From the front page of an operational circular of the CERN laboratories:

In the interest of readability, this circular has been drafted using the masculine gender only. However, use of the masculine gender should be understood to refer to both sexes. The provisions of the circular therefore apply to both men and women except where it is clear from the context that they concern one sex or the other exclusively.

A very polite and careful way to address the burden of having to refer to both sexes at once, indeed. So we went from male-only documents, to gender-equal ones, to male-only ones which carry a disclaimer on the front page. Evolution or involution ? I wonder if it occurred to the writer of the document that he or she had a choice between using the male gender or the female gender, after deciding to act "in the interest of readability"...

Or maybe I am just being paranoid, or biased, or both. The fact is, I have the misfortune of living in Italy, a country which has seen an amazing involution in the matter of gender rights. A strong "velinism" has been instilled in the mind of women and men by years of chauvinist television: Veline is the nickname for  eye-candy young girls, possibly undressed, which populate all popular TV shows since the Berlusconi era. The velinism is founded on the idea that to succeed in life and make a effortless fulminating career, a girl will just need to be good-looking and do some TV appearance, and learn to say yes when needed.

In a country where the Prime Minister populates his billionaire villa in Sardinia with scores of attractive half-naked girls fifty years younger than himself, lies about his relationship with a 17-years-old girl, enlists to get elected in the European Parliament soubrettes and pin-up girls who can barely speak Italian, manages to elect as Minister for Equal Opportunities a very attractive lady with no prior political experience but with whom he allegedly had a liaison, or is publically said to be "sick and in need of help" by the mother of his three youngest children, a CERN document addressing both sexes with the masculine gender should not surprise. Nor is surprising the fact that catholics still vote for him, in the knowledge that, in exchange for one more Pater Noster spelt to wash their soul at Sunday's mass, they have a guarantee that their tax evasion can continue unhindered. As unsurprised as I am, I retain the right to claim I am bitterly sick of this trend.