Here's something you'll like.
The European Parliament (which I visited with my colleage Jonathan Isaby this week; more later) has announced its intention to use gender-neutral language. Harald Romer, Secretary-General of the European Parliament, writes:
"The European Parliament is committed to using gender-neutral language in its publications and communications and is now the first of the institutions to provide language-specific guidance on gender-neutral language in all the Community's working languages. Drawn up by a working group under the auspices of Parliament's High-Level Group on Gender Equality, these guidelines were the fruit of long and close collaboration among the relevant linguistic services and provide suggestions and examples for each specific working language
I now invite all colleagues to read the guidelines in their working languages and apply them in all parliamentary publications and written communications."
An immense effort has been made to avoid offence, and it would be childish to pour scorn on it by highlighting some of the more absurd examples.
These are some of the more absurd examples:
'Synthetic artificial' as an alternative to 'man-made';
"Omit the pronoun altogether' ('an official's salary is dependant on
his length of service')";
If it's impossible to avoid then "use 'he or she', but do so sparingly and avoid repeating it more than once in the same sentence.";
'Business person', rather than businessman;
"'Chairperson' should be avoided, as the tendency has been to use it only when referring to women. 'Chair' should be used consistently for both sexes";
'Midwife' "for both sexes; there is no accepted alternative for male midwives".
The guidance generously acknowledges that "the major cultural differences in this area between different European languages" have the impact of making it "impossible to harmonise usage fully within the European Parliament". That will come as a relief to French and German speakers, who assign genders to inanimate objects.
One of the charming gals in East Midlands MEP Roger Helmer's office forwarded me a copy of his letter to Hans-Gert Pottering MEP, the President of the European Parliament: