Some people believe that the term master bedroom is racist. Slavery was abhorrent, but let me disagree about the term and make my case.
According to homeeon.com, master bedroom originated in the early 20th century—“a room reserved for the master of the home.” Trelora.com states, “The 1926 Sears catalog marks the first recorded use of the phrase . . .” Today, many real estate agents, fearing giving offense, use the term primary bedroom.
A question must be asked: Does master inherently refer to slavery? If so, Americans face a major linguistic conundrum.
Do we erase the word master from the English language? Perhaps we jettison only the noun form. If so, what do I call my master’s degree? Did I earn an NSAABD?—Next Step Above a Bachelor’s Degree? Is a change due for the lyrics of that great song in the musical classic Les Miserables, “Master of the House?” Is there a ring to “Primary of the House?” What about the title of Henrik Ibsen’s play, “The Master Builder?” Will we search in vain for master plumbers and electricians? How will we refer to chess grandmasters!
Should the verb form also be dismissed? Will no one ever again master a foreign language or the baking of a souffle?
The far left demands a heavy scrubbing of the English language, just as the far right’s culture saviors seek to cleanse school and public libraries of books they deem offensive. What’s next?
Once, something really great was boss. We know that field bosses on horses—rifles and whips in hand—terrorized slaves. Granted, many words for really great have followed. (Don’t ask me. I stopped with cool.) Still, problems remain. Can Bruce Springsteen fans still hail him as The Boss?
The next time someone claims a vehicle’s front passenger seat, they better not cry out, “I’ve got shotgun.” Field bosses and slave chasers carried shotguns. And when it comes to marketing decisions, better stick with a highly targeted rifle approach. A shotgun approach won’t cut it.
Congressional and legislative leadership positions also will have to change titles. Party whips maintain discipline, urge every party legislator to vote the party position. Call them enforcers? Sounds like the Mob. Will sports reporters be allowed to write, “Last night, the Mastodons whipped the Dandelions?” Will ice cream sundaes be denuded of whipped cream?
Politically correct people no longer will hang with each other. Lynching was all too common in these United States. No one will hang a picture. Or work at a task until they get the hang of it.
Slavery and the atrocities committed against African Americans following the Civil War remain a blot on our nation. We have much work to do to bring more African Americans into the mainstream, end all forms of racism. But purging our language of otherwise innocent words only muddies the waters. The Civil Rights movement emphasized, “Eyes on the prize.” Eyes on the dictionary cloud the vision of justice and equality.
So, if I refer to a master bedroom or master suite, take a breath and put the use of American English into context. We have more important issues to master.
Disclosure: I sleep in the mistress bedroom. When I’m not in the doghouse.
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