The following is based on an actual incident that occurred when I was attending the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota some years ago. Our professor had informed my class that we would be writing several papers that semester. He went on to say that the use of the masculine form would be strictly prohibited. He told the class, “The feminine is fine and neuter is permissible, but anyone using the masculine at any time on any of these papers will have their work automatically disqualified. As an example, substitute the word ‘person’ for man. Anytime you were going to use ‘m..a..n’ use ‘person’ instead. Clear? Of course, you could use ‘woman’ in place of ‘man’ as well.” True story.
Being the rebel that I am, I raised my hand and asked him a question…well, actually a couple of them.
“First off, is this a business class, or did I accidentally wander into a women’s study course?” Glaring from the prof.
“Also, if we are to use ‘person’ instead of ‘man,’ we’d have to write ‘woperson,’ not ‘woman,’ in place of ‘man.’ Seems kinda confusing. Guess it's just me. Oh, well…at least it’s neutral. I'll go with it. Okay?”
More glaring and then, “Are you quite done?”
So, as my first paper, I wrote the following instead.
“What This Class Has Meant to Me: A Look Back After Twenty Years”
I am so glad I was accepted to the Carlson School of Personagement! Attending this business class, with its politically correct writing persondate has fundamentally changed my values, belief system and daily outlook on life. My new persontra is this: let’s throw off the personacles those affluent white Anglo-Saxon Protestants have placed on our wrists and ankles! And minds! Those greedy few with their personicured lawns who personipulate the rest of personkind for their own benefit. Person, they make me mad!
I admit, after the first class I felt my personhood was challenged. When I questioned you in class I could see in your eyes you thought I held personiacal ideas and you depersonded that I comply with your rules. I personaged to control my temper even though I felt that the class was being needlessly personipulated and personeuvered by this persondatory grammar usage. Am I glad I did!
I decided I didn’t want to go into business. Didn’t want to work for “the person!” I was now restless, growing. I wanted to do things I hadn’t done, see things I hadn’t seen, think things I hadn’t thought, feel things I hadn’t felt! I wanted to trash everything that came before me! It was so enlightening, person! I wanted nothing more than peace and free love for all! (Except for those heinous WASP’Y Columbus descendants who’ve raped the planet. To hell with their “Personifest Destiny!”)
So I went to Personhattan, New York. (Where I almost fell into a personhole!) Then I visited persongrove swamps on the Gulf Coast and communed with personatees. I went to Personitoba, Canada. I even started playing the persondolin. I read the Communist Personifesto. I was becoming a real person!
But something happened. Perhaps it was because, being out of school, there was no one (except the mainstream media) to tell me exactly what to think and do. And to tell me what is right (political correctness) and what is wrong (intolerance) even while claiming everything is really a grey area.
I became lost. I drifted awhile. I went into personual labor for a time. I started eating bourgeoisie food like Personwhiches. (Remember those?) I bought a Mickey Persontle baseball card. I didn’t make persony friends. I tried writing personuscripts. Hollywood didn’t like them, even though I never used the masculine form. Then an odd thing happened. I started getting some of my own thoughts and feelings. Soon, I was formulating my own ideas and opinions…even values. It got so bad I almost became that personification and personifestation of capitalism, a personufacturer’s rep.
Yet, amazingly, I personaged to scrape by, get married and have kids. As I sit here now on my ottoperson, I am happy. It is Christmastime and I’m listening to “Away in the Personger.” I always liked that song. I live in the suburbs, yet I don’t feel guilty.
And I’ve finally realized something. That whole “writing” exercise in your class? It wasn’t to enlighten, it was to obfuscate. It was all horse personure! But I did okay, anyway. I think for myself, now. I am free.
And that’s why I’m glad I took your “business” class at the ironically named Carlson School of Management.
Man, it felt good to get that off my chest! So, cheers.
And, by the way, fuck you.
Care to guess what grade I was given?
(I recalled this story because Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) offered the opening prayer of the 117th Congress recently — ending the invocation with "amen and a-woman." Cleaver's preposterous choice of words came after Democrats proposed eliminating all "gendered" language from the House rules, instead opting for "gender-inclusive" language.)