Many years ago, the patriarchy conspired to diminish the influence of women by crafting gender based language. By doing so, our forefathers sought to pigeonhole people by gender, with males addressed by such glorious titles as “Sir” and “Mister,” while women were denigrated with the diminutive titles of “Madam, Miss, Mrs.” and the dreaded “Ms.”
It was bad enough that the gender inclusive pronouns were male, flagrantly snubbing females by choosing to elevate male language as proper when mixed gender was involved. How ridiculous to pick one over the other, demonstrating male supremacy! It was bad enough that they felt it necessary to distinguish people by gender at all, no less ignore the 37 other permutations of gender roles.
But finally, after all these years and so many needlessly hurt feelings, change is coming. Via Robby Soave at Reason, the City University of New York has stepped into the breach to put an end to the flagrant sexism of patriarchal language.
CUNY’s Graduate Center now believes the use of gendered salutations like “Mr.” and “Mrs.” might offend some students. What’s more, administrators think federal non-discrimination law requires the university to prevent its faculty from inadvertently giving offense. Therefore, professors have been instructed to wipe the contentious words from their memories and cease using them in any and all forms of communication. According to The College Fix:
“Effective Spring 2015, the (graduate center’s) policy is to eliminate the use of gendered salutations and references in correspondence to students, prospective students, and third parties,” Louise Lennihan, interim provost, states to employees in a recent memo. “Accordingly, Mr. and Ms. should be omitted from salutations.”
Lennihan instructs staffers to interpret the new policy “as broadly as possible,” that it applies to “all types of correspondence, such as: all parts of any letter including address and salutation, mailing labels, bills or invoices, and any other forms or reports,” states the memo, a copy of which was provided to The College Fix by school spokeswoman Tanya Domi.
School spokeswoman Domi told The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the new policy, that it aims to work “within a regulatory framework to comply with Title IX legal principles.”
Of course, some males refuse to accept the notion that they no longer control the world, and so resist this change.
But Ari Cohn, free speech lawyer and advocate at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, took issue with the spokeswoman’s suggestion that Title IX requires or even encourages a policy similar to the one the graduate center has implemented.
“Title IX prohibits discrimination—nothing more,” he said in an email to The College Fix. “Unfortunately, this problematic justification is emblematic of a pattern that FIRE is increasingly concerned by: Title IX is being turned into a Swiss army knife that can be used by colleges and universities to justify (and provide political cover for) virtually any academic or institutional policy even tangentially related to sex or gender.”
Ari, Ari, Ari, you patriarchal tool. Why would anyone fight the obvious hurt and pain caused by sending a woman a letter with the salutation, “Dear Ms. Smith”? Do you pull the wings off flies as well? Or just female flies?
I, for one, welcome this change in flagrantly hurtful language, and will no longer engage in such deliberate and pointless gender-bashing by including such a facially discriminatory word in my salutations. But this does present a problem.
If not “Mr.” or “Ms.,” then what? The informal first name could be used, but that seems to raise a new problem growing out of the disrespect of informality. After all, without having been invited to use a person’s first name, isn’t it rude to be so presumptuous? Rudeness should not be tolerated, and we can only pray that it is made a felony some day soon.
Other ideas come to mind, like salutations beginning with “Yo,” or perhaps “Hey.” But then, Adam Steinbaugh, who is always in touch with his 37 gender sides, offered this brilliant suggestion:
While I would never seek to impose my biased will on anyone else, nor cause pain or hurt that would require a trigger warning in advance of my salutation, Adam’s suggestion clearly wins the day.
Hereinafter, I will commence all my correspondence with the word, “‘sup.” Because I feel your pain and I respect you.