Mind your language

None of what Im about to say here is either original thought nor rocket science, but it needs saying, again.

Language matters.

One of the things that Feminists (sic) aka ranty women get accused of ” banging on about” is about  language & gender.

In most of modern western society we’ve had this discussion, and done the work and it is considered normal and proper for gender neutral language to be used in situations where the job, role or person could be either male or female, and  where there is no referral to a specific person ( have you any idea how long it took my Monday brain to work out how to say that without splitting an infinitive…!)

So we have people and person and Chair  or Chairperson, Fire & Police Officers.. et al . Generally.

We’ve also mostly got away from nasty little disclaimers such as ” where the male gender is used, female is also implied”

Just read that again…

However,  in the church things, as always seem a little slower.

I spent some time on Saturday querying the  use of “Chairman” in some diocesan documentation.

To be fair some of this it was explained to me was down to legal phraseology that had to be taken from a 1925  piece of legislation, and work was ongoing to make the main text gender neutral, and the disclaimer to read so that ” Chair” now stood for Chairman in the original legislation. I’ve had assurances that this will happen. **

all good, so far.

What was less good was that a speaker at this meeting still felt the need to refer to Clergymen, in a mixed gathering, while referring to a group, as yet unformed, which has the potential to be a mixed group ( so help us God..)

How are the voices of women every going to be effectively heard where this is ” allowed” in a meeting? It effectively ignores the presence of women, silences their contribution and pretends they’re not even there.

How can we be heard, learn to value ourselves ( for contrary to media image this is one of the things women find hardest to do, love & value  themselves) if  the language we constantly hear in our beloved Church is androcentric? How can our daughters learn their own value in the Church and the Kingdom if they have to sing songs about being God’s Sons or read Bible versions that talk about Jesus saving men or mankind…?

Come on people, this is not just ranty PMT talk, its proper serious, and we have to be proper serious about fixing it. Now.


** I understand some women want to be referred to as Chairmen when in that role.. that’s their prerogative, I don’t understand it but I’m happy to accept it if its what *they* want. I’m also fine with a man being a Chairman not a Chair or a Chairperson But where the role is hypothetical or unfilled, then language must be neutral.



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