At an All-Women’s College, You Can’t Call Them ‘Women’ Anymore
It's gender-neutral politics in overdrive as professors are urged to drop the word entirely, use 'student' instead
Since its inception in 1837, Mt. Holyoke College, set in South Hadley, Massachusetts, has been graduating luminaries — such as poet Emily Dickinson, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and a myriad of other individuals.
As the first of the Seven Sisters — a consortium of prestigious East Coast liberal arts colleges for women and the female equivalent to the once all-male Ivy League — Mount Holyoke is now urging its professors to drop the word “women” from their vernacular when referring to their students, according to the school’s website.
In other words: At an all-women’s college, you should no longer call a woman a woman.
In an effort to promote a so-called gender-neutral environment, officials at Mt. Holyoke College, with a population of about 2,200 students, created the Supporting Trans and Non-Binary Students guide, which is found on the school’s website under the “diversity, equity and inclusion in the classroom” section.
To an outsider, the effort seems like wasted energy, especially considering that the admissions team at Mt. Holyoke does not keep track of how many students self-identify as trans or non-binary — and that the school’s student population is quite small.
Strangely, though, the college’s home page reads: “Imagine if every day were International Women’s Day.” It appears that not everyone at the school got the memo about rejecting the word “women” across the campus.
LifeZette reached out to Mt. Holyoke for clarification and comment, but did not hear back before publication.
Michelle Cretella, a medical doctor based in Providence, Rhode Island, and the president of the American College of Pediatricians, called out Mt. Holyoke’s efforts for what they really are: more of the same PC that has turned liberal arts colleges today into indoctrination and recruitment centers for the Left.
“Mainstream academe, medicine, psychology and law have sacrificed morality, and therefore, inevitably, science and sanity, too, on the altar of political correctness,” she told LifeZette in an email.
“Radical feminists are correct when they argue that to embrace transgender ideology in our language erases ‘woman’ in law,” she added. “Transgender language eliminates women from every public institution from the family forward. If anyone can be a woman simply by declaring one so, then there is no such thing as woman — or man. You cannot eliminate half of humanity in language without eliminating humanity itself.”
Mt. Holyoke does not appear to see it that way. The school seems bent on making something out of nothing, as a paragraph from the website’s diversity pages reveals:
Many students spend the first day of class braced against various types of disrespect — professors who mispronounce their names, call them by the wrong name entirely, misgender them, and so on. Students who are worried about not being treated with respect can’t concentrate on what we’re saying. Here you will find a few reliable techniques to establish mutual respect with students in the first class meeting.
Seriously? When did an honest and everyday mistake like the mispronunciation of a name turn into a vile and blatant act of disrespect?
Like too many other universities nationwide, Mt. Holyoke appears driven by an agenda of identity politics, as its gender neutral-affirming suggestions shown below reveal. Still, officials may want to revisit if and how restricting anyone’s language actually prepares students for life beyond the insular college town of South Hadley — population 17,300.
Some “guidelines” for professors, as noted by Mt. Holyoke’s guide:
- “Avoid making statements like ‘We’re all women here’ or referring to the two genders.”
- “Invite your students to let you know if you misgender them so that you can avoid doing so in the future.”
- “Use gender-neutral language whenever possible, but certainly in your syllabus and other general written communication.”
- “Whenever possible, avoid making assumptions. For example, don’t assume someone is or isn’t a Mt. Holyoke student based on your perception of their gender.”
- “Avoid making assumptions about how students experience their own genders, even if they’ve named a particular identity.”
Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.