Culture

University Language Guide Deems ‘Homosexual’ and ‘Housewife’ to Be Offensive Terms

(Photo: Jason Stitt/Dreamstime)
Believe it or not, ‘housewife’ is still a badge of honor for some.

Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales is instructing its students and teachers to not use “potentially discriminatory” words like “homosexual” and “housewife.”

There are a total of 34 no-no words listed on the school’s “Code of Practice on Using Inclusive Language” list, which aims to promote “fairness and equality through raising awareness about the effects of potentially discriminatory vocabulary,” according to an article in The Independent.

Other forbidden words include “mankind,” “forefathers,” and “Miss/Mrs.” The code also suggests some replacements. For example: The guide deems the words “homosexual” and “heterosexual” to be “laden with the values of a previous time,” and so it recommends “referring to ‘same-sex’ and ‘other-sex’ relationships” instead. Other suggested swaps include using “Ms.” instead of “Miss/Mrs.” (“unless a specific preference has been stated”), “humanity, humankind, human race, people” instead of “mankind,” “and “shopper, consumer, homemaker (depends on context)” instead of “housewife.”

Now, to be honest, I really cannot imagine any of my stay-at-home-mom friends saying that they would would rather be called a “consumer” than a “housewife,” and I’m pretty sure that some of them would find that “shopper” label to be downright insulting. Is “housewife” a bit of an old-timey term, one that suggests you are a woman who performs traditional wife-y tasks? Yes, it is — but some women are still proud of that. The label “housewife” denotes that a woman is doing the things that she does (yes, including shopping) not for herself, but out of love and care for the family that she built with her husband — which is, believe it or not, still a badge of honor for some.

According to The Independent, the policy also warns students and faculty to not to be too careful with language, because, and I quote: “Blind people do use terms like ‘see you later’ and being too careful can make conversation difficult for both parties.”

A Cardiff University spokesperson insisted to The Independent that the school “is committed unreservedly to the principle of academic freedom within the law,” but not everyone is convinced.

For example, Dr. Joanna Williams, the author of Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity, told BBC Wales that she thinks the new guidelines are “very authoritarian,” and that universities and colleges “should trust academics to be able to communicate with each other without being permanently offended.

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