I assume you’ve heard about the horrible shooting at Fort Hood on Wednesday in which a soldier killed three people and injured 16 more before committing suicide.
Plenty is going to be said, written, and analyzed (possibly even in that order) about the event. What struck me, however, was part of the story that I read on Mashable.
The shooter reportedly walked into the building just before 5 p.m. CT on Wednesday and opened fire. He then hopped into a vehicle, drove a short distance to another building, entered it, and again opened fire. He was confronted by a female MP in a parking lot and then shot himself in the head.
Here’s my question: Why was it necessary to say “female MP”?
In some ways, I guess it’s good and important to highlight the role women play in the military. If the article hadn’t said “female MP” most readers would assume a male MP was involved.
But it seems unfortunate that we still have to point out women in strong roles when we encounter them. It seems (to me at least) that by now we should be much more gender neutral than we are.
When we hear about the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, we need to not assume the person in question is male, white, and between 55 and 65 years old. When we hear about an astronaut, we should not assume that the aviator being discussed is a man. And when we hear about elite military personnel, we should not “know” what gender is being discussed just because it’s always been that way.