"Effective Spring 2015, the policy is to eliminate the use of gendered salutations and references in correspondence to students, prospective students and third parties.
" Memo from Louise Lennihan, Provost, City University of New York (CUNY) to all faculty and administrators. The use of the terms "Mr." and "Ms.", Lennihan explained was now forbidden, because they might be "offensive" to some students.
It is funny, i.e. strange, how ideologies and philosophies as they evolve and become more extreme, morph and shape shift until they become bizarre negative images of themselves. It is as if the further you go out on one extreme the nearer you come to your polar opposite.
Witness Communism. If you read early Communist writers from the 1800's, as I have done extensively, what you see are the thoughts and desires of men and women face to face with the crushing brutality and inhumanity of life for the working class during the Industrial Revolution. These thinkers looked at a world of seven day a week, 12 hour a day labor, grinding poverty and rampant disease and dreamed of something warmer, cozier and more humane. They imagined a world in which everyone was the same, everyone shared equally in life's rewards, no one went hungry and no one held himself above anyone else.
And, yet, somehow as that ideology evolved it twisted and turned inside out and became the horror of Stalin's Soviet Union, the madness of Mao's China and the perpetual prison state of modern North Korea.
Something similar, if not quite so dramatic, is happening now with the ideology of "gender neutrality".
We began with the most basic of American ideas, that everyone should enjoy the right to be "let alone", to live his or her life to its fullest and to be free of discrimination. If I am a married, heterosexual male, I should be able to live my life largely as I see fit. If I am a gay man, I should be no less free. I should not have to hide my sexual orientation. I should not suffer for it. I should not have to pretend I am something else. For that matter, the same applies regardless of any sexual orientation or lifestyle choice. Who I sleep with is my business as is how I dress and how I choose to think of and define myself.
The overwhelming majority of Americans have no issue with any of that. Regardless of their own personal preferences or even what they think of other lifestyles, they believe how you live your life is your business. If you want to see the most powerful possible proof of that concept take a look at the speed with which same sex marriage has been adopted across this nation. We have revolutionized marriage and domestic relations law in the United States in less than a generation.
Now, though, something very different is happening. The advocates of changes now been proposed are no longer pushing for acceptance and individual freedom. They are now pushing for exactly the opposite, conformity. That conformity, however, is no longer to traditional notions of societal organization and gender roles, it is to a new norm, which these "progressives" have decided is superior. What began as a movement to enshrine the principle of individual freedom has become an attempt to remake society.
That the Provost of a major school like CUNY could, with a straight face, send out a memo telling faculty that to refer to a student by using "gender specific" terminology is now forbidden boggles the mind. How are we to refer to students now by the way? What if I am a teacher, and I need to address someone whose name I do not know? Is "guy in the purple shirt" now preferred? If I say, "you with the long hair, red dress and spike heels," is that acceptable or is calling attention to what might be interpreted as "gender specific" clothing patterns also now offensive?
Yet, as mad as CUNY's memo is, there are other things afoot that are even scarier.
Last fall in Nebraska material was circulated to teachers advising them that they should no longer refer to their students using any "gender specific" terminology. "Boys", "girls", gentlemen", "ladies, were all to be avoided. Instead it was suggested that children be referred to as "purple penguins" or even that each student be allowed to choose a "preferred pronoun" by which they wished to be addressed.
The extent to which the school in question ever intended to follow the guidance in these materials is unknown. What is indisputable, however, is that the material was prepared by Gender Spectrum, an advocacy group, that the suggestions were intended to be serious ones and that this is by no means the only school where the materials have been handed out.
Perhaps my favorite case of "gender neutral
" rules changes, however, comes from Kentucky, where a local high school has decided to allow boys to take gym class with and shower with the girls if they "self-identify" as being female. One wonders if the individuals who advocated and adopted this policy were ever teenagers. Will they really be surprised when 90% of the teenage boys in the school suddenly admit to a being girls trapped in men's bodies and troop into the girls locker room?
Stop the madness. If you reject all traditional gender roles, wish to raise your children in some sort of neutered environment in which men can be women, women can be men and no one is allowed to take notice of your orientation, more power to you. It is a free country. I respect your right to make your own decisions and live your own life.
All I ask of you is the same. Stop telling me what to do, what to say and how to think. Stop trying to remake society and substitute your own half-baked ideas for those grounded in tens of thousands of years of human history.
My name is Mr. Faddis.