Berkeley city council scraps 'manhole' for 'maintenance hole,' gendered words in municipal code

UC Berkeley
(Photo: UC Berkeley/Keegan Houser)

The city of Berkeley is scrapping the word "man" from words like "manpower" and "manhole," eliminating "any gender preference language" within the municipal code.

Words like "she" and "he" will now be replaced with "they," the new measure, which was approved last week, stipulates. Terms like "manpower" and "manhole" have been altered to "workforce" and "maintenance hole," multiple reports say.

“Fireman” or “firewoman” will now be the non-gendered “firefighter.” "Heirs" will now be called "beneficiaries." Instead of "craftsmen," the city code will now say "craftspeople" or "artisans."

On page eight of the Berkeley gender neutral language ordinance it is noted that other phrases commonly found in the existing code like "men and women" is to be replaced with "people" and the former phrase "the masculine pronoun includes the feminine" has now been changed to "words referring to a specific gender may be extended to any other gender."

Councilman Rigel Robinson, who is 23 and a recent graduate of UC Berkeley, was the sponsor of the ordinance, and said he spent his university years expanding his knowledge of gender.

“Gender-neutral language creates a lot of room to acknowledge that it’s not just men running the country,” Robinson said.

“As society and our cultures become more aware about issues of gender identity and gender expression, it’s important that our laws reflect that,” he said. “Women and non-binary people are just as deserving of accurate representation.”

The de-gendered updates to the municipal code come on the heels of another change earlier this year. In February, the city of Berkeley allowed its employees to opt to have their pronouns of choice on their name badges.

In other noticeable ways, California is adopting new-fangled gender terminology. The Associated Press noted that Gov. Gavin Newsom's wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, changed her title from "first lady" to "first partner."

The visibility of gender ideology has also increased on the national stage. In recent days and weeks, Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Bill DeBlasio, and Julian Castro, have all publicly indicated their preferred pronouns on their social media platforms.

Though the new terms are presented as more "inclusive," some have been warning that the advance of gender ideology, particularly its overhaul of language, amounts to the erasure of "sex" in law and culture and that has profound consequences.

Writer and propaganda expert Stella Morabito explained in a 2016 essay in The Public Discourse that the new gender lingo targets sex, and de-sexing society yields a de-humanized society. "Gender," she stressed, is an ambiguous term, a deceptive tool that manipulates reality.

"'Gender' is merely the politicized linguistic vehicle that facilitates a legal ban on sex distinctions. There aren’t a whole lot of dots to connect to uncover the logic of where this leads: if you abolish sex distinctions in law, you can abolish state recognition of biological family ties, and the state can regulate personal relationships and consolidate power as never before."

"We’re being pushed to 'evolve' rapidly from laws that seem to allow male-female distinctions to laws that will categorically reject those distinctions in the not-too-distant future," she said at the time, noting that some federal forms already reflect such changes having removed “mother” and “father.”

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