Berkeley Bans “Manholes”

Good luck trying to find a manhole in Berkeley. Such terms are now expressly banned in all municipal codes as “male-centric.” People are now expected to refer to “maintenance holes.” Of course, you also cannot ask for more “manpower” to work in the “maintenance holes.” Instead you are to refer to “human effort” rather than “manpower.”

I think it is generally a good idea to try to avoid the use of gendered pronouns in regulations and laws. However, there are also some terms like manpower which are considered by most people to already be gender neutral in common use. “Human effort” is pretty awkward in sentences like “the emergency fund can be used to increase human effort under exigent circumstances.” Other terms like “chairman” can more easily replaced with “chairperson” but again the term is not taken literally by most people.

Nevertheless, this is a popular cause with those who police language. Berkeley City Council member Rigel Robinson, the bill’s primary author declared “There’s power in language. This is a small move, but it matters.” My guess is that it matters more politically than anything else.

Moreover, the change is meant to also bring regulations and laws in conformity with “non-binary individuals” by removing pronouns. Again the assumption is that common terms are literal when most people already treat them as neutral. As Robinson stated “Having a male-centric municipal code is inaccurate and not reflective of our reality. Women and non-binary individuals are just as entitled to accurate representation. Our laws are for everyone, and our municipal code should reflect that.”

What do you think?

41 thoughts on “Berkeley Bans “Manholes””

  1. Berkeley has always been just that…Berkeley. It is the extreme of the extreme in the “pc” thinking.

    Most CA-ers don’t agree with the Berkeley ideas.

    I saw this headline and rolled my eyes. GTFOH, Berkeley…

  2. It’s good to know that Berkeley doesn’t have any real problems to deal with. Like, you know, violent mobs running amok in streets or stuff like that.

  3. There is such a thing as the bridge you choose to die on. As a liberal I can tell you this aint it for me. Human Effort and Maintenance Holes are so unnatural and long that they may as well have just made it womanpower and womanholes (though on second thought the latter may give off an unintended sexual connotation). At least it would be easier to remember if a bit lengthier. Romantic languages have gender specific words. La Escuala, La Biblioteca, El Agua, La Gente etc. In english the use of manpower may come off as gender specific but I don’t believe that’s how it was intended. More in reference to mankind, as in all humans. But I suppose those could be considered gender specific too to extremists. I’m fine with womankind but huwoman is wierd.

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