Firemen became firefighters. Penmanship became handwriting. Great. But there's one gender neutral word I can't support.

Firemen became firefighters.
A serious improvement. I'd rather be a firefighter than a fireman. 

Stewardess became flight attendant.
Also an improvement.  

Policemen became police officer.
A solid choice. I'd rather call a police officer for help than a policeman. 

Mailman became mail carrier. 
Fine. More descriptive, even.

Penmanship became handwriting.
A more modern alternative.  

Waiter and waitress became server. 
I don't love it, but I can live with it. 

Freshmen became first year students.
A little awkward. Not the greatest. But I can live with it if I must.

I appreciate the attempt to create a more gender-neutral language, particularly when so many of these words traditionally skewed male. 

But there's one that I just can't get behind:

Fisherman has become fisher. 

In 2013, Washington state completed a six year process of rewriting their laws so that they were written using gender neutral terminology. Certain words like manhole cover remained because a better alternative could not be found, but fisherman became fisher, and I hate it.

And it's not only Washington who has adopted the new word. Many websites and news organizations acknowledge fisher as an appropriate alternative to fisherman.

I'm not saying that fisherman is the right word. I'm saying that despite it's obvious male slant, fisherman is a hell of a lot better than fisher. 

But I'm open to better options. I asked my students for alternatives, and their suggestions weren't all that appealing, either. 

Fisher person
Fish hunter
Fish catcher

To be honest, they didn't love these ideas, either. They also agreed that fisher was a terrible alternative.

One of them pointed out that a fisher is actually a small mammal that doesn't eat fish.

Another terrible use of the word.

So I'm looking for an alternative to fisher, and until I find one, I think I'm going stick with the admittedly male leaning and possibly sexist word fisherman.

Sometimes a word - even when wrong - just feels right. 

I don't know any professional fishermen - male or female - but I can't help but think that they would agree with me.

It would be amazing if my daughter became a firefighter when she grew up. My wife may disagree slightly.

My wife and I differ in opinion on so few things.

She’s not a fan of Meatloaf (the musician, not the delicious meat product), but that’s not a difference of opinion as much as a flaw in her character.

I don’t love many of the traditional Jewish foods that she adores so much, but that’s simply the result of my objectivity on the matter and her lack thereof.

I suspect that we might also disagree on the idea of our daughter becoming a firefighter when she grows up. I took the kids to the fire station’s open house recently, and Clara had the chance to try out some of the responsibilities of a firefighter:

  • Fire a stream of high-pressure water at a pretend fire.
  • Climb aboard a fire truck and don a helmet.
  • Crawl under pretend smoke.
  • Stop, drop, and roll.
  • Eat doughnuts.   

As I watched her do all these things with great enthusiasm, I couldn’t help but think how amazing it would be if Clara decided to become a firefighter when she grew up. I found myself actually wishing for this dream to become a reality.

My little girl, battling fires, responding to false alarms, and saving lives.

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I suspect that Elysha would be slightly less supportive of this possible career path. Not nearly as enthusiastic about her little girl battling flames with a hose and a hatchet. Nevertheless, to her credit, I’m also confident that she would never stand in Clara’s way of making her dreams come true, even if that dream included running into fiery buildings to save cats.

I suspect that she has little to fear in this regard. Ever since Clara could speak in sentences, she has told us that when she grows up, she wants to take care of babies and be a mommy.

Not exactly firefighter material. At least not yet.