You might try to dismiss a connection between language and equality as an exercise in political correctness, but our words have the unique power to create images and concepts.
The oppressive capabilities of language aren't always imposed on us by tradition or outside coercion. After all, when we refer to each other as bitches, sluts and whores, can we really be outraged when a shock jock does it?
A person certainly is free to choose his or her words, but those choices come loaded with consequence. Sometimes they include losing your job; sometimes the damage isn't as easy to measure. Until we understand and accept the power of language to shape our world, we'll never really be equal.