Oxfam erases “mother” and “father” in new language guide

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British charity Oxfam released its Inclusive Language Guide, which, among other things, discourages staff from using the words “mother” and “father” across websites, media, and other forms of content.

The 92-page document has chapters on gender justice, sexual diversity, race, power, decolonization, women’s rights, feminist principles, physical and mental health, migration, and disability.

The guide tells staff to “avoid assuming the adoption of gendered roles by transgender parents.”

Oxfam says that the terms “mother” or “father” shouldn’t be used unless specifically preferred by the couple – and that the term “parent” should be used instead.

“The important principle here is to be inclusive in the broader sense by describing people as ‘parents,’ but if individual parents have a preference for a role name, to respect their choice.”

The guide also advises staff to avoid other offensive words and phrases, like “sex worker” instead of “prostitute,” “social norms,” “social beliefs,” or “collective beliefs” in place of “attitudes” or “behaviors,” “humankind” in place of “mankind” and “AFAB” and “AMAB” (assigned female/male at birth) instead of “biological male” and “biological female,” according to a report by The Telegraph.

The word “headquarters” should not be used as it “implies a power dynamic that prioritizes one office over another. In the context in which we work the implication is very colonial, reinforcing hierarchical power issues and a top-down approach.”

The guide also says that the term “minority ethnic person” should replace “ethnic minority” because it “places the emphasis on that ethnicity being a minority or having less power in a particular context, rather than the ethnicity itself being a minority.”

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