I watched five minutes of the interminable Super Bowl pregame show, but the brief segment I saw included the cast of several NBC shows performing a Broadway song and dance called “The Brotherhood of Man.”
In our day of gender inclusivity, when Bible translators worry that masculine pronouns might offend female readers, when professors tell students to use gender neutral terms—even if it makes their writing less readable, when just last week a woman accused our governor of being sexist for using the term “Michigander” (apparently a female resident of our state should be called a “Michigoose”)—it was surprising to see Brian Williams, Matt Lauer, Ann Curry, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and the cast of their shows happily singing words which I was told are sexist.
Does anyone know what the rules are? Were the NBC celebrities merely being ironic, and I missed the joke? Were female viewers offended by this performance? Should they be? Is it okay to use masculine terms for the human race as long as it’s in a classic song? Or does the performance by the stars of a major network during the Super Bowl—hard to get more mainstream than that—indicate that our preoccupation with gender inclusivity is overblown?
What are the rules, and when are we supposed to follow them?