EU bans the use of ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs’ (and sportsmen and statesmen) because it claims they are sexist

Yup, you read that right. EU bans the use of ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs’ (and sportsmen and statesmen) because it claims they are sexist (emphasis mine.) Not, because, you know, it’s sexist.

I think I would find the over-the-top outrage a lot funnier if it wasn’t, well, sad.

No, really just read this! (I’ve inserted my own comments, but otherwise this passage is unaltered from the original.)

Instead of using the standard titles, it is asking MEPs to address women by their names.

No! Truly, society shall crumble!

And the rules have not stopped there –


they also ban MEPs saying sportsmen and statesmen, advising athletes and political leaders should be used instead.

Man-made is also taboo – it should be artificial or synthetic, firemen is disallowed and air hostesses should be called flight attendants.

Uh… really? That’s it? These seem, uh, pretty obvious to me.

Headmasters and headmistresses must be heads or head teachers, laymen becomes layperson, and manageress or mayoress should be manager or mayor.

Wait, seriously? The words manageress and mayoress actually existed? That’s about as pathetic as millionairess. And people object to eliminating them??

Police officers must be used instead of policeman and policewoman unless the officer’s sex is relevant.

The only problem words that do not fit into the guidelines are waiter and waitress, which means MEPs are at least spared one worry when ordering a coffee.

Thank goodness. I was really concerned about them. Those poor MEPS, and the loss of their mayoresses.

They have reacted with incredulity to the booklet, which has been sent out by the Secretary General of the European Parliament.

Scottish Tory MEP Struan Stevenson described the guidelines as ‘political correctness gone mad’.

Haha, this is my favourite part, this poor guy’s hilariously overwrought rant!

He said: ‘This is frankly ludicrous.

You’re frankly ludicrous, oooh! (Except actually, he kinda is. Keep reading.)

We’ve seen the EU institutions try to ban the bagpipes and dictate the shape of bananas, but now they seem determined to tell us which words we are entitled to use in our own language.

‘Gender-neutrality is really the last straw. The Thought Police are now on the rampage in the European Parliament.

Seriously, guys, it’s like, 1984 or something! Thought Police!!

‘We will soon be told that the use of the words “man” or “woman” has been banned in case it causes offence to those who consider ‘gender neutrality’ an essential part of life.’

Indeed, that slope, it is so slippery! Why, soon, women might ask that we pay them as much as we pay men who do the identical work! The horror!

In all seriousness, I’m excited about this change, and while I’d prefer for people to recognize the inequity and the role language plays in perpetuating it, and choose to alter their language accordingly, well, maybe it’ll work in the other direction, too. At the very least, this is a step in the right direction.


10 Responses to EU bans the use of ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs’ (and sportsmen and statesmen) because it claims they are sexist

  1. Police officers must be used instead of policeman and policewoman unless the officer’s sex is relevant.
    Huh. Interesting. It’s almost like we expect police officers to be of multiple sexes now. Welcome to the Twilight Zone, where women have agency, rather than the real world, where they’re just walking wombs and breasts.

    He described it as ‘a waste of taxpayers’ money’ and ‘an erosion of the English language as we know it’.
    Holy shit, I wish this were satire. ‘Cause if it were, I’d be laughing instead of bleeding out the forehead from too much *headdesk*.

  2. Crowfoot says:

    oh this is good news! but the reactions of some people *rolls eyes* I mean, I’ve been hearing “fire fighter” and “police officer” and “chair” for quite some time now. Did we suddenly go back in time to the 70s?

    Also, why isn’t “waitress” included?? When I worked for a restaurant in the 90s it was all “server.” easy-peasy.

    And “mayoress”??? really?? O.o

  3. Jessica says:

    Seriously, why would waiter and waitress be different from the others? And the quote in the article “MEPs are at least spared one worry when ordering a coffee” doesn’t compute for me, as I never use “waiter” or “waitress” as a form of address. I don’t say “waiter, please bring me the soup” when I’m ordering. I say “I’ll have the soup, please.”

    One thing I didn’t understand from the article is who this affects. Would this rule only apply to legal proceedings and legislative documents? They’re reacting as if there are going to be Vocabulary Police on every street corner, which I’m guessing is not the case.

  4. Liz says:

    Why do I suspect that maintaining ‘waiter’ and ‘waitress’ may have something to do with classism?

  5. eloriane says:

    I am assuming it only applies in their official meetings– basically, anything that would go on the minutes (the “permanent record”) is supposed to conform to a higher standard of language.

