During a class at the University of Maryland, a female instructor accused a male student of “mansplaining” after he simply asked a question about her lesson pertaining to her conviction that the suffix “-ess” is sexist.
Audio has surfaced on Reddit this week of a UMD instructor who compares herself to a “long line of angry feminists” becoming upset when a white male student questioned her belief that words like “waitress” and “hostess” are sexist. When he asked the teacher to explain how these terms are sexist, “diminutive” and “infantilizing,” she responded rather harshly.
“The point is: same job, same title,” the instructor replies. “If she’s writing those poems with her cunt, then it’s a difference, but she’s not; she’s writing poems based on the fact that she has fought in two wars, which is more than her fiancée has ever done.”
That language really should have had a trigger warning beforehand. Instead of defending her point or actually answering the student’s legitimate question, she belittles and disparages his race and gender.
“Look, it’s really cute that you, as a white male, would tell me what I’m not allowed to be offended by, as a minority female. That’s really cute of you. Thank you so much for doing that; that’s called ‘mansplaining,’ so stop.”
The student asks the same question again.
“Choosing not to agree with me and through that you’re choosing to explain why I should agree with you coming from a position of privilege. Having never experienced what I’ve experienced, you’re telling me how to feel. That right there is excellent example of privilege.”
Throughout the class, male and female students had questions and issues with the message that the teacher was attempting to convey.
When a male student says he would like to debate the teacher she responds with very combative language, “You can, but I’ll rip you apart.” In a time when college students are clamoring for safe spaces and fighting against microagressions, should a teacher really be telling a student that she will “rip you apart?”
The aggressive and violent tone of the teacher’s lesson reared its ugly head throughout the lesson.
“I’m not a little woman, I’m a woman who happens to be 5-foot-tall, I could freakin’ destroy you if I chose.” She then calls the younger male student “honey,” and she also called a female student “darling,” both of which many women have declared those types of words to be dismissive and derogatory.
Then teacher, who allegedly competed in beauty pageants, reveals her personal ideology that might be dictating the tone of the linguistics course.
“I’ mean Y’all know I’m a dirty liberal, y’all know I’m like a third generation in a long line of angry fervent feminists,” she declares. “And that’s pretty much the kind of input you’re going to get from me.”
Let me repeat, this is a “Introduction to Linguistics” course not a “Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies” class. This instructor is pushing her own agenda on a subject that is not critical to the curriculum.
When a female student questions the teacher about the French language having grammatical gender, even though the instructor just said that the French language does not having grammatical gender, she regretfully admits that technically it does, but fires back, “Look, y’all are entitled to your wrong opinions.”
This is a small clip of the instructor’s pontification, the full audio can be found at the end of the article.
The instructor opens up her lesson by explaining the concept of othering. One definition of othering is as follows:
Any action by which an individual or group becomes mentally classified in somebody’s mind as “not one of us”. Rather than always remembering that every person is a complex bundle of emotions, ideas, motivations, reflexes, priorities, and many other subtle aspects, it’s sometimes easier to dismiss them as being in some way less human, and less worthy of respect and dignity, than we are.
She states that “othering comes across in a lot of different relationships of power and privilege, but it is extremely clear in gendered language with the assumption of maleness.” So already, she is setting the tone that male privilege is so horrible, even in language.
The debate started when the teacher asserted that the suffixes “-ette” and “–ess” were are “diminutive” and “infantilizing.” I can almost see her point for certain uses of “-ette” since the definition is “a noun suffix occurring originally in loanwords from French, where it has been used in a variety of diminutive and hypocoristic formations.”
She brings the argument against “bachelorette” and how it has connotations that it is less important, but that’s just not true in every use of the word, it can simply make a female distinction.
For instance, if we get rid of the “ette” in “bachelorette” there is going to be some issues. Let’s say I get invited to a bachelor party at a house and I show up and everyone is female, wearing penis hats, sipping appletinis from penis straws, then all of a sudden I’m getting a lap dance from a gentleman named “Chuck” dressed in a leather police man outfit who works at Chippendale’s. This could be very traumatizing or a life-altering moment because it is much different from the “bachelor” party that I was anticipating.
The suffix “-ess” denotes female persons such as “hostess” and “waitress.” It just means the female version of those jobs, but does not mean that they are not equal to their male counterparts. When a woman is an esteemed position of a doctor, a lawyer, a judge, she is called a “doctor,” a “lawyer” and a “judge.”
She cites that her female poet is called a “poetess,” but she states that she is being called a “poetess” mostly in the Middle East. Now I have never even heard of the word “poetess” until this very moment.
So let’s get rid of the “-ess” suffix and see how females like being called a “host” and a “waiter.” I’d be afraid to try for fear of being slapped.
The instructor refers to the word “governess,” and it means a woman employed to teach children in a private household, but the word “governor” means the elected executive head of a state of the United States. However, of the 37 women who have served or are serving as the governor of a U.S. state they are always refereed to as “governor.”
Prof. Rochelle Newman, chair of the Hearing and Speech Sciences Department, told CampusReform” target=”_blank”>Campus Reform that “this is an unfortunate incident,” but noted that “my understanding is that the recording was from 2014,” stating that there is a possibility that it features any of the course’s current instructors.
While this is over a year old, I think its important to expose instructors and professors who are pushing a personal agenda instead of the college curriculum that students and their parents are paying so much money for.