and text mangled and bent in the contortionist effort to avoid saying a male pronoun.

IMHO, there are more urgent problems in the world and in our Faith then this.

Women are so important in our Church and in our Faith. NO orthodox priest that I have ever known will tell you any different. Honestly, it's the non-orthodox priests who spend the most time essentially telling us we are less. Just pick up your Bible and read it. Look around. What's the ratio of female statutes to male in our parishes? How many more women volunteer in our parishes then men? What's the ratio of men to women on any given Sunday?

Let us not worry about semantics. In the end, the pronouns will not matter.

My take on AA: If people can do the job, fine. If you can't don't.

RUMBLE-ON SIS-TAH!

Cranky Cathy

Ray from MN said...

"Angry Adoro" and "Cranky Cathy!"

I'm going to have to watch my P's and Q's from now one, guys!

Restive Ray

Fr. V said...

Gads.

You get more and more interesting.

The funny thing about inclusive language is that it isn't. Try it out in a room where one of the sexes is represented by just one person and see who all of a sudden seems excluded by so called inclusivity.

Funny note - twenty years ago I thought I'd be a "with it" guy and introduce inclusive language to my home parish choir. They were thoroughly confused. When one of the persons finally raised her hand and asked, "I don't get it, is this a game?" I put the notion to rest.

Adoro te Devote said...

Thank you, Fr. V! That's EXACTLY it...God bless that wonderful woman who set you straight!

Mara Joy said...

neat post! (I love good rants!)

Tony said...

Adoro, you win manly woman of the week. :)

Adoro te Devote said...

Thanks, Tony! Much appreciate the manly support! LOL!

YOU just earned a link on my blogroll!

Mac McLernon said...

Adoro, that is one hell of a stunning rant... I cannot believe I haven't spotted your blog before. Keep up the good work (I shall enthuse on my own blog later in the day... I'm up way past bedtime!)

Adoro te Devote said...

Thank you Mac! LOL, you are QUICK with the comments! :-)