    Which almost makes the waiter/waitress thing even weirder. Like… the rules don’t apply when you’re at a restaurant. They only apply when, perhaps, you’re talking about working conditions for wait staff (a conversation which ought to be had in the US, about paying our servers a living wage!). So why, in that context, would anyone use gendered words like waiter or waitress?

    But then, I kind of don’t get why people want to use the gendered terms in the first place. I consciously eliminated that kind of gendered language years ago, along with the supposedly “neutral” (ha!) general “he.” I’ve never found it difficult to drop language that’s been explained to me as being hurtful. Why would I want to contribute to anyone’s suffering? I’ve completely eliminated retard, spaz, lame, and so on from my vocabulary, for example, and never found myself lacking for suitable words.

    Haha, it’s late, so I’m going onto tangents, but it’s long been part of my Feminist Agenda to explicity refer to female heroes in movies and so on as, well, female heroes. Not heroines. I don’t feel like hero needs to be a gendered term, and to use “heroine” for a female hero sounds almost as silly to me as “mayoress” — it doesn’t even connote “female hero” the way that waitress pretty reliably connotes “female server”; to me “heroine” (or “mayoress”) means “female imitation of a hero,” with the feeling of Less Than inherently included in the word, and in the need to specify it as being not the same as a real hero.

    That sort of thinking is included in almost every instance of this split, and it’s tied to the male as default and woman as other, as well. We need to use “police officer” because to use “policeman” and “policewoman” implies that the police are men, and also there are some women who try to do it, too. Their gender is sensationalized and it’s just completely the wrong paradigm.

    This is probably not a rant any of you needed, but, well, language is important! And earlier I was feeling the lulz with this lol/sob moment, but right now, I’m sobbing inside. Is it really that hard for these people to understand?

  6. Jo says:

    Oh my. Where’s my antifeminist bingo card?

    One *headdesk* moment: discovering that, in the comments section of the article, the most approved comments are the “ZOMG Thought Police!!!11eleventy” ones, and the most disapproved ones are rational and feminist.

    Oddly, one of the commenters latched on to what I was wondering about (although, as usual, they’re completely reactionary about it):

    Does this mean that they are going to ban all those European languages with Masculine and Femine nouns?

    That is actually a problem for me: that, while it may be possible to use the same word for both male and female people, the articles (in German, at least) DO indicate perceived gender. Most have the -in suffix (hero-ine, anyone?) to indicate those deviating (women) from the default gender (male).

    Of course that won’t happen, but of course these MRA concern trolls (for that is what they are) are quite invested in making it sound like the EU is going to ban languages entirely. They won’t. There’s no way they would, even if it were possible.

    Haha, it’s late, so I’m going onto tangents, but it’s long been part of my Feminist Agenda to explicity refer to female heroes in movies and so on as, well, female heroes.

    As “female heroes”? If I’m thinking of true linguistic equality, I’d be more inclined to just say “heroes”. “The hero of the story, Jessica…” or something.

    Oh, and I totally bought into the “he == gender neutral!!!” about 1992. I’ve noticed feminists I read using “she” as the default, and am practicing that now instead. I tend to use “one” on occasion too.

  7. eloriane says:

    Jo, when I have to specify the gender, I say “female hero”– the rest of the time I just use “hero”! Yeah, obviously it’s no improvement to substitute “female hero” for “heroine” every time; clearly, I don’t make a lot of sense when I’m going off on sleepy tangents.

  8. Alice says:

    (Sorry, started on your B5 posts, now backtracking through your older posts…)

    I see the link goes to the Daily Mail. Or the Daily Fail as it is more commonly called. (In some circles anyway…) Unfortuntely enough people over here buy it to suggest that there are people that agree with what they say. It’s shaming and horrifying. 😦

  9. eloriane says:

    Yes, well, I certainly wouldn’t recommend taking the Daily Mail seriously! Mocking it, though– that can be fun. I thought it was illustrative of the nonsensical overwrought responses people have to this sort of thing, though, which is why I picked it. 🙂

    And I’m looking forward to seeing your around the rest of the blog! I just finished S2 of B5 and omgomgomg I’m still too excited to blog it rationally! I can’t wait for the next DVD to come in the mail!

  10. Alice says:

    Oh yes, lots of mocking. I just have had to be careful in the past, due to working with people who took such views seriously. Very. I was working in a nursery at the time, and spent lots of time trying to correct the policeman/fireman thing – in books, in discussions… and that was just the tip of the iceburg. Trying to address gender sterotyping and portrayals of non-white characters in books, images on posters, attitude of the staff towards other religons…. headachey!

    omgomgomg. I am so jealous of you watching it for the first time. I’m rewatching it at the moment with an online group, and we are mid-season1. I love it so much. 😀

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