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.

42 thoughts on “‘sup?

  1. Jason Truitt

    Can we get rid of “doctor” for PhDs, too please?

    Your verification gave me a multiplication problem. Took me a second.

  2. delurking

    1. Ph.D.s were called “doctor” before medical doctors existed.

    2. “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.”

    You get this completely wrong. This was the first success of the gender-based-language movement. Clearly, females were given special status by the fact that they got their own pronoun, to be used only for them; whereas males were reduced to second-class citizens by their having to share their pronoun with women whenever women were around. This state of affairs has existed for too long, it is about time men got their very own pronouns.

    1. Lurker

      I hate to ruin on your parade, but medical doctors existed long before Ph.Ds.

      In medieval universities, the faculty of philosophy was the first one, and a baccalaureate from there was a prerequisite for study in the three higher faculties: laws, medicine and divinity. You could only become a doctor in those three. If you continued in the faculty of philosophy, you would become a magister there, which was the equivalent of a doctor in higher faculties.

      In the 18th century, German universities started awarding a separate doctor philosophiae degree, because the baccalaureate had become a mid-way step (actually the high school graduation) and a magister degree was required for higher civil offices. In particular, the Humboldtian university ideal of combining research and teaching made original research a prerequisite for a doctoral degree.

      The English-speaking world imported the Ph.D from Germany only in late 19th century. At the same time, the original doctorates from the higher three faculties fell into disuse in Britain. There, physicians are Bachelors of Medicine and lawyers, Bachelor’s of Law. The degrees of Doctor of Laws or Medicine are ways of honouring senior university professors who have held the Ph.D for decades. (In the continent, a Doctor of Laws or of Medicine is usually esssentially a Ph.D with a different name. I’m myself a Doctor of Science, but that is not higher doctorate, just a government-approved translation for my Ph.D. in a scientific field)

      The US experience is one of inflation, as you have professional doctorates without any research requirement, but still, it shows how differently you can develop from the same origins.

  3. Christina

    Ok, Dear SHG, This IS, I admit, really funny! And I am going to blame you the first time I am addressed by “Yo” or “Sup” but I would like to point out that “Hey” has always been a gender neutral greeting in Mississippi and its surrounds (but I would not expect you to know that, Mr. NYC, because MS is a looooong way from NYC.)

    I would also like to comment, that funny as your post is, there is a huge problem when the male is used as the “gender neutral” and that problem is in medicine, both allopathic/conventional and alternative, particularly Oriental. As you may know, drugs may act very differently upon a female body (hormonal cycles and all that) than a male, and yet, to eliminate having to deal with the problems of testing on female animals including humans, researchers have long used sets of only male test subjects to the great detriment of females when those drugs reach the market. In Oriental energy medicine Arts, like Chi Gong and more, the energetic anatomy is basically backwards, the male from the female, so women practicing according to the ancient and modern instructions might really hurt themselves unless they have a Teacher or a doctor who knows the difference (not all that common.)

    I don’t know how to get the very real dangers out of medicine, without going to the absolutely ridiculous society-at-large extremes that you have been pointing out. And as a female of a certain age, I experienced the most unbelievable discrimination in the workplace when I was young. It is remarkable I survived and that is not an exaggeration as my workplace was quite dangerous and the also very hostile to females. Nevertheless, I don’t see this sea change against men and due process any benefit to me or to younger women. I shudder to think what a learning experience these young women (and men) will be in for as they enter the workplace and also what their expectations will do to the law and society.

    I will get off and take my lashings now since I know this does not bear very much on the law and on the direct interests of lawyers and I know that’s your criteria for commenting without lashings.

    1. SHG Post author

      I expected such self-loathing womanish response to my new-found gender sensitivity. There are no differences between males and females, and your attempt to invoke medicine, particularly Oriental, is denialist! For shame!!!

      Did you like my lashing? It wasn’t easy to come up with anything. I had to work really hard.

