From ‘Master’ to ‘Primary’ bedrooms: Should we embrace the change?

In the ever-evolving landscape of real estate, even the language used to describe homes is transforming. The once-familiar term “master bedroom” is now under scrutiny, with discussions around its potential insensitivity and links to historical contexts.

This article dives into the ongoing debate surrounding the shift from ‘master’ to ‘primary’ bedrooms and explores whether this linguistic change should be embraced in the real estate industry.

When was the term “master bedroom” first used?

The journey of the term “master bedroom” dates back to a 1926 Modern Homes catalogue by Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Interestingly, the catalogue introduced the concept of a “master’s bedroom” in the description of the second floor of the most luxurious home. Before this, floor plans typically used the term “chamber” for bedrooms.

The origins of the term appear to be rooted in a commercial context, possibly a marketing strategy by Sears to attract post-World War I suburban home buyers aspiring to join the expanding middle class.

Read more: The languages of real estate: Barriers, roadblocks, and problems

Why is the term considered problematic?

The reconsideration of the term “master bedroom” stems from several factors:

  • Historical ties to slavery: The term carries historical associations with slavery, evoking concepts of dominance and ownership that may be unsettling in a contemporary context.
  • Gendered implications: The gendered nature of the term, assuming a male ‘master,’ may not align with the diverse and inclusive values of modern households.
  • Sensitivity to individuals: Recognising the potential for offence, some find the term to be problematic, prompting a call for alternative, more inclusive language.
  • Evolution of language: Advocates for change argue that the real estate industry should adapt its language to be more inclusive, considering terms like “primary bedroom” or “owner’s suite” as more suitable alternatives.

Read more: LGBTQIA+ community dismayed by PLH policy as it excludes Singaporean singles

Should Singapore follow suit?

The question of whether Singapore should adopt this linguistic shift parallels the ongoing debate in the real estate communities globally. The decision to transition from “master bedroom” to “primary bedroom” is a nuanced one, involving personal preference and cultural sensitivity.

Singapore, with its rich cultural tapestry, may need to navigate this shift carefully. While some argue that “master bedroom” is a neutral term merely indicating the largest bedroom, others emphasise the importance of adapting language to be more inclusive.

Using “primary bedroom” may align with contemporary values, acknowledging and respecting those who find the existing terminology problematic.

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Should we embrace the shift from master bedroom to primary bedroom?

Embracing inclusivity in real estate

Real estate, as an industry, is not immune to societal changes. As we collectively work towards a more inclusive and sensitive environment, language plays a pivotal role. Embracing the change from ‘master’ to ‘primary’ bedrooms is a small yet significant step in fostering inclusivity within the real estate realm.

Navigating the transition

The ongoing shift in real estate language prompts industry professionals and homeowners alike to reevaluate their use of terminology. Navigating this transition requires a willingness to adapt and an understanding of the potential impact on diverse communities.

Impact of language evolution on the real estate industry

The evolving terminology is not just a linguistic change but a reflection of broader societal shifts. The real estate industry, by embracing these language updates, has the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to diversity and inclusivity. This shift goes beyond semantics; it is a conscious choice to create a more welcoming space for all.

Properties with primary rooms for you

What are your thoughts on the shift from ‘master’ to ‘primary’ bedrooms? Share your insights in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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