All through my life, I have been awkward when talking to someone of the opposite gender. I had thought by the time I got to this stage of life, post-young, I would have left a lot of this behind. Just when I think I have a good handle on this situation, something happens setting me back at least two generations.
I was doing fine until I heard a news report giving information that the word “freshman” was no longer a politically correct word to use when speaking of college students. They are now referred to as “First-Year Students.” According to this report, the word freshman is offensive to women.
How and why it is offensive, they never did say but being in a politically correct world this word may no longer be used. This is where my confusion comes in. Where are these individuals offended by the word “freshman?” I wish they would come and explain to me how this word offends them. This word has been used for generation after generation and this is the first time it is hurting certain individuals.
I brought this to the attention of the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage to see if maybe she could shed a little bit of light on the situation. Unfortunately, she was as much in the dark about this as I was.
I try to keep up with the latest trends and I must say that I am around 18 years behind my schedule.
So, I am trying to retain a wee bit of sanity in this politically correct world around me. Frankly, I do not know why anybody wants to be politically correct. Being the sensitive kind of person that I am, I am going to give it the old college try.
I sat down with my wife and we began to figure out how that I, a very sensitive and politically correct person, could address somebody of the opposite gender.
“I guess I can still call them women,” I said with a degree of certainty in my voice.
My wife looked at me and slowly shook her head. “I’m afraid that the word ‘women,’ is offensive to some of these politically correct individuals because the word ends in ‘men,’ which is a masculine gender.”
I looked at her and scratched my head vigorously.
“It also applies,” she continued, “with the word ‘woman’ because it also ends with the masculine ‘man.’”
I never really gave this much thought before. It never occurred to me that the last three letters of a word could be offensive to someone to the point that they are offended by that word.
“So,” I said rather thoughtfully rubbing my chin, “I will have to begin calling those individuals females.” I smiled and thought I had come up with a solution. I looked at my wife to get her approval.
Shaking her head, she said, “That word is not acceptable anymore, either. If you look at the word, you will find that it ends in the word ‘male,’ and as you know that is masculine.”
I am really getting bogged down with all of this political correctness nonsense. How people can be so sensitive to be upset by a word. My father used to say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones (but words will never hurt me).”
“Well,” I said in a little bit of desperation, “I guess I’ll just have to call them lady.”
“Not so fast,” she said looking at me. “How do you spell lady? The first three letters spell the word ‘lad,’ and everybody knows a lad is a boy.”
It has been a long time since I have been this frustrated. For the life of me I do not intend to offend anybody if it all possible. I am just getting to the point where I am not sure it is going to be possible not to offend persons of the opposite gender.
I finally came up with the word I thought would solve all my political correctness dilemma. And I threw it at her. “I will just call them a person.” I was proud of my accomplishment.
Someone, no names will be mentioned, laughed hysterically at me while shaking her head.
“Buster,” she said, “you still don’t get it, do you? The word person ends with the word ‘son’ and everybody knows a son is a male child.”
I cannot call them women or woman or female or lady or person because somewhere in those words someone sees something masculine.
“I know what I’ll do,” I said to my wife with a smile dancing across my face, “whenever I see someone of the opposite gender I will shout out loud and clear ‘Hey, you.’”
“I think you’re getting worse as you go along here,” she said. “You do know what the word ‘hey’ begins with?”
I thought for a moment, sadly shaking my head, I looked at her and said, “He?”
I will never arrive at any degree of political correctness, at least during my lifetime. And, I will never understand any one of the opposite gender, whatever you call them. I do take a little consolation in God’s Word. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11 KJV).
I do not have to be politically correct when I come to God because His Word is final.
Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, PO Box 831313, Ocala, FL 34483. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 1-866-552-2543 or e-mail email@example.com. His web site is www.jamessnyderministries.com.