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"Penmanship" is now 'handwriting' as Washington state removes gender bias in statutes

Posted by on Apr. 22, 2013 at 10:01 PM
  • 41 Replies



"Penmanship" is now 'handwriting' as Washington state removes gender bias in statutes


SEATTLE | Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:19pm EDT

(Reuters) - Washington state's governor signed into law on Monday the final piece of a six-year effort to rewrite state laws using gender-neutral vocabulary, replacing terms such as "fisherman" and "freshman" with "fisher" and "first-year student."

Lawmakers have passed a series of bills since 2007 to root out gender bias from Washington statutes, though a 1983 state mandate required that all laws be written in gender-neutral terms unless a specification of gender was intended.

"This was a much larger effort than I had envisioned. Mankind means man and woman," said Democratic state Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles of Seattle.

The new gender-neutral references, for example, include "journey-level plumber" instead of "journeyman plumber," "handwriting" in place of "penmanship," and "signal operator" for "signalman."

"There's no good reason for keeping our legal terms anachronistic and with words that do not respect our current contemporary times," Kohl-Welles, the 475-page bill's sponsor, told Reuters.

Several words, however, aren't easy to replace, said Kyle Thiessen, the state's code reviser, who heads up the 40-staff Washington Code Reviser's Office agency.

The state likely won't change the words "airmen" and "seaman," for example, because of objections by the state's Washington Military Department, he said.

Civil engineering terms such as "man hole" and "man lock," also will not be changed because no common-sense substitutes could easily be found, Thiessen said.

Nearly 3,500 Washington state code sections, out of a total of about 40,000 have been tediously scrubbed of gender bias, although most involve adding pronouns "she" and "her" to augment the existing "he" and "his," Thiessen said.

The bill passed the Democrat-controlled state House 70-22 on April 9 and unanimously cleared the state Senate on February 8 before being signed by Democratic Governor Jay Inslee.

Washington state is the nation's fourth to boast of eliminating gender bias from its official lexicon, following in the footsteps of Florida, North Carolina and Illinois, Kohl-Welles said.

Other states that have passed gender-neutral constitutional mandates include California, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Utah, Kohl-Welles said. At least nine other states are currently considering gender-neutral legislation, she said.

"Words matter," said Liz Watson, a National Women's Law Center senior adviser. "This is important in changing hearts and minds."

by on Apr. 22, 2013 at 10:01 PM
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Replies (1-10):
FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Apr. 22, 2013 at 10:03 PM
1 mom liked this

Ridiculous.

maciymommieof3
by Silver Member on Apr. 22, 2013 at 10:06 PM

Yes......................totally and completely

Quoting FromAtoZ:

Ridiculous.


FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Apr. 22, 2013 at 10:08 PM
2 moms liked this


Quoting maciymommieof3:

Yes......................totally and completely

Quoting FromAtoZ:

Ridiculous.


Damn waste of resources.  Not too happy with the State I live in for this one.

toomanypoodles
by Ruby Member on Apr. 22, 2013 at 10:08 PM

 Oh bother...I live in a loonie state. 

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Apr. 22, 2013 at 10:10 PM


Quoting toomanypoodles:

 Oh bother...I live in a loonie state. 

You live in WA State?

toomanypoodles
by Ruby Member on Apr. 22, 2013 at 10:15 PM

 

Quoting FromAtoZ:


Quoting toomanypoodles:

 Oh bother...I live in a loonie state. 

You live in WA State?

 Yes ma'am.  Nearest big city is Tacoma. 

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Apr. 22, 2013 at 10:19 PM


Quoting toomanypoodles:

 

Quoting FromAtoZ:


Quoting toomanypoodles:

 Oh bother...I live in a loonie state. 

You live in WA State?

 Yes ma'am.  Nearest big city is Tacoma. 

I did not realize that.

I am in Spokane.

Spent 5 weeks in Lakewood.  Oh my.  That place worried me during the day and literally scared me at night.  I was on the base.

Tacoma.............I think I had my fill of the Tacoma Mall to last me a life time.  lol

toomanypoodles
by Ruby Member on Apr. 22, 2013 at 10:21 PM

 

Quoting FromAtoZ:


Quoting toomanypoodles:

 

Quoting FromAtoZ:


Quoting toomanypoodles:

 Oh bother...I live in a loonie state. 

You live in WA State?

 Yes ma'am.  Nearest big city is Tacoma. 

I did not realize that.

I am in Spokane.

Spent 5 weeks in Lakewood.  Oh my.  That place worried me during the day and literally scared me at night.  I was on the base.

Tacoma.............I think I had my fill of the Tacoma Mall to last me a life time.  lol

 Lakewood is scary.  I don't go into Tacoma much, everything I need is in the quieter town of Puyallup. 

BookMama3
by on Apr. 22, 2013 at 10:22 PM

confused Seriously? 

illinoismommy83
by Bronze Member on Apr. 22, 2013 at 10:24 PM

I'm a feminist and I write an excessive amount of papers from a feminist perspective in school. That said, I would never thought words like freshman or penmanship had anything at all to do with gender.

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