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Mind your language: It is ‘persongo’ not ‘mango’

UN Women sparked a fierce gender war last week, the type one sometimes hears on Maina Kageni and Mwalimu King’angi’s Classic 105 FM morning radio show. UN Women is the global agency for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

In a tweet that went viral, UN Women said, “Use your language to fight gender bias with gender-neutral expressions!” But that organisation is called UN Women. How gender neutral is that? Anyway, here are some of the gender-neutral words they proposed:

Mankind (humankind), chairman (chair), congressman (legislator), businessman (representative), policeman (police officer), landlord (owner), boyfriend/girlfriend (partner).

So, never say: My landlord wants rent. Instead say: My owner wants rent.

The sharp reactions that followed this anti-sexist campaign forced UN Women to hastily delete the tweet.

Apparently, the idea was to tell people to use words that do not have “man” or “men” in them.

That would put journalists into a particularly tight spot.

Don’t write or say “mango”. It has “man” in it. Replace with “person”. That means mango becomes “persongo”. Hellen is having menstruation? No. Personstruation. What about menopause or hymen?

The pronoun or language “German” must change too. Your office will no longer have a manager. That’s sexist. Try “personger”.

“Mentor” will disappear, as will “manamba”. To be fully gender neutral, don’t say “mother” because it has “her” at the end. So she becomes “moth”.

Hilarious stuff! And never ever support Man U if you want to fight gender bias.

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