Monday, May 15, 2006

The Pain, the pain

Now this is my own fault, and I knew better at the time.


I put this question on my HEL final --

Q: Tell me about some of the efforts to eliminate sexism in language. Are these efforts a good idea?

Ai, my word, the answers I am getting!

This cannot be a controversial question anywhere except in Arkansas. Please tell me it is not. Please. I beg you.

No, of course I know better. I read Townhall and CWA, after all.

But these are my students. I've been teaching them for three years, some of them. And they still can spout things like, "Well, men and women are different, after all, so why shouldn't our language reflect that difference? I don't believe language ought to pretend we're just alike."

And: "Maybe sexist language is a problem but personally I hate political correctness and anyway we have bigger problems to worry about in this world. Anyway, no one's going to make me write that way, no matter what. I'll write what I want."

And: "I don't see what the big deal is. When I see mailman I don't think anything of it or when I see things like 'Mankind have made great advances in science,' that doesn't bother me one way or the other. Men do some things, women do other things. Who cares?"

Yes, indeed. Who does care?

Not my students. That's for sure.


CB said...

I like the "e" idea. I mean how fun would it be to go around writing e, but how to handle his or her? mayby h

e would not have to worry about h childcare if the gov funded it?

hmm. dunno.

Diane said...

It is a controversial subject everywhere, not just in Arkansas. The only places where it is not controversial are places where people don't even know what "sexist language" is.

As you know, I have blogged many times about easy it is to get around using sexist language, but even "sympathetic" people insist on making it difficult.

Diane said...

Oh, one other thing: Perhaps you can forbid your students to say anything other than "womankind" or "you gals" while they are in your class. Believe me, the boys would NOT like it.

zelda1 said...

Since I live in a house with two adult males and the Baby, well, trying to discuss things like sexism or feminism becomes an exercise in frustration to the maxium. So, I purposefully say things like womankind. It really pisses my conservative son off and why, I'm not sure. Last night, for instances, we were watching one of my favorite movies and I said, "YOu know that was sexists." He, my son said, "You can find sexists stuff in everything if you just try." I said, "MY point. Don't you get it?" of course he doesn't. So, I'm all for womankind. By the way, I was shocked how sexists my graduate professors are. REally, who taught these men?

delagar said...

Who taught them? Other men. Seriously. Look around at the faculty of major universities some time. Most major universities are staffed by faculty that is predominantly white European male.

Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with the white European male. Heavens no. It's the hegemony that gets taken for granted as his worldview, generally, that I'm worried about.