I wonder how Mr. Yager, a man, would feel if I referred exclusively to first year students as "freshwomen."
He would tell me I'm being "politically correct" but would he call me out for oppressive language if I call all first-year students "freshmen?"
Mr. Yager asks us to consider the Declaration of Independence, questioning what would happen if the founding fathers had included every single label. I ask him to consider the fact that at the time it was written the groups he mentions – women, African Americans, non-landowning white men – were not considered people in the eyes of the law. That was self-evident to Thomas Jefferson. They weren't "all" created equal and indeed the language reflected that. White men were people. The rest of us? Well, we weren't.
To Mr. Yager we're all just people. This is because, sir, you're not routinely seen as a subcategory or special group of human. After all, George Washington wasn't our first white male president, he was just our first president.
Mr. Yager, please don't ask me to give up my labels. I'm statistically likely to earn 78 cents to your $1 due to my femaleness. My marriage won't be federally acknowledged because of my queerness. When I ask you to call me a queer woman it's because I don't want to be lumped into groups that are assumed to have certain privileges that I don't. When I ask you to remember my differences it is because those differences make my life significantly more difficult. I'm terribly sorry you have to adjust your language.
How about this: I won't ask you to refer to humanity as "humankind" instead of "mankind" when you make sure that one in four women won't be sexually assaulted, when you make sure that Black men are not put on death row at nearly four times the rate of white men accused of similar crimes. Fair deal?
Emma Jean Liberman
Womyn's Action Coalition President