Mostly unknowingly, we bring segregation based on sex into our conversations. While this may not amount to sexism, it creates or cements a distinction between men and women which may later influence one’s thoughts or actions. If the distinction has positive effects, it may be ignored, but that’s not the case.
Mark: Hey Sara, wanna have some sweets?
Sara: Absolutely! What’s special today?
Mark: A girl in our team just returned from her native place. She requested me whether I could distribute these to the others around.
Distributing sweets is a kind thing to do but my point is, there is certainly no need to mention “girl”; he could have said “one of my team members” or “a person in my team”. Had he said “a guy in our team”, it would have amounted to same uncalled distinction.
Another example could be the way we talk about female actors. In our vocabulary, Meryl Streep is an actress, so is Priyanka Chopra, they are not actors. When we talk about a person who acts, is it required to point out whether that person is a man, woman, or someone else? Of course, when distinction is required, it’s all right and appropriate; the Oscar for the best actor has to be given under male and female categories, but what about situations where the sex of the person doesn’t matter at all, like every conversations? I have even heard the usage murderess, for a woman murderer. You kill, you are a killer, how does your sex matter?
So what’s the big deal? What is not-so-right about calling men men and women women? First of all, it is unnecessary. One need not say “my female neighbour” or “my male driver”. Neighbour and driver will do, so do team mate and actor. Secondly, it may reinforce the already existing gender segregation. The problem with this part is, is it what the world needs today? Do we need something that widens the gender-based distinction or something that bridges it?