Dear Mr. Dad: A few days ago, I was talking to my 11-year old son about needing to take responsibility for his behavior, and I told him to “Man up.” I started thinking about that phrase and wondered about all the gender stereotyping we do without even realizing it. Are expressions like Man up harmless parts of the language?
A: You’re right. We do use a lot of sex stereotypes in our everyday speech, most of the time without realizing it. Sometimes even the most gender-neutral phrases carry a strong stereotyped message. In most cases, the words are harmless, but other times they’re dangerous.