I first noticed the strange phenomenon when I was performing a spellcheck on my novel. Every time the search hit the word "lady", it wanted me to change my selection, as if "lady"couldn't possibly be the correct choice.
Then I noticed that the program wanted to change "waitress" to "server", "businessman" to
"businessperson", and "hostess" to "host".
What was this madness???
Imagine a group of businesspersons gathered at a table at the local Denny's. The server walks up and places the bill on the table. As they leave, the host tells them to have a nice day.
What a bland vision.
Now, imagine a group of businessmen gathered at a table at the local Denny's. The waiter walks up and places the bill on the table. As they leave, the hostess tells them to have a nice day.
Can you get a better picture, even without adjectives, of who these people are? Yes, you can, because you at least know their gender.
I know if my character is a lady. Even if she's not, having another character call her a lady can help to define the character that is speaking.
I also know the sex of my characters, and if it's a woman server, I can save a word by calling her a waitress. There is no shame in being a waitress. I was one. I didn't give a hoot if I was referred to as a server or a waitress. I just wanted my tip.
I don't have a problem with mankind, and I refuse to read a Bible that has obliterated male pronouns. There are certain situations that call for an inclusive word, such as a corporate newsletter that goes out to men and women, but in that case, you are addressing a specific audience. And it's nice to alternate he and she if your giving examples, because your audience is most likely made up of both.