Another gender-specific noun has fallen foul of the woke worders. The Marylebone Cricket Club, founded in 1787 and originally the governing body of the noble game of English cricket, has declared that a batsman can no longer be called a batsman. The person holding the bat must now be called a batter. The gender-neutral camp has bowled out the term saying that many women now play cricket and, clearly, cannot describe themselves as batsmen. Hence, batsman and batswoman will now be collectively referred to as batters. Where will it end? Are we seeing the final days of any noun ending in man? Let’s take a look at the options for neutralising a gender-specific noun?
1. We could simply create a woman version e.g., businessman/businesswoman, and accept that replacing man with woman is a reasonable way of pleasing both camps. Many man words have taken this path although I wonder how those who tick the Prefer Not To Answer box when asked to reveal their gender feel about this? Should we also create a trans (transgender) version of a word e.g., businesstrans? I’m not aware of any such trans words relating to a profession but I’m sure it will happen soon.
2. We could replace the man ending with a gender-neutral synonymic alternative such as being, person, mortal, individual, soul or human (dodgy, that one; huperson?). Person has become very popular e.g., spokesperson instead of spokesman or spokeswoman. Similarly, ombudsperson and salesperson.
3. We could replace the offending gender-specific noun with one that does not infer gender. There are many websites advising on such alternatives. Examples are: policeman/law enforcer or police officer, fireman/firefighter, binman/garbage collector, husband or wife becomes partner or significant other, chairman becomes a chair (I like that one!), mailman/postal worker, and can you believe pibling and nibling for uncle/aunt, and nephew/niece respectively? A family gathering of your children with their uncles, aunts and cousins will soon be called a pibling, nibling and sibling gathering or, possibly, a fibling.
4. Or we could go the humorous route. Consider these changes to well-known movie titles:
Batbeing, Caveperson, Lawsoul, Spidermortal, Superperson, Tarzan, The Ape Soul, The Bird Being of Alcatraz, The Boogeysoul, The Candyperson, The Icesoul (careful how you say that), The Sandmortal, The Snownonhuman, and Stuntperson.
What about proper nouns ending in man? If your name is Chapman, should you change it to Chapperson, pronounced Chapper-son, not Chap-person? Should a Doberman dog be renamed Dobernonhuman or Dobersoul, not to be confused with a Dover sole? In the 2014 movie, Fury, should Brad Pitt be the commander of a Shersoul tank? Does Sony now regret calling their late-’70s portable cassette player a Walkman? Should a Pullman railway carriage be renamed a Pullperson or Pullhuman carriage? In the 2013 movie, The Wolverine, did Hugh Jackman portray a wolfman or was it Hugh Jackperson playing a wolfnonhuman? Take pity on the poor dot-eating Pac-Man for he must now be known as Pac-Person! And, finally, if you are a titman (no, not what you are thinking; a titman is a person who is stunted physically or mentally), you will now be known as a titsoul. The word has a ring to it!
Finally, to avoid confusion with the increased use of the word batter in cricket, it has been suggested that batter, meaning a flour, egg and milk mixture used in cooking, should be renamed fem (from flour egg and milk) but the wokers pointed out that fem could be construed as being an abbreviated form of feminine. Hence, batter as used in cooking will now be known as mef. Enjoy your beer-meffed fish and chips.
Once again, I am indebted to the wonderful Word Hippo website. The Hippo found 957 words ending in man with some stretching out to 14-letters (coastguardsman, handicraftsman), and others I was tempted to play with—the inhabitants of Oman, for example; or whether the Ottoman empire should be renamed; and the religious/spiritual brahmans and shamans. Oh man; what fun. Sorry! Oh person; what fun.