You can’t make this stuff up……

2 years, 4 months ago 12
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Jack Graham sent me this document thought you might enjoy it!


Stereotypes and Biased Language – Purdue University



This handout will cover some of the major issues with appropriate language use: levels of language formality, deceitful language and euphemisms, slang and idiomatic expressions; using group-specific jargon; and biased/stereotypical language.


Contributors:Dana Lynn Driscoll, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2018-02-14 03:13:17


Avoid using language that is stereotypical or biased in any way. Biased language frequently occurs with gender, but can also offend groups of people based on sexual orientation, ethnicity, political interest, or race.


Stereotyped Language


Stereotyped language is any that assumes a stereotype about a group of people. For example, don’t assume a common stereotype about blonde women:

Incorrect: Although she was blonde, Mary was still intelligent.
Revised: Mary was intelligent.

Non-Sexist language

Writing in a non-sexist, non-biased way is both ethically sound and effective. Non-sexist writing is necessary for most audiences; if you write in a sexist manner and alienate much of your audience from your discussion, your writing will be much less effective.

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) suggests the following guidelines:


Generic Use


Although MAN in its original sense carried the dual meaning of adult human and adult male, its meaning has come to be so closely identified with adult male that the generic use of MAN and other words with masculine markers should be avoided.


  • Original: mankind
  • Alternatives: humanity, people, human beings
  • Original: man’s achievements
  • Alternative: human achievements
  • Original: man-made
  • Alternatives: synthetic, manufactured, machine-made
  • Original: the common man
  • Alternatives: the average person, ordinary people
  • Original: man the stockroom
  • Alternative: staff the stockroom
  • Original: nine man-hours
  • Alternative: nine staff-hours



Avoid the use of MAN in occupational terms when persons holding the job could be either male or female.


  • Original: chairman
  • Alternatives: coordinator (of a committee or department), moderator (of a meeting), presiding officer, head, chair
  • Original: businessman
  • Alternatives: business executive, business person
  • Original: fireman
  • Alternative: firefighter
  • Original: mailman
  • Alternative: mail carrier
  • Original: steward and stewardess
  • Alternative: flight attendant
  • Original: policeman and policewoman
  • Alternative: police officer
  • Original: congressman
  • Alternative: congressional representative

Historically, some jobs have been dominated by one gender or the other. This has lead to the tendency for a person of the opposite gender to be “marked” by adding a reference to gender. You should avoid marking the gender in this fashion in your writing.


  • Original: male nurse
  • Alternative: nurse
  • Original: woman doctor
  • Alternative: doctor



My letter in response to Allen Brizee one of it’s authors:


Dear Professor Brizee,


I read with great interest the new Purdue University Guidelines regarding Stereotypes and Biased Language.


I must say that even if you’re blond this was a very intelligent approach to a serious cultural problem deeply and negatively affecting the daily lives of millions of Americans!


Your work on this is a great benefit to mankind, and one of man’s greatest achievements!  The common man owe’s  you a sincere debt of gratitude!


I have no idea how many man hours this took, but it was sure worth it, far more value to mankind than manning the  stockroom!


I will not be surprised when I learn you are the new Chairman of your department!  When and if you decide to leave academia you would make a wonderful businessman!


Your courage would serve you well as a fireman or policeman as well!


I think you are too manly to ever become a steward for a airline.


Who knows you might some day serve as a congressman!!!


In closing, as I face the daily challenges in American culture, it is comforting to know that someone is looking into the truly critical and pressing needs of mankind!  A big Atta Boy, Professor!!!




a common man

12 Responses

  1. Jerry R says:

    Man! That was a good response.

    Maybe I am too old for today’s society, but in using the term “mankind” or “policeman” I refer to the generic human being. I don’t believe in discrimination on the basis of sex; however, I don’t believe re-defining words or concepts really promotes any cause other that a misguided insecure one. Ladies and gentlemen alike are part of mankind without any sexual discrimination in my mind.

    Jerry R

  2. Michael Early says:

    I’m just glad I’m getting old and won’t be around in a while (hopefully a long while – but I am lot closer to being gone that I am to getting here).

    That said, wouldn’t “person” be a problem since it contains “son” which is obviously “male”?

  3. admin says:

    Love it!!!

  4. Jeff howe says:

    What a great response Bill. Very well done. With all the problems in the world and yet someone was paid to write this document for Purdue University.

  5. Dudley Hawthorne says:

    I love it. My retired wife who was an English teacher said she wished she was still teaching, because she you love to use your response in a lesson. LOVING IT!

  6. Dick Ginkowski says:

    Man, what a great response. People who try too hard to be “politically correct” seldom are.

    I understand the intent of the original project and it’s not entirely meritless. But at the same time we’ve gone from the image of “Father Knows Best” to Dad is an incompetent, violent, wife beating and child abusing moron. Men need to begin standing up again and being respected (but we must also be respectful and worthy of respect as well).

  7. Bill Fortney says:

    You’re right, respect is earned, but I do believe most of the men I know well have earned more than our society is willing to allow them!

    • And, of course, if common sense truly was common Wal-Mart would sell it, Target would have an upscale version, smart people would buy it at Dollar Tree and some folks would need the giant economy size at Sam’s Club or Costco! 🙂

  8. Myles says:

    Mr. Fortney,

    Thank you for your article. I also noticed the error of their logic relating to how to change personifications to fit the neutral description of terms. They say to replace mankind with human. But huMAN has man in it too. We can’t have that, its too gender specific. I propose the following change.

    Change human to hu-person. But, that could also lead to hue-person which would designate a color. You can’t do that either. Hmm… oh, I know. We’ll use multi-hue person. Wait, that might offend those with Vitiligo. I guess, maybe I’ll just start saying, “hey, you”.

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