How Language Shapes Perception: Why Using Inclusive Terminology Matters

January 27, 2024

Well, hello there! Today I'm going to talk about how something as simple as the words we use can shape our perception of the world around us. And let me tell you, it's a real doozy!

But don't worry, this isn't going to be some boring grammar lesson. We're talking about inclusive language here, people! That means using words that include everyone instead of just a select few. It's like magic, but with words!

So buckle up and get ready for a wild ride through the fascinating world of linguistic influence on society. Trust me, by the end of this article you'll be so woke your head will spin!

How Language Shapes Perception Why Using Inclusive Terminology Matters

Did You Know?

  • Workplace Discrimination: According to a survey by Glassdoor (2019), around 61% of U.S. employees witnessed or experienced discrimination based on age, race, gender, or LGBTQ+ identity at their place of work.
  • Gender Pay Gap: As per the World Economic Forum's 2020 report, the global gender pay gap is estimated to take 257 years to close.
  • Racial Disparities in Hiring: A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that resumes with traditionally white-sounding names received 50% more callbacks compared to those with African American-sounding names.
  • LGBTQ+ Discrimination: A survey by the Human Rights Campaign found that nearly one in two LGBTQ+ Americans reported facing discrimination in their personal life.
  • Disability Employment: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020) reported that the employment-population ratio for persons with a disability was 17.9%, significantly lower than for those without a disability (61.8%).

The Language on Perception

Who knew that something as simple as language could have such a profound impact on our perception of the world? I mean, it's not like we use words every day or anything.

But seriously, folks. Language has an incredible ability to shape how we see things around us. For example, if someone were to use derogatory language when talking about a particular group of people, it would undoubtedly influence the way others perceive them.

And don't even get me started on all those pesky stereotypes that are perpetuated through language! If we're constantly bombarded with phrases like "boys will be boys" or "women belong in the kitchen," it's no wonder these ideas become ingrained in our minds and affect our behavior.

The Language on Perception

The power of inclusive language can combat this negativity and help create a more accepting society for all. By using neutral terms instead of gendered ones or avoiding outdated terminology altogether, we can start to change perceptions and build a better future for everyone.

So let's embrace the power of words and work towards creating positive change through inclusive language!

20 Inclusive Expressions

  1. Non-Inclusive: "The Opposite Sex" / Inclusive Alternative: "Another Gender"
  2. Non-Inclusive: "Girlfriend/Boyfriend" / Inclusive Alternative: "Partner" or "Significant Other"
  3. Non-Inclusive: "Mothering/Fathering" / Inclusive Alternative: "Parenting"
  4. Non-Inclusive: "Congressman" / Inclusive Alternative: "Congressperson" or "Legislator"
  5. Non-Inclusive: "Businessman" / Inclusive Alternative: "Businessperson" or "Entrepreneur"
  6. Non-Inclusive: "Chairman" / Inclusive Alternative: "Chairperson" or "Chair"
  7. Non-Inclusive: "Mankind" / Inclusive Alternative: "Humankind" or "Humanity"
  8. Non-Inclusive: "Fireman" / Inclusive Alternative: "Firefighter"
  9. Non-Inclusive: "Policeman" / Inclusive Alternative: "Police Officer"
  10. Non-Inclusive: "Stewardess" / Inclusive Alternative: "Flight Attendant"
  11. Non-Inclusive: "Manpower" / Inclusive Alternative: "Workforce" or "Human Resources"
  12. Non-Inclusive: "Forefathers" / Inclusive Alternative: "Ancestors" or "Forebears"
  13. Non-Inclusive: "Freshman" / Inclusive Alternative: "First-Year Student"
  14. Non-Inclusive: "Salesman" / Inclusive Alternative: "Salesperson" or "Sales Associate"
  15. Non-Inclusive: "Waitress/Waiter" / Inclusive Alternative: "Server"
  16. Non-Inclusive: "Landlord" / Inclusive Alternative: "Property Manager" or "Housing Provider"
  17. Non-Inclusive: "Maiden Name" / Inclusive Alternative: "Birth Name" or "Family Name"
  18. Non-Inclusive: "Master Bedroom" / Inclusive Alternative: "Primary Bedroom" or "Main Bedroom"
  19. Non-Inclusive: "He/She" (when assuming gender) / Inclusive Alternative: "They" (as a singular pronoun) or "He/She/They"
  20. Non-Inclusive: "Disabled Person" / Inclusive Alternative: "Person with a Disability"

The Impact of Non-Inclusive Language

The impact of non-inclusive language - who doesn't love feeling excluded and marginalized? It's just so much fun to constantly be reminded that you don't belong or matter.

