Under guidance issued to European Parliament staff, the organisation wants to get rid of words such as mankind, manmade, manpower and layman. EU workers and elected MEPs should instead use the terms humanity and staff, reports the Daily Telegraph which says a guidebook has been handed out asking them to avoid the “generic use of man.” The advice features lists of gender-neutral terms to help the bloc’s officials navigate the English language.
The newspaper reported that the guidebook rejects the notion the new terminology is because of political correctness and stresses that the advice is not a set of binding rules.
It says: “Gender-neutral or gender-inclusive language is more than a matter of political correctness.
“Language powerfully reflects and influences attitudes, behaviour and perceptions.”
The book states that employees should use the gender neutral term “political leaders” rather than “statesmen” and “artificial” instead of “manmade.”
“The use in many languages of the word ‘man’ in a wide range of idiomatic expressions which refer to both men and women, such as manpower, layman, man-made, statesmen, committee of wise men, should be discouraged.
“With increased awareness, such expressions can usually be made gender-neutral.”
The book has been written by the Parliament’s secretariat which hopes to avoid sexist phrases and promote inclusivity.
It “aims to avoid phrasings that could be seen as conveying prejudice, discrimination, degrading remarks or implying that a certain gender or social gender represents the norm”.
Dr Lee Rotherham, from the Red Cell think tank, mocked the EU for being so “nervous” about offending it chose to use bridges instead of people on its bank notes.
He told the Telegraph: “We should expect as much from an organisation that is so nervous about offending people it puts non-existent bridges on its bank notes.”
The European Union uses all 24 official languages of its member states for business but English is the dominant lingua franca.
Last year the European Parliament also published advice on sexual harassment to MEPs amid the #MeToo movement.