Focus Point - A Language LapseCommentary by Pete du Pont
May 26, 2000
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. There's a case of language abuse I'd like to draw your attention to, spotted mostly recently in an op-ed by Sylvia Hewlett in the New York Times. I'm not picking on Hewlett; her's was just the most recent place I caught the error.
Indeed, I liked her article, which showed how the wage gap isn't the result of a male conspiracy but of the economic penalties of motherhood. But here's the sentence that caught my eye: "it now seems that this gap has little to do with gender and everything to do with children."
But Hewlett doesn't mean "gender." She means "sex."
As Webster's Third International, and practically any other dictionary, will tell you, "gender" is a term from linguistics distinguishing masculine and feminine parts of speech. But we've given in to the politically correct academic jargon, and deprived the language of one more piece of plain speaking. I know it's a small thing, but when was the last time this society was reluctant to talk about sex?
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas, and plain English, can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you next time.