I’ve heard some goofy stuff come out of English courses during my time in college, but I’ve never had a professor tell the class not to use a certain word or phrase. However, as
The College Fix
reports, that’s exactly what’s going on at Miami University in Ohio.
In the syllabus for 17
c English Literature, Professor James Bromley sets aside an entire paragraph-length bullet to explain why he requests his students not use the words “female” or “females” as nouns. “Avoid using the words ‘female’ or ‘females’ as nouns when you mean woman or women,” the syllabus explains, “It may not be your intent, but these words, when used as nouns, have historically often carried deprecatory connotations…”
I’ve had some
—as an English major, it was to be expected—but I’ve never had one explicitly ban the use of any kind of term. Hell, I’ve quoted works by Toni Morrison including slurs, and I’ve never been told to censor anything. Just for yucks, I just did a word search in two graduate papers I wrote, and both of them include the use of “female(s)” as nouns numerous times. You would think my female professors would have let me in on the negative connotations.
But then, a quick look at Bromley’s research interests gives us a glimpse into his worldview and a reason why he might want to erase those terms—especially, as it seems, he doesn’t approach “male” or “males” in the same way.
According to The College Fix, his research interests are 16
c drama, poetry, and prose; Shakespeare; and “history of sexuality and queer theory.” There it is:
. The school of thought that brought us such
as the infinite list of genders. As transgender individuals seek to erase anything female, it seems a little too on the nose that a professor would literally attempt to erase the term from his students’ lexicon.
“Woman” is a perfectly fine term to use, but
what is a woman
? Nobody really knows, do they?