Using non-inclusive language not only perpetuates harmful stereotypes but also reinforces societal prejudices. But hey, why bother changing our behavior when we can just continue to make people feel inferior and unwelcome?

And forget about progress! Who needs it when we can stick to outdated terminology that promotes ignorance and discrimination? After all, change is hard - why put in the effort for something as trivial as treating others with respect?

But wait, there's more! Non-inclusive language isn't just a problem on an individual level; it can have major consequences on a larger scale too. From limiting opportunities for certain groups to hindering social progress, the effects are far-reaching and long-lasting.

So keep using those slurs and derogatory terms - because clearly making others feel small is worth holding onto archaic beliefs.

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Did You Know?

  • Age Discrimination: AARP's survey in 2020 indicated that approximately 78% of older workers saw or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.
  • Racial Health Disparities: The CDC reported that Black/African American individuals are more likely to suffer from hypertension, diabetes, and stroke compared to their white counterparts.
  • Gender Identity in Schools: GLSEN's 2019 National School Climate Survey showed that 59.1% of transgender students were forced to use a bathroom or locker room of their legal sex.
  • Religious Discrimination: Pew Research Center found that about one-third of Americans (32%) say Muslims face a lot of discrimination in the U.S. (2021).
  • Housing Discrimination: The National Fair Housing Alliance reported 28,712 complaints of housing discrimination in 2019 in the U.S., with the majority of these based on disability (58.6%) and race (19.7%).

The Inclusive Language in Society

I mean, who wouldn't want to spend their time talking about pronouns and gender-neutral terms?

But in all seriousness (or lack thereof), the way we use language can have a profound impact on how others perceive us and our values. Using inclusive language is not just some trendy buzzword that will disappear next year - it's an important step towards creating a more accepting and tolerant society.

By using gender-neutral terms like "they" instead of assuming someone's gender, we are acknowledging that people come in all shapes and sizes (metaphorically speaking). It shows that we don't automatically assign labels to people based on their appearance or assumed identity.

Inclusive language also extends beyond just gender - it includes race, sexual orientation, ability/disability, age, religion...the list goes on. By being mindful of the words we use when referring to these groups of people, we are showing them respect and inclusivity.

Sure, some might argue that this is all political correctness gone mad. But at its core, using inclusive language is simply about treating others with kindness and empathy. And who doesn't want more of that in our world?


Did You Know?

  • Income Inequality: The World Inequality Report 2018 noted that the top 1% of earners globally captured twice as much of the global income growth as the bottom 50% of the world population.
  • Education Inequality: UNESCO reported that over 260 million children were out of school as of 2018, with poverty as a major factor.
  • Ethnicity and Criminal Justice: The Sentencing Project found that African American individuals are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of white individuals in the U.S.
  • Gender-Based Violence: According to WHO, about 1 in 3 (30%) women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • Refugees and Discrimination: UNHCR stated that at the end of 2019, there were 79.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, often facing discrimination in host countries.

The Importance of Inclusive Language in Professional Settings

Because using inclusive language in professional settings is such a difficult thing to do! I mean, how hard is it to use gender-neutral terms or refrain from using derogatory slurs? It's not like we're all adults who should know better by now.

But hey, let's pretend for a moment that some people need a reminder. Using exclusive language in the workplace can make individuals feel ostracized and undervalued. Who wouldn't want that kind of fun at work?

Not only does inclusive language create an environment where everyone feels respected and valued, but it also sets a positive example for clients and customers. Because nothing screams professionalism like using discriminatory terminology!

And sure, some might argue that policing language can stifle free speech or limit creativity. But who needs those pesky things when you can just spew out whatever offensive joke pops into your head? Let's keep things light and unprofessional here!

In conclusion...oh wait, no conclusions allowed! But seriously folks, inclusivity shouldn't be seen as an inconvenience or burden in professional settings - it should be the norm.

Did You Know?

  • Digital Divide: UNESCO notes that the digital divide, particularly in internet access, adversely affects marginalized groups, with only 47% of the global population having internet access.
  • Mental Health Stigma: NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) found that 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year, yet stigma and discrimination remain significant barriers to treatment.
  • Body Size Discrimination: According to a survey by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, weight discrimination in the U.S. increased by 66% over the past decade.
  • Educational Attainment and Race: Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows significant disparities in educational attainment between different racial groups, with Asian and white Americans generally having higher levels of educational attainment than Hispanic and Black Americans.
  • Income and Gender: The U.S. Census Bureau (2020) reported that the median earnings of women ($47,299) were 82% of men’s median earnings ($57,456).

