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Watch those metaphors!

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There may be a backlash against “political correctness,” but I think we all have learned to be sensitive in our use of metaphors. Certainly the language has changed over the last 20, 50, 100 years and some phrases that were once in general use are not heard any more.

But we are still learning. Recently, in the context of the strategic planning process, the Association used the term “sacred cow” to refer to assumptions that need to be challenged — the way we hold meetings, our governance processes, etc. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (according to defines a “sacred cow” as “one that is immune from criticism, often unreasonably so” (emphasis added). The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms reports that the term has been used figuratively since 1900.

It was brought to the attention of the AAUW leadership that the use of this phrase, with its negative connotations, is offensive to Hindus, and an apology was offered admitting a new awareness of objections to the term.

In our society which is more and more diverse, I would like to challenge the members of AAUW North Carolina to strive to be inclusive in our language. If there are terms or phrases which you find offensive which you see in AAUW NC communications, please do bring them to our attention — in particular, feel free to “register” and comment on this post to document phrases to which you object. We may be dealing with terms that are not used often, but even a rare offense is still an offense – please help us learn.

Thanks, all!