Hull University Students Marked Down for Using Words Like ‘Manpower’ and ‘Man-Made’

A gender neutral sign is posted outside a bathroom on May 11, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina
Sarah D. Davis / Getty

Students at Hull University were told recently that will be marked down if they fail to use “gender-neutral” language in their writing assignments.

A document obtained by reporters reveals that students at Hull University in Hull, England, were warned that they could be punished if they used gendered language like “manpower” or “fireman” in their academic writing. The document asked students to “be aware of the powerful and symbolic nature of language and use gender-sensitive formulations. Failure to use gender-sensitive language will impact your mark.”

“Should any student use language which is not deemed gender-neutral, they will be offered feedback as to why. Deduction of marks is taken on a case-by-case basis,” the document continued.

The school warns against the use of terms like “gentleman’s agreement,” “right-hand man” and “forefathers,” because they allegedly advance gender normalities.

Hull University certainly isn’t the first university to coerce their students into using “gender-neutral” language. In August 2016, Princeton University asked students to stop using the word “man.”
According to the Princeton inclusive language memo, the “gender binary is the traditional view on human gender, which does not take into consideration individuals who identify as otherwise, including and not limited to transgender, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and/or intersex.”

The guide advised students to eliminate the use of gendered pronouns all-together. How would that work? It’s simple, Princeton administrators explained. Students should just use plural pronouns like “they” instead of gendered pronouns like “he” or “she.”

Eliminate the pronoun altogether. Example: Each employee is expected to turn in his annual disclosure form by the deadline. Revised: Employees are expected to turn in the annual disclosure forms by the deadline. Example: The incumbent is expected to edit a variety of documents. She must also prepare weekly updates. Revised: The incumbent is expected to edit a variety of documents and must also prepare a weekly update.


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