Microsoft Office integrates ‘Woke’ features into its spell check

I recently discovered, entirely by accident, that the latest Microsoft Office update has added an ‘inclusivity’ check to its editor. The result is a new host of words receiving the dreaded underline, with alternatives suggested once you hover over them. 

This includes words like ‘mankind’, ‘manpower’, ‘postman’, or ‘blackmail’. Apparently. Only the latter was actually flagged as I typed them, but other users appear to have found ‘humankind’, ‘workforce’, and ‘postal worker’ offered respectively, whilst I was encouraged to employ ‘extortion’. As a word in the document, not to genuinely extort someone.  

My first reaction was surprise. It feels like a relatively significant change, impacting a number of the words we potentially use, and yet I had to stumble upon the discovery by chance. In particular, I thought it unusual the story hadn’t been seized by perpetually disgruntled commentators on the right, but perhaps I move in the wrong circles, as there are several articles online, courtesy of The Sun, The Mail, and similarly upstanding publications. 

The lack of reaction probably demonstrates the extent to which these changes have been normalised. No longer does it prompt indignant outrage or widespread celebration, nor have Microsoft trumpeted a new, progressive vision. In small, but increasing measures, we are becoming more tolerant and consciously considerate. 

So, why do I bother mentioning it? Only to highlight how terribly frustrating it must be for bigots nowadays. Wokeism has infiltrated society to its core, forcing its agenda onto those poor people just trying to insult others without uncomfortable feelings like guilt. Gone are the days of carelessly leaving language unmoderated. Welcome to this hellish future in which we must be polite and treat everyone like a human being.  

On a more serious note, the change was thought-provoking by its own merits, and has been praised by some for the capacity to flag people’s unconscious biases. My thoughts immediately turn to assessing potential virtue signalling when I notice alterations like these, but since there was little signalling those accusation cannot be levied too vigorously.  

Removed from the latest update, I personally find the Microsoft editor incredibly annoying. I dislike mistakes or inconsistencies, which incessantly nag at the front of my brain, and are fuelled by the various squiggles scarring each document I type. That’s not to imply I don’t understand spelling or grammar, or that I don’t appreciate being offered accurate improvements. It’s more infuriating to be reprimanded over the Editor’s own mistakes. Text predictions? You have no idea what I might say. I’m an enigma. Conciseness? I love unnecessarily wasting space on surplus words or tautologies, irony intended. 

My second tangent pertains not to Microsoft, but Wokeism. It truly has percolated through most facets of society, saturating popular media especially. Whilst I appreciate the effort (in most instances), I dislike shows or films that are clumsy with ‘Wokeism’, or that use it as if the mere existence in their universe is significant. One rare example where I’ve enjoyed seeing typically woke issues tackled has been in Netflix film The Takedown, which manages to be humorous by its own merits, references to Wokeism being secondary and serving a relevant purpose. It’s also rare for Netflix to produce an interesting film, so I definitely recommend it.  

Anyways, Microsoft Office has an inclusivity check on its Editor now. If you didn’t know that before, you’re welcome. Unless you don’t care. In which case, I hope you enjoyed the tangents. If the answer’s still no, I cannot imagine why you’d still be here.


Thanks for reading! Had you noticed the changes to Microsoft Office? Let me know your thoughts down below. Feature image courtesy of Unsplash.

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2 thoughts on “Microsoft Office integrates ‘Woke’ features into its spell check

Add yours

  1. I had not noticed these changes, maybe because I try to avoid these words in the first place. As a promoter of inclusive language, I welcome this change because it serves as a good reminder when many of these terms that are so engrained in our language slip into our written communication.

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    1. I do think it’s fantastic to remain alert to our subconscious biases. By chance again I was checking the specific dictionary definition of ‘mercenary’ and the online example in a sentence is “she’s nothing but a mercenary little gold-digger” which is an apt if disappointing example of precisely how ingrained gendered and derogatory terms and descriptions are. I mentioned in my ‘Woke‘ article the definition including the example “We need to stay angry, and we need to stay woke” surely being deliberately derisive, indicating how far we must still go in altering our language. It still feels like a step in the right direction!

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