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NATURAL: used often as a substitute for an opinion on what seems “right”; it is better not to use th

December 15, 2008

Summary: because it is difficult to know (scientifically, psychologically, philosophically) whether something is indeed "natural" and, secondarily, whether being natural is good, it is better not to use the term with respect to sex roles, age, race, sexual orientation, disabilities, or other human variables. These terms are often a substitute for informed thought, an opinion on what seems "right." "For centuries people have appealed to the 'natural' to back up their moral and social recommendations. ... it is often taken for granted that if one persuades us that '"X" is natural,' he has also persuaded us that '"X" is good" (Christine Pierce, in Vivian Gornick and Barbara K. Moran, eds., Woman in Sexist Society). Consider using automatic, instinctive, essential, idiosyncratic, usual, often-seen, common, habitual, accustomed, customary, established, time-honored, regulation, traditional, general, prevailing, frequent, popular, predictable, expected.

For more information on the forthcoming Unspinning the Spin: The Women’s Media Center Guide to Accurate, Bias-Free Language, click here.