The Role of Inclusive Language in Advocacy and Activism

The role of inclusive language in advocacy and activism. Because clearly, using politically correct terms is what brings about real change in society.

I mean, forget about actually addressing systemic issues and enacting tangible solutions. Let's just focus on making sure everyone feels warm and fuzzy inside because we used the right pronouns.

Who cares if people are discriminated against based on their race or sexual orientation? As long as we use inclusive language, all those problems will magically disappear!

And don't even get me started on how much more effective our activism becomes when we spend hours debating which term to use instead of actually taking action.

But hey, at least we can pat ourselves on the back for being so woke and progressive! Who needs results when you have a perfect track record of never offending anyone with your words?

20 More Inclusive Expressions

  1. Non-Inclusive: "Colored people" / Inclusive Alternative: "People of Color"
  2. Non-Inclusive: "Oriental" / Inclusive Alternative: "Asian" or specific country/region of origin
  3. Non-Inclusive: "Elderly" or "The Elderly" / Inclusive Alternative: "Older Adults" or "Older People"
  4. Non-Inclusive: "Handicapped" / Inclusive Alternative: "Accessible" (for parking, bathrooms, etc.)
  5. Non-Inclusive: "Obese people" / Inclusive Alternative: "People with obesity" or "People of larger size"
  6. Non-Inclusive: "Skinny" / Inclusive Alternative: "Slim" or avoiding comments on body size
  7. Non-Inclusive: "Gay" (used inaccurately or as an insult) / Inclusive Alternative: Avoid using sexual orientations as labels for non-related behaviors
  8. Non-Inclusive: "Tranny" (derogatory for transgender) / Inclusive Alternative: "Transgender person" or "Trans person"
  9. Non-Inclusive: "Homosexual" (as a noun)/  Inclusive Alternative: "Gay man" or "Lesbian woman" or "Gay person"
  10. Non-Inclusive: "Biologically male/female" / Inclusive Alternative: "Assigned male/female at birth"
  11. Non-Inclusive: "Midget" / Inclusive Alternative: "Person with dwarfism" or "Little person"
  12. Non-Inclusive: "Schizophrenic" / Inclusive Alternative: "Person with schizophrenia"
  13. Non-Inclusive: "Retarded" / Inclusive Alternative: "Person with an intellectual disability"
  14. Non-Inclusive: "Ghetto" (as an adjective for things/people) / Inclusive Alternative: Be specific about what you're referring to and avoid stereotyping
  15. Non-Inclusive: "Third World countries" / Inclusive Alternative: "Developing countries" or "Low and middle-income countries"
  16. Non-Inclusive: "Normal" (in reference to heterosexual or cisgender) / Inclusive Alternative: "Heterosexual" or "Cisgender"
  17. Non-Inclusive: "Exotic" (referring to people) / Inclusive Alternative: Avoid describing people as 'exotic', which can otherize them
  18. Non-Inclusive: "Urban" (as a euphemism for Black or African American / Inclusive Alternative: "Black" or "African American" if relevant and necessary
  19. Non-Inclusive: "Gyp" or "Gypped" / Inclusive Alternative: "Cheated" or "Swindled"
  20. Non-Inclusive: "Illegal Alien" / Inclusive Alternative: "Undocumented Immigrant"


Well, there you have it - all the reasons why using inclusive language matters. But who cares about making people feel valued and respected? Who cares about creating a more equal society? Let's just keep using outdated language that excludes certain groups of people and perpetuates harmful stereotypes.

But for those of us who do care (which I hope is most of us), let's make an effort to use inclusive language in all aspects of our lives. Whether it's in professional settings, advocacy work, or even just casual conversations with friends and family - every word counts.

So here's to changing gay perceptions (and perceptions of all marginalized communities) one inclusive term at a time. Cheers!

Author: Cristiano Pistachio

I'm a singer, dancer, painter, self-publishing author, food critic, and mathematician. Hire me!

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About the author 

Rayverend Zooper

As a humble servant of the Cosmic Crucible, I, Rayverend Zooper, have dedicated my life to fostering harmony and understanding among all living beings. Guided by the wisdom of interconnectedness and the power of individual action, I strive to alleviate suffering and promote the inherent goodness of humanity. Through acts of kindness, okay that's enough.

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