Forget genitals, build bridges instead

Build bridges, figuratively speaking

Photo: agefotostock / IMAGO

Vof people and people is the name of a book that has recently been published by Springer-Wissenschaftsverlag - on the very topic about which almost everything has already been said. But not nearly as analytical and entertaining as Fabian Payr's.

For example here: How do you actually change the Basic Law? It says in Article 3, Paragraph 3: “Nobody is allowed because of his Gender, its Ancestry, its Race, its Language, its Homeland and origin, his Belief, its religious or political beliefs are disadvantaged or preferred. Nobody is allowed to its Disability disadvantages. ”What can be changed about it? Apart from the concept of race? The pronoun “nobody” just asks for the generic masculine, as does “someone”, “man” or “who”. Example: Who forgot their book in the library? Payr writes: "It is difficult to understand why these pronouns are also suspected of cementing patriarchy, as everyone understands them directly as gender-neutral." There is often no sensible alternative to the generic or inclusive masculine. For example: “Angela Merkel is the eighth Federal Chancellor since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany.” The word “Federal Chancellor” is unmarked in this context and is therefore gender-neutral in the grammatical sense. The fact that more girls and women can imagine becoming Chancellor one day than they did in the XNUMXs has nothing to do with the artificial language change, but simply with Angela Merkel as a role model.

Language has the task of depicting reality. And history is also part of reality: with Benno Ohnesorg from West Berlin, there was no dying student lying on the floor near the Deutsche Oper on June 2, 1967. The revolt of his fellow students was supposed to change the country - precisely because they weren't just students, but students who had neglected the university for a while. The participle describes a person who is doing an activity at the moment, while the noun “student” describes a social status.

After decades of debate, says Fabian Payr, there are no reliable scientific arguments in favor of gender. This applies to the alleged invisibility of women in German, which cannot be proven either linguistically or with psycholinguistic studies, but also the conviction that language activists believe that social conditions can be improved through language intervention.

In practice, gender has no demonstrable benefit, on the contrary: gender is counterproductive because many perceive it to be aggressive and patronizing. It emphasizes the differences between the sexes rather than overcoming them. The main benefit is the signal effect: people demonstrate their political reliability when speaking and writing. At the level of communication, however, gender seems rather dysfunctional, as it distracts from the essentials. Or, as the writer Nele Pollatschek says: Germany is obsessed with genitals.

Gender is reduced to their biological gender. Where is this supposed to lead? The linguistic division intensifies the social division in society. Language is becoming a stigma: the elite are changing, talking with asterisks in the feminine, while proletarians and Hartz IV recipients are also seen as lagging in their words.

Perhaps it should be the task of the media to at least bridge the linguistic divide in society. Journalists as bridge builders.

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