It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. […] Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. […] The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.
The prophetic words from 1984 by George Orwell (1903-1950) seem increasingly to correspond to everyday life.
The operation began decades ago, in predictably peaceful and seemingly positive ways. Here in Italy, the trash collector became l’operatore ecologico (the “ecological operator”)—as if the dignity of such daily toil were amplified by a more prissy description. Or there’s the case of the handicapped being re-designated the “differently abled.” Yet already here something must have gone wrong; because, despite such verbal cleverness, in reality malformations and handicaps (even slight)—far from having gained in dignity and consideration—have become sufficient grounds to abort a fetus with such “defects,” even in the second trimester of pregnancy (not only in Italy, but also elsewhere). Such are regarded “lives not worth living” to such an extent that, even after birth, in some places, being “differently-abled” under certain circumstances can be grounds for terminating life. Supposedly it’s in the “best interest“—yet another euphemistic neologism—of the individual.
Newspeak in the university
The evolution of language, however, goes on apace. Some researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra last year published a gender-inclusive handbook, or rather a guide to “uplift female and gender minority students.” The use of the concept of “gender” as a social construct and the assimilation of the female condition to that of “gender minorities” are already perplexing—as if “gender minorities” really existed, in addition to the male and female sex—but particularly striking are the tips for the use of the parent-inclusive Newspeak. With the supposedly noble aim of easing the plight of those in school who are already looking after a child, the Australian university says it is “celebrating diversity among students”. [The handbook says, “While many students will identify as ‘mothers’ or ‘fathers,’ using these terms alone to describe parenthood excludes those who do not identify with gender-binaries.”]
Heterosexuality is traumatizing
According to a 2019 study done by researcher Lauren Dinour, Speaking Out on Breadfasting Therminology, quoted in the ANU handbook, “heterosexual and woman-focused lactation language [. . .] can misgender, isolate, and harm transmasculine parents and non-heteronormative families.” So, in place of such quintessentially “heterosexual” terms as “breastfeeding,” the handbook “therefore recommend[s]… the terms ‘breast/chest feeding’… rather than ‘breastfeeding’…’ to describe lactation.”
However, a problem remains for the neo-linguists, a subtle contradiction: namely, they seem to take for granted that only women have breasts. Perhaps a “transgender female-to-male” who has retained her mammary glands would feel more “welcomed” by hearing about “chests” instead of “breasts.” But isn’t it discriminatory also toward “male-to-female transgender” persons who have resorted to cosmetic surgery not to acknowledge their “breasts” as being just as real as those Mother Nature gives to those XX chromosomes?
Trampled by seahorses
It is also very wrong, we learn, to speak of “mother’s milk” when there are more “inclusive” expressions: “human milk” or “parent’s milk”. And, because they are “discriminatory,” terms such as “mother” and “father” should be abolished in favor of “gestational parent” or “birthing parent” and “nongestational parent” and “nonbirthing parent.”
Evidently there is still some reason, surely of a practical order, that requires one to distinguish between a “gestating parent” and a “parent” who does not gestate their child; but it is no longer part of polite and civilized vocabulary to take for granted that it is the “mother” who carries on the gestation of a child and gives birth to it. For example, there are “seahorse dads,” or “‘men’ who give birth”—and to refer to such as these as “mothers” would in be truly unforgivable indeed!
‘Breast milk’ also banned in UK hospitals
The Australian university’s pamphlet is but one example of the attempt at linguistic revolution underway today. In the two facilities run by Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, midwives are no longer allowed to use the terms “breastfeeding” and “breast milk.” ‘Maternity wards’ have become ‘peri-natal services’ and practitioners, having successfully removed the terms ‘mothers’ and ‘women’, are ‘proud to care for trans and non-binary people’. In fact, according to the health workers of those hospitals, the classical narrative of pregnancy, birth and nurturing of the newborn brings with it “biological essentialism and transphobia.”
Nominalism and nihilism: the denial of pain
The University was once the place where people learned that known truth involves correspondence with reality; as the Medievals put it, adaequatio rei et intellectus (“the intellect must be adequate to the reality known”). Epistemic nominalism—a presupposition now implicit in any “scientific” research—has, however, eliminated the relationship between thoughts/words and concrete data. In the debasement of bodies, which are mutilated and shaped according to the whim of minds that are increasingly too immature to have attained adequate self-understanding, the lying illusion is that altering the narrative can alter the facts. A man, or a woman, who is by condition—or conditioning—uncomfortable in relation to his or her own body can now adopt the illusion that the “celebration” (another significant Newspeak term) of his or her own “diversity” suppresses meaningful and inconvenient facts.
The names of snow
An urban legend has it that the Eskimos have a hundred different words to indicate snow (despite several studies to disprove this statement). Yet, in the myth there is still a deep meaning: man, the more he deals with a certain reality, continues to build observations, knowledge, and descriptions. And the more knowledge grows, the more specific and precise the language becomes: reality is indicated with ever greater accuracy.
Where, on the other hand, we find language systematically thinned out and impoverished, it is evident that the ultimate intention is not to describe or know better, but to hide something, to obscure what it uncomfortable or inconvenient. But to deny the uncomfortable doesn’t make the pain go away.