Then They Came For Our Manholes

Then They Came For Our Manholes

BERKELEY, CALIF.—The following is “transcribed” from a letter “handed” to me this morning by a mysterious, hooded stranger. He came bearing news that our city had recently voted to remove gendered pronouns from municipal codes in reference to inanimate objects and descriptions of labor. Albeit brief, the interaction was certainly unnerving. He called himself a “Concerned Local Man” and informed me that his voice needed to be heard. After asking him to leave, he informed me that “We’ve lost the war.” As I asked “What war?”—the man turned, walked a few paces, and rested his hand on my front porch’s railing. “The only war.”

First they came for businessmen. People told us, “It’s fine! It’s progress!” Then they came for our children’s clothing. Led by the witch they call Celine Dion, they paraded their kids about in “gender neutral,” “stereotype free” t-shirts, pants, and onesies. How foolish we were, writing Facebook posts and drafting petitions to turn the tides of this war against American values. But manholes, firemen, policemen, and chairman? These were sacred! These were pure! These were the last vestiges of maleness from the America we knew and loved. Now they’re gone. With them dies the spirit of our patriarchy itself.

The war was lost at a city council meeting on Tuesday night in the city of Berkeley, California. A new ordinance—proposed by council members Rigel Robinson, Cheryl Davila, Ben Bartlett, and Lori Droste— approves a city-wide scrubbing of gendered pronouns to describe inanimate objects. A letter from City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley to the mayor and councilmembers provides further context on how such changes will be implemented.

Gendered subject (he, she, etc.), object (him, her, etc.) and possessive (his, hers, etc.) pronouns shall be replaced by a gender-neutral description of the pronoun referent’s title of office, employment or descriptor. […] The measure would also change other terminology. “Manhole” would be changed to “maintenance hole,” “manpower” would be changed to “human effort” and “sorority” or “fraternity” would be changed to “collegiate Greek system residence,” according to the ordinance. In addition, gendered terms in the existing code such as he, she, him, her, himself, herself would be switched to specific nouns such as the architect, the attorney, the council member, the clerk, the driver and more.

Thankfully, concerned and heroic members of the public took to Berkleyside’s comment section to fight for our hard-earned American freedom of referring to everything we see as both ours, and male! Many also pointed out the lack of care in the modern society for Americans that cannot understand the concept of object permanence. One patriot and sufferer of the condition wrote,

“I have enough trouble remembering the names of people I meet. I do not need to compound the problem with remembering pronouns. And if I default everyone to they and someone says that their pronoun is “Princess Knickermuffin,” I will forget and use they again, causing more social awkwardness.”

We exist, and we demand visibility! Shame on Berkeley for denying men their manholes—holes which were historically dug and crawled in by men. As for the “Princess Knickermuffins,” consider the victims of your culture war against traditional values. All we wanted was a world that was ours to live in without prejudice, harm, and the complete erasure of masculinity from modern society. Now that you’ve ransacked our dream and razed our homes, where else are we left to crawl too? Surely not the “maintenance holes!”


Concerned Local Man.

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