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?