If you were to listen to comedians from generations past or step into the wrong thread on Reddit, you'd hear a lot about how society today had become too politically correct - PC, for those of you who are really into your initials. That's the idea that while we've done our best as a people to get rid of certain words and world views from the collective, but somewhere along the way, we lost our minds, and things became ridiculous.
Now, some of these complaints come from people who are upset they can no longer grope their secretaries or joke freely about gender and racial stereotypes, but then again, there are situations where you can see where people are coming from. A bakery in Lancashire in the UK is ground zero for the latest dispute in political correctness.
Now, most of you will be aware of the inherent male bias that comes with certain professions. Businessmen, spokesmen or actors are generally wider-used terms than their female counterparts, and for me, the switch to more gender-neutral terms is a step in the right direction.
But these are real human professions, with real issues about representation - do you really need a similar thought process for delicious sweet treats? Yeah, you can kind of see where this is going; JL Bean bakery have really planted their flag in the gender neutral camp by referring to a "gingerbread man" as a "gingerbread person", and it's fair to say the change hasn't gone down too well.
"Seemingly now you have to call gingerbread men 'gingerbread persons' when ordering. As far as I can see there is no law in place for this type of PC nonsense," laments one disgruntled customer by the name of Jeff Dugdale, and he's far from the only ones to take issue with the name change - JL Bean are under fire at the moment, for political correctness seemingly gone mad.
But Paul Lewis, current owner of the bakery - which has been around since 1933 - is a little surprised by all the fuss around the change. He thinks this is all one big storm in a teacup, as this apparently was little more than a simple joke - not a hardline stance against gender labels. Who would have guessed?
"My wife just put this little ‘gingerbread persons’ label on them as a whim, and that was last year. It was never anything to do with political correctness and we’ve not really had any comeback until now. I noticed the comments on Facebook and most of them were quite jokey but I was surprised at how seriously some of the people were taking things. I think maybe there’s been a bit of a misunderstanding."
Lookin' that way, Paul. But in the face of such criticism, JL Bean are paying it no mind, and I kind of see where they're coming from. After all, it's not like these little biscuit people have detailed male or female genitalia - that would be weird - so what's the issue with labeling them whatever you like?
And for me, the most important thing for me is that whether they're men, women or just people, the gingerbread just has to taste good. Isn't that what matters, in the end?