‘Grandfather,’ ‘Housekeeping’ Considered Problematic in UW University Language Guide

The University of Washington’s “inclusive language guide” released in December labels words like “grandfather” and “housekeeping” as “problematic,” calling them “racist,” “sexist,” “ageist,” or “homophobic,” Fox News reported Sunday.

In addition, the guide, put out by the university’s Information Technology department, states that “preferred pronouns” are problematic, because it suggests that “a person’s pronoun is optional.”

“Grandfather” is considered a “problematic word,” for example, because it was “used as a way to exempt some people from a change because of conditions that existed before the change,” with the guide explaining that the ‘grandfather clause’ originated in the American South in the 1890s as a way to “defy the 15th Amendment and prevent black Americans from voting.”

“Housekeeping” is also considered problematic by the guide because it can “feel gendered,” adding that phrases such as “manpower,” “man hours,” or “man-in-the-middle” are “not inclusive” and “thus sexist.”

Other everyday words considered problematic are, for example, “lame” because the word is “ableist.”

The guide further details that, even when used in slang for “uncool,” the word is offensive, “because it’s using a disability in a negative way to imply that the opposite, which would be not lame, to be superior.”

The guide also states that the term “minority” is problematic, because it implies a “less than” attitude toward a certain community.

The guide is not only meant to serve as a way to use proper language, according to Fox News, but employees of the university’s IT department are also emboldened to contact vendors who use the “problematic words and phrases” and request that they avoid terms that come from “racist, ableist and/or sexist origins.”

The guide even provides a sample prompt to use when sending emails connected to the issue, stating that “unfortunately, in working with your product/service we have identified language that can be considered offensive due to its racist, ableist and/or sexist origins. Can you let us know what efforts you are undertaking to move away from this language so as to create a more inclusive product/service?”

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