Gender-neutral language ‘disappears’ men and masculinity.

Unpublished letter to The Guardian, 16 04 2014

People, foreign insurgents, extremists, foreign fighters, individuals (Social media used to recruit new wave of British jihadis,16 04 2014); Syria recruits, questionners, youngsters, Britons, jiadis (Syria recruits feared to be terrorists of the future (16 04 2014). All these words are gender-neutral, therefore misleading; acts of misrepresentation, because in these reports they are all different words for men, without acknowledging that fact.

The persistent use of such gender-neutral nouns contributes to the masking of men’s gendered presence, behaviour and dominance, for example in conflicts and war zones. And the lethal consequences of this masculinity and its distinctive role in these zones continue to be disregarded, bypassed, normalised as ‘natural’ and inevitable. Left unchallenged yet again.

val walsh



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