Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Issues with addressing groups

(This is the post in which I will pretend I haven't neglected my blog). I think it comes off a little they said, then I said, in parts; but bear with me-I'm trying to get on the blogging track:

So, a few instances have popped up recently that has made me think a bit. A fairly new co-worker asked me the other day if I was from "the South". Being confused at the seemingly random question, after answering in the negative I asked her why. Oh. Because I used the word ''y'all" when addressing my table, which was apparently weird if I didn't hail from there. After saying very vaguely that it is my favorite gender neutral address, I was told that they were all ''ladies" and I totally should have totally addressed them as that.

I don't know them, or their gender; so I would never address them in a way that took for granted that. The topic, much to my dismay, gets continued fairly often. Cries of, "you did it again!", and little remarks of how I'm a "crazy vegan (though I struggle to find the relevance of this particular quip-maybe just to further emphasize how crazy I really am?) feminist" gets repeated now, and I just seriously never envisioned this thing as labeling me as such. Is addressing a group with gender neutral language that extreme? Really? How depressing. I think my next dilemma quite possibly enters that category, but even so; I think it's something to at least spend a bit of time thinking about.

I finished a short presentation with a classmate and afterwards the professor exclaimed, "thanks girls, and now I believe you two gentlemen are next?". Okay. Even assuming that the classmate I worked with identified as female, and following presenters identified male--there is no positive or helpful interpretation of that remark. It wasn't "ladies" and "gentlemen" which could have been at equal levels I suppose; it was girls. And a lot of times I think of myself as a kid, sure, (certainly at school sometimes) but this seemed deliberately dismissive; especially when put so closely with identifying two males as the latter.

What really irks me even more, as I've been trying to pin down as I've been thinking about it, is that it all seems unnecessary to me. How is it relevant what gender the presenters were (especially in a situation where all of us are getting a grade)? Is it really important to classify my customers as male or female and address them as such? No.

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