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How often were you called bro? If you ask Me, I’d say I was called bro too often, so much more than I’d like (for a woman).

Lately, words like ‘bro’ and ‘Bhai’ have become the new normal. We see people around us referring to
one another as bro and sometimes we often call everyone around us bro irrespective of their gender.
What’s wrong with it, you might ask. Well, right and wrong can be subjective. I would just point out certain reasons why I find them problematic. Firstly, calling everyone bro irrespective of gender normalizes the word, which in turn accepts the male gender as the standard or normal. But does society consist of only one gender? Of course not, gender is a spectrum. Using terms that describe only one gender would be unfair to all the other genders on the spectrum.

Words like man-made, chairman, businessman, and common man exclude the contribution made by
other genders and fail to represent them. Even some laws use gender-biased language. (Sec 8 IPC Gender—The pronoun “he” and its derivatives are used of any person, whether male or female.)
When women, who are the majority gender lack representation, it would be even more difficult to
include the minorities belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community. Thus, there is a need for gender-inclusive

Gender-inclusive language:
It is a language that includes all genders and is not biased toward one particular gender.
According to the United Nations gender-inclusive language guidelines:
“Using gender-inclusive language means speaking and writing in a way that does not discriminate against
a particular sex, social gender or gender identity, and does not perpetuate gender stereotypes. Given the
key role of language in shaping cultural and social attitudes, using gender-inclusive language is a powerful way to promote gender equality and eradicate gender bias.”

Inclusivity helps in representation, which makes the person feel validated and makes it easy to express
their opinions. It impacts one’s self-belief and confidence. Adopting gender-inclusive language helps in
promoting gender equality and fighting gender bias. Gendered language views gender as black and white, i.e., male and female while excluding people from LGBTQIA+ Community.

Too much significance on categorizing everyone into male and female would only increase the chances of
perceiving male and female more different than they actually are. Where as gender- inclusive language emphasizes that gender is a spectrum and apart from men and women, other genders exist as well. It also avoids gender stereotypes.

Some ways to adopt gender-inclusive language in everyday life:
With some practice and effort, we can work towards replacing gender-biased words with gender-neutral
words. Some examples are given below:

Gendered LanguageGender Neutral Language
GuysAll, everyone, people
Layman, common manLayperson, the average person
Boyfriend/ girlfriend, husband/wifePartner or spouse
Boyfriend/GirlfriendPartner, Significant Other
Actor/ActressArtist, Performer
DudeFriend, Person
Ladies and gentlemenFolks, everyone
The common manThe average person

Awareness is usually the first step in anything, now that we are aware of the effects of gender-biased
language, let us be mindful of using gender-neutral language. But I alone can’t fight against something as
big as gender bias you might say, or just because I change my language, it doesn’t cause any significant
difference, you might feel, let me tell you, by using gender-neutral language, you are making everyone
around you feel included, who would, in turn, help others feel included. So be mindful and spread
awareness. Let us all together work towards building a better and more inclusive world where no one feels left out.

Written by: Madaalasa Mannava

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1 Comment

  1. Beautiful article, very intuitive and bringing awareness to an important issue, good job madaalasa

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