|Please correct me.|
A voluntary workplace diversity seminar last week — “The Power of Words: Inclusive Language at Mizzou” — underscored for those in attendance the importance of using “currently appropriate terminology” in order to bolster diversity.
In encounters with language offenders, the goal is to “draw them out” so they’ll begin to use ”correct words in conversation.”
"What pronoun do you use?"ReplyDelete
I refer to myself as "I".
"Wheelchair user." Like it's a choice. That is all.ReplyDelete
May I still use "aliens" when I mean extraterrestrials? We do cover SETI in my general-ed astronomy class, and many students don't know what "extraterrestrial" means.ReplyDelete
Well, this development that has been common practice in my field since the 1960s is clearly terrible and a sign of The Decline of Higher Ed.ReplyDelete
Yes, 'tis truly the end of times, is not this?Delete
However, intriguingly, I was triggered by phrase "you have to draw them out" by Amber Cheek, the university’s disability inclusion and ADA compliance manager. To me, that implies that someone is being set up for a public shaming, and as the victim of such "drawing out" episodes myself, I would have hoped that this person would have been more sensitive to my plight.
"Draw out" is offensive. Am I just some object to be pushed or pulled according to your will?Delete
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"According" is a trigger for me, and you should have warned me so that I would have known to close my eyes when I read it. My accordian teacher . . . no, I just can't talk about it. All these years later, and it's still too soon.Delete
What ever happened to just doing your best to use current terminology yourself, and letting others around you pick up on it? Discourse communities do naturally shift vocabulary over time, and, at least in relatively relaxed discourse communities without this sort of hyper-correct vigilance/policing, people naturally have conversations when they hear new-to-them vocabulary (e.g., in my own experience, about the acceptable uses of "queer," which was still mostly a slur when I was in college, and still sounds like one to many/most people my age or older. I still wouldn't use it as a direct description of someone myself, though I'll comfortably say "He/she/ze self-identifies as queer," or something along those lines, if that is, in fact, the case).ReplyDelete
Interestingly, I find myself having to correct the use of "Negro" (which of course isn't a slur, but is an anachronism) in student work now and then. More often than not, the authors are African-American students who would never use the word in speech, but haven't yet mastered how to adjust vocabulary when paraphrasing historical documents.
And, while I'm happy to use whatever pronoun(s) a student requests, if (s)he requests them, and might even begin inviting people to specify preferred pronouns if they wish when introducing themselves (though I suspect doing so will baffle a good percentage of my students), I'm *not* going to start questioning individual students who appear gender-ambiguous to me about preferred pronouns. What if the student doesn't consider hirself gender-ambiguous at all?
And I self-identify as liberal (though as I get older I'm beginning to see the truth in the saying usually attributed to Churchill about youth and age and liberalism and conservatism.)
If you’re unsure if someone wants to be referred to as a “she” or “he,” you can simply ask, “What pronouns do you use?”ReplyDelete
I'm with Cassandra. I wouldn't do that. It would sound like I was throwing some serious shade.
It a matter of simple courtesy to not make a habit of insulting or verbally abusing the people around you. Fine. So I try to stop using the old euphemisms that have taken on the negative connotations of the words they were introduced to replace and instead to use the new euphemisms that haven't yet acquired those connotations.ReplyDelete
But that is a Red Queen's Race with the evolution of language. As long as some people are assholes there will be ways of indicating prejudicial disdain and slyly suggesting that certain others are automatically lower on the social pecking order.
An obsessive focus and language won't help that in the least.
In the meantime, we can try to bring a baseline respect to all our social actions hope to lead, as CC said, by example.
"Queen"? That's really inappropriate and unnecessary.Delete
Carroll would have had such fun with this stuff.Delete
Couric: What pronouns do you use?ReplyDelete
Palin: All of them.
Please don't call me "offensive" anymore. I prefer to be called "person with a propensity for miseuphony." Thank, I mean, fuck you.ReplyDelete