'Manholes' are out as Berkeley removes gender-specific language from city code

Clay Curtis
July 19, 2019

"Language has power. The words we use are important", Robinson said regarding his motion. Other terms that will be changed out include bondsman (bonds-person), brother and sister (sibling), maiden (family), manhole (maintenance hole), male and female (people of different genders) and master (captain, skipper, pilot, safety officer or central, depending on context).

The University of California, Berkeley, was once known as the birthplace of the 1960s free-speech movement, but violent protests against conservative speakers on campus in recent years seemingly put a blemish on the school's lofty status as a haven for unfettered expression.

In the text of the measure, the authors explained that they believed updating the city code "by eliminating any gender preference language" will "promote equality".

"Tonight, Berkeley City Council adopted first reading of an ordinance responding to my proposal revising the municipal code to include gender neutral pronouns", Robinson wrote. Heirs will be changed to beneficiaries.

KTVU reported they found a mixed reaction to the gender-neutral changes. "Manhole" will now be "maintenance hole". "I'm sure it wouldn't hurt anybody", Erin Davis told the station.

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Berkeley has also instituted some other changes. "Come on. Enough is enough", Andrew Haits remarked.

Over two dozen commonly used expressions will be changed under the new guidelines, which will replace the previous municipal code that predominantly used "he" (which has now been replaced with "they").

"They come up with these cockamamie things all the time", said an unidentified older resident. For example, if an attorney is mentioned, they will always be referred to as "the attorney" - not a gender pronoun such as him or her. Sororities and fraternities will now go by "Collegiate Greek system residence" and a pregnant woman will be referred to as a "pregnant employee".

According to NBC News, the measure will be reviewed again next week, and changes would go into effect in late August.

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