Quick! We must de-gender the romance languages

I’ve read this story twice today and I still can’t decide if this is a feminist thing or a transgender thing. Either way, if one group is making use of it today the other will no doubt pick up on the cause tomorrow. The “problem” being addressed is the fact that the French language isn’t gender neutral. And in fact it’s been heavily “gendered” as far back as we have records of people speaking French. But this is the era of the rejection of gender norms (and much of biology) so something has to be done about it.

By way of disclosure, I don’t speak French. It came down to a coin toss in school and I wound up taking Spanish, but there are plenty of similarities along these lines with all the romance languages. At issue here are the endless examples of gender-specific words applying to people as well as the inherent gender of plants, animals and inanimate objects. In Spanish, a female doctor is la medica or la doctora. A male doctor is el medico or el doctoro. In French, the job title of a movie director is directeur in the masculine, and directrice in the feminine.

Of course, this won’t do in 2017. Someone needs to rip the gender references out of this ancient language and a movement is on to do just that. And it’s being led by Éliane Viennot, a professor of literature and language who has been fighting for the feminist cause since the 80s. (PRI)

Three decades after my classmates and I unquestioningly absorbed this rule, however, a new grammar manual released earlier this year by the Hatier publishing house has plunged France into a heated debate over gender-inclusive writing. The new handbook sets forth a method of writing plurals that include both feminine and masculine endings, separated by dots. The gender-neutral plural for director, then, is directeur·rice·s, according to the manual.

Très fier.ère.s d’avoir publié le premier manuel scolaire en écriture inclusive ! Magellan Questionner le Monde CE2. https://t.co/lKnNN1wfJV

At best, this form of inclusive writing is a way to dismantle the patriarchy through a bloodless spelling revolution. At worst, it makes the language of love look like algebra.

So it’s come to this. The French language now needs to be reformed after millennia so standard words will have a series of dots embedded in them just to be sure that no one is confused as to whether Angelina Jolie is a man or a woman when she goes up on stage to accept her next Palme d’Or at Cannes.

It can’t stop there, though, can it? As I mentioned above, it’s not just titles which have a gender associated with them. Reverting back to Spanish for a moment, let’s remember that physical locations are also gendered. The bathroom is baño (masculine) while the shoe store is zapatería (feminine). From an Archie Bunker era perspective those probably make perfect sense, but can you imagine the outrage when a transgender person who has decided they are female winds up having to use a ladies room with a masculine name? Somebody needs to be arrested for this.

Let’s just throw in the towel now. We’ll need an entirely new language which everyone in the world will be forced to learn. Biology can no longer be taught in schools because there won’t be words to describe several fundamental concepts which are at the core of that science. A global lottery can be established which will select who each of you is allowed to date and perhaps marry (assuming marriage is still legal), totally at random in terms of gender because we wouldn’t want to be biased. Then, citizens, we shall finally have achieved true equality and established paradise on Earth.

As for me, I’ll be locked in my bomb shelter with five hundred cases of Hendricks.

Update (Ed): As for me, I’ll stick with Irish, which I’ve begun to study again. It also has gendered nouns, but who’s going to be able to tell? Heck, I used to be conversational in it, and I still can’t tell. Once the whole world speaks Irish, the problem will be solved, surely. Más cam nó díreach an ród, ‘s é an bothar mór an t-aicearra.