Published On: Wed, Sep 16th, 2015

NC State students will be punished for using ‘sexist’ pronouns, ‘mankind’ and no ‘him’ or ‘her’

A women’s and gender studies lecturer at North Carolina State University is docking her students’ grades for using “sexist language” in class assignments. The criteria is “Generalized pronouns,” according to a portion of a syllabus obtained by The College Fix.

The directive is aimed at students in Nancy Bishop’s online class “Women and Poverty.”

“Thanks to evolution, generalized pronouns and other biased references are no longer acceptable in any class,” the syllabus reads in a section on “Non-Sexist Language.”

“You may NOT use ‘he’ or ‘him’ or ‘man’ to refer to both men and women,” it continues. Bishop tells students they can replace “mankind” with “humans” or “humankind,” and should write “she or he” instead of just “he,” though the syllabus is unclear on whether students should always lead with a female pronoun.

“Grades will be docked for sexist language in assignments,” the section concludes. It doesn’t specify how students should address gender identities outside of the male-female binary.


Bishop told The Fix in an email that she requires students to abide by these language directives because of the vulgar language of previous students.

“When addressing women in an academic setting—especially an online one, some students feel that by being behind a computer keyboard they are ‘free’ to address women and even women addressing men as something other than what is really respectful,” Bishop said.

This image is from a collection commissioned by the United States Department of Transportation and designed by AIGA.

This image is from a collection commissioned by the United States Department of Transportation and designed by AIGA.

“I have had students call women ‘bitches’ and ‘gold digging ho’s’ or label women as ‘maid’s or the dishwasher’—etc. and some female students label men as ‘typical ass chasing dicks’, etc.,” she said.

Bishop portrayed the language rules as necessary to use time wisely in class and prevent tempers from flaring.

“I would have to spend the semester ‘putting out fires’ instead of spending that valuable time teaching. This also opens up the ideal to students that we can live and function in a world without sexism,” she said.

North Carolina State doesn’t forbid the use of “generalized pronouns” as a school, professors are allowed to set their own rules for class, a university spokesman said in an email to The Fix.

The spokesman added that it is not standard practice at the school to dock points from students for using purportedly sexist language in class.

“The university is dedicated to the transmission and advancement of knowledge and understanding,” the spokesman said. “Academic freedom is essential to the achievement of these purposes.”

Bishop isn’t the first teacher to punish students academically for politically incorrect language.

Selena Lester Breikks, who is listed as a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender & Race Studies at Washington State University, goes much further in her syllabus for “Women & Popular Culture.”

As reported by Campus Reform, Breikks lists a wide range of language as “oppressive and hateful” – not only “The Man,” “Colored People” and “Tranny,” but also “referring to women/men as females or males.”

While promising that she will correct such language in class as a “learning moment” for students, Breikks threatens much worse for “repeated use” of verboten terms, “including but not limited to removal from the class without attendance or participation points, failure of the assignment, and – in extreme cases – failure for the semester.”




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- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco


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