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Purdue Bans The Word 'Man'    



  By: Katie Petrick
   Published : March 13, 2018


Finals will be here before college students recover from their latest hangovers, and that means it is time to write those pesky term papers. And unfortunately for them, the professors will dictate that formatting be done properly and the writing include complete sentences.

For more than two decades, the Online Writing Lab of Purdue University has been a resource to assist students and professionals, alike, in the writing and formatting of formal papers. In surpassing more than 410 million page views in 2016, the OWL is viewed as a trustworthy voice, but there is great danger that the citation website is moving from authoritative to authoritarian.

The OWL recently announced recommendations to remove gender-biased language in formal writing. This means that using the term "man" in the general context is no longer advised. The updated writing guidelines are attempting to avoid " stereotypes and biased language."

"Biased language frequently occurs with gender, but can also offend groups of people based on sexual orientation, ethnicity, political interest, or race," OWL states.

The OWL provides the new guidelines with examples of what it means by eliminating the use of "man." Freshmen, sorry fresh-people, and all the formal paper authors are instructed to not reference mankind but choose humanity instead. Man-made should not be mentioned but replaced with manufactured. And the phrase "common man" is pejorative, so use average person or ordinary person. OWL clearly misses the use of man and son in all of their replacement options. And yet, because OWL has been viewed respectfully to this point, no one will blink an eye at the changes and just take them as something to add.

OWL's jumping on the political bandwagon has ripple effects that it may not have been thought through to its natural consequences, or maybe it has and simply does not care about the English language. Think about all of the terms and phrases that must be torn down and eliminated with the removal of man from writing.

Neil Armstrong should have said, "That's one small step for person, one giant leap for people kind." That does not have the same ring to it. And again, it has the term son in it, so that will likely be taken away, too. People can no longer sing along to Billy Joel's iconic "Piano Man." Now you must sing us a song, piano player.

The comic book craze will be squashed as many of the idolized heroes must go. Thanks to the destruction of man, so goes the stories of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. Basically, this is the dismantling of the Justice League. And goodbye to all of the X-Men. Charles Xavier and his rag tag of mutated misfits must go, in the name of diversity. Words are the true villains who will have taken down the superheroes.

An entire section to renaming certain occupational titles that included man were also explained in OWL's new guidelines. For example, a mailman or postman is now to be a mail carrier. This is where an understanding of the English language really comes into play because the homophones may get mixed up. This is m-a-i-l not m-a-l-e, because that would be sexist.

The point has been made. The OWL's guidelines are destructive to the English language and intellectual thought. To quote the "man" and revered author George Orwell: "If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them."

Get those term papers written, and be very careful in letting others do thinking for you because soon you will have no thoughts of your own. And if you are looking for a little extra challenge, infuse your paper with as many words containing "man" as humanly possible.

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