    1. SHG Post author

      That was when they were still subjugated by the patriarchy, who deliberately confused them with big words like “mistress,” which sounds way too dominatrix. Wait a second…

  4. Jeff Spicoli

    Sup bro!

    gnarly blog! bout time those patriarchal fags are harshed on for being dicks to the babes.

    1. Dissent

      I was going to ask what’s wrong with using “Dear Student” or “Dear Applicant” for such uni communications, but then my mind spun off to “Dear Rejected Applicant” and “Dear Loser,” and I realized that maybe I should just go get some more gender-neutral coffee.

  5. Patrick Maupin

    > Hereinafter, I will commence all my correspondence with the word, “‘sup.”

    That’s Mister ‘sup to you, buddy.

    1. Jack

      I don’t know, while I have lived in the south and appreciate the utility of “y’all”, growing up in NJ I am going to vote for the “yous” or “yous guys”

  6. Stan

    “Comrade” seems pretty gender neutral. Going back even further: “Citizen”. I don’t think either worked out real well in the end…

  7. Ross

    How about RIST, short for “Relatively Independent Sub Totality”? Thats a concept I picked up from a Neal Stephenson novel reference to hive minds. Given the near robotic sense of humor the pushers of this inane concept have, it seems to fit.

  8. Catherine Mulcahey

    Greetings Earthling,
    I thought Oriental referred only to rugs. not drugs. This is a very funny post with a lot of amusing comments. I am especially looking forward to reading whatever Judge Kopf has to say about man boobs. However, there is a serious problem here. When people like Provost Lennihan pass goofy rules, they devalue efforts to deal with real discrimination. I don’t care whether people call me Mrs. or Ms. or Y’all, but I do care about equal opportunity.

    1. Patrick Maupin


      Back in the 80s, I was travelling a lot to England, and I noticed a stark difference. At home, we had “administrative assistants,” and in some cases you had to be very careful, not only what you asked them to do, but also how you asked. In England, they had “secretaries”, and in some of the places where I worked, they would actually come around to my desk several times a day to see if I needed any tea or coffee.

      But it seemed to me that the Europeans were, in many cases, much farther along at furthering goals of actual equality, with (for example) meaningful advancements on childcare and maternity/paternity leave that made it more realistic for ordinary women to actually have careers.

      1. David M.

        It’s all at the point of a sword, though. For example, here in Germany, the government may soon raise taxes on single-earner families. Agency is such an American concept.

        1. SHG Post author

          So between the two of you, you ruined a wet dream. Can either of you enjoy a little satire without getting all serious about countries no one gives a shit about?

          1. Patrick Maupin

            Unlike you, I am contractually obligated to give a shit about England, because I imported my wife from there. An expensive import, to be sure, but well worth it IMHO.

  9. LTMG

    My understanding is that when court is in session, judges are addressed as Judge, bailiffs as Bailiff, etc. Would if be improper to use Prosecutor as an entirely accurate but faintly pejorative term of address as in “No, Prosecutor Doe, I did not say that.”? Pejorative because Prosecutor as a term of address carries with it a faint totalitarian whiff of the kangaroo.

  10. Beth Clarkson

    This post was so funny, I read parts of it aloud to my husband.

    He asked if it shouldn’t be “Dear ‘sup”?

    I told him the use of ‘Dear’ was clearly patronizing to the recipient. He agreed.

    Then he apologized for being a man. (That’s satire because I’m never sure it comes through in my words).

    Thanks for making us smile tonight.

  11. John Barleycorn

    Your aggregation commentary and correspondence leaves me with the Russian boarder and all of Europe, for now.

    Trains not planes.

    Through is not in.

    This speech you speak of needs Italy.

  12. Kirsten Small

    From now on, I’m going to start all my letters to opposing counsel (regardless of gender) with “Yo, bitch.”

    1. Patrick Maupin

      That should work well. It’s how I address my manager, although I would never talk to the administrative assistant that way.

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