Urge Washington to Make Legal Language Gender-Neutral

Target: Washington governor Jay Inslee

Goal: Eliminate male-centric language from technical documents and job titles in the state of Washington.

The state of Washington is currently in the process of considering a bill that will eliminate male-centric language when it comes to job titles and laws, changing such words as “ombudsman” to “ombuds” and “dairyman” to “dairy farmer.” It is even considering changing the names of words like “manhole” (to “utility hole”) and “manlock” (to “air lock serving as a decompression chamber for workers”). This represents a positive step toward equality for the state, as it eliminates the inherent superiority of men implied by the name of their gender being used in the title of the position. Given this fact, Washington’s step in this direction should be commended and encouraged.

The argument against this change is twofold; namely, both appealing to tradition (given that that’s how the titles have always been) and questioning the proper usage of government time (given that the state government is spending time changing the language of its laws, rather than creating new jobs or legislation or the like). This counterargument falls apart on both levels; hard rigidity in the face of positive social change is never a good thing, and when the genuine opportunity exists for an old tradition to be changed for the good (as is the case, given that women make up a significantly larger part of the workforce than they did when these jobs were originally named), change should absolutely be made. Additionally, this is absolutely a positive use of government time and effort; the re-defining of the language of laws creates a stronger environment of equality, and helps to move America toward the idea of oneness that it was originally based on.

The bill has nearly moved on to the Senate at this point. Therefore, it is important to keep encouraging high-ranking state officials to support the bill to prevent it from losing momentum. The conditions that would change as a result of the successfully passed bill (as it currently stands) are too positive to potentially lose.


Dear Governor Inslee,

Your government is currently in the process of passing a bill that will eliminate gender-specific language in your state’s laws and job titles. This represents a positive step toward equality for your state, and for society as a whole. Given this fact, it is imperative that you continue to support the bill and not allow it to lose momentum.

There are those who do not support the bill, but these people represent a mindset that is firmly rooted in the past and is afraid to acknowledge the changes that have taken place in the world. Women make up a much more considerable portion of the work force than they did when these job titles were originally put into place, and therefore it no longer makes much sense to approach them from purely a male point of view. Changing the language is an absolutely necessary step toward breaking down gender barriers and establishing equality.

Keep the momentum going for this bill, and don’t stop encouraging it. Your state will be a better place for it, and your people will definitely feel happier and more at peace upon its passing. Keep up the fight against inequality, governor.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Jay Inslee via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. Frankly, neutralizing legal language should have happened a long time ago. There’s never been a good reason to label certain objective, inanimate things masculine or feminine, and there’s definitely no longer a good reason to label certain job titles masculine or feminine either.

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