“Be responsible of your words and actions” might be common advice given to implement morals and respect towards peers, elders, teachers, and superiors, because words reflect your thoughts, and your words reflect how people perceive you. The power of language can get you elected into office, fired from a job, broken hearted, and much more. Language has a direct effect on your surroundings for every word said, because the meaning of words are analyzed through emotions, and emotions drive attitudes, and therefore, actions.

Language has evolved through time with slang terms with the objective of creating words or phrases for new feelings, terms, or objects that lacked description. It keeps evolving, because through societal progress, new ideas come to existence, and to exist, they need to be incorporated in the vocabulary.

Nowadays, within the new wave of intersectional feminism, there are feminists who believe that language is sexist and excluding towards the female and non-binary population. Their objective is to implement inclusive forms in all languages that use gender-neutral vocabulary when addressing others. Their argument is based on grammatical techniques found in the majority of languages, specifically, where the plural form is always masculine, and excludes half of the population (plus non-binary people).

Another argument, and probably the most important one, is the association of male-centered words with power, while its gender opposite is usually depicted in diminishing insults. Many sociologists and language experts believe that these associations can be the fundamental causes of disparities within societal gender relations, which may translate into gender violence.

Finally, in the liberation age of the 21st century, more people have come across the fact that they do not fit in any gender, and define themselves as non-binary people. They want their identity to be reflected through language, by asking others to refer to them in inclusive pronouns: they, them, and theirs.

Hence, the tendency to make language more inclusive aims to ensure that all identities feel included in colloquial conversations, but usually creates conflict with people that believe that language has an organic structure and is not necessarily sexist.

To find out about the attitudes present at IE University, a survey was given to 50 IE students to see their positions are on the topic.

More than 73% of the people stated that they spoke more than two languages with a majority of English, Spanish, and French speaking — Romantic languages: male-centered language.

When asked if they have ever felt excluded for their gender, nearly 42% of the people answered yes. Approximately 40% of the respondents identified as male, and 60% as female, and none as non-binary. Also, 36% of the students believe that language is sexist whilst 63% believe that is not.

To find out more about the attitudes, the 36% were given an open-ended question to explain why they thought language was sexist. These are some answers that reflect the student’s opinions:

“There are many things inherent in our languages that demonstrate the machista paradigms that many of our cultures were founded upon. Plurals always tend towards males, and mannerisms additionally (another part of linguistics) serve to exclude in many occasions,” said one student.

More than 73% of the people stated that they spoke more than two languages with a majority of English, Spanish, and French speaking — Romantic languages: male-centered language.

“In romantic languages, many words are only used referring to men. For example, several professions are only accepted in their “male” form. For example, it is correct to say Presidente in Spanish, but incorrect to say Presidenta,” said another one, “The Real Academia Española, the institution which determines and constitutes the Spanish language, says its an “aberration” to change words like that because Spanish comes from Latin, and it would be incorrect according to Latin to say Presidenta.”

Interestingly enough, a clear majority of the students stated that they were not aware of the term “inclusive language”. However, the ones who did, were tasked on elaborating their views if they believed that by using inclusive language, society would become more equal.

In romantic languages, many words are only used referring to men. For example, several professions are only accepted in their “male” form. For example, it is correct to say Presidente in Spanish, but incorrect to say Presidenta.

“Yes, I do believe so, but getting everyone to change their language and changing the vernacular of the “linguas francas” is quite hard, so I don’t know how feasible it would be,” said one respondent.

“No, I think the way we address people has little to do with how one identifies. Lately, people are often offended if they are not referred to with specific pronouns, but I believe this does not speak of equality or inequality, it’s simply a way language has been constructed and evolved through history.”

Some responded that introducing language will not serve as a solution to equalize the genders.

“I don’t think that this is necessary. While some languages like Spanish and French have the masculinization of the plural as soon as one male is in the group, I don’t think that this is what we should be concerned about and would be a classic example of battling purely against the perceived symptoms of the problem,” elaborated one student,”Societies with a real problem of gender inequality should rather try to tackle the roots of this by education, public awareness and other measures that boost the understanding and relationship between the genders. Forcing measures like this will only polarize the different stakeholders more and will not result in more harmony, fairness and equality.”

Some had a fervent opinion on the inclusivity.

“No. It just annoys people, making them dislike trannies even more. The transgender community makes up such a small percentage of the population, but because they scream the loudest everybody is supposed to change their behavior?”

Others stated that eradication of gender-based phrases would help battle the gender disparities.

“I think that eradicating expressions that are gender-based can help the new generations to see a more equal society. However, there are grammar rules that exist and should be respected.”

All in all, language is a very moldable tool, which everyone uses to express their feelings, opinions, and attitudes. It is an individual decision how to use their freedom of speech. However, if society is molded by its culture, and society can mold language, why not break the barriers of gender-exclusive words, and start using more inclusive terms that helps to bring half of the population into the conversation? After all, a word is just a word.