Friday, November 11, 2011

This week, I am grading a set of short analytical papers... They are so-so, few are  outright illiterate, so that's a relief, but I am still so happy when I get a well-written paper that I almost overlook the argument. And then a student, well, several, handed in papers addressed to MRS grits. I just had to briefly vent on Facebook. The ensuing discussion convinced me that FB, far from being a time sucker, facilitates deep international discussions out of a brief rant:
Me: Mrs. Grits ! MRS! A student hands in a paper for MRS Grits! Feh!!
Peter (Australia): They translated from the German: Frau.

Me: Nice try but not quite. Oy! Hey! It's not funny! It's infuriating!... I'm kidding and and aggrieved after a litany of based off of, but more profit off ofs. Sigh. abhinc 17 horas ·

Peter (Australia): Students following corporate-speak blindly ... I've seen such crap from from PR releases abhinc 17 horas ·

Mary (US): Oy, I got a based off of too. Makes me nuts. I also get "Mrs." I think it's a Southern thing. I get it occasionally in stores and businesses. When I inform check-out counter people that the generic for a woman is Ms. just as the generic for a man is Mr., they have no clue. And then there are people for whom Ms. means "Miss." No Ma'am. (I have no problem with Ma'am aside from the fact that it makes me feel a little old.) If I use Ms. it means I use it before, during, and after marriage. Or without marriage. Heck, my mother has Ms. on her address labels and she's 93 and the most married person I know. (Amusing story: a telemarketer, back when I talked to them -- now the answering machine answers all calls at home and it screens 'em right out-- called and said "May I speak with Mrs. Miller?" I replied "There's no Mrs. Miller here." Which was true! Earlier I said to one, "That's my mother," but that was before the above-mentioned address labels. Though she uses Mrs. too, but mostly she just says "call me Sally" and dispenses with the titles.

These students should call you Dr. Grits  ! Or Professor Grits! Mrs, feh indeed. I bet they call the male professors Dr.
abhinc 17 horas ·

Me: Yes, they should. Might be time for a talk on gender and norms talk in class.  

Laura (Switzerland): As long as they don't call you Miss Teacher ;-) abhinc 16 horas · ·

Anna (US): Once at a meeting with a large group of students present, a high-ranking administrative assistant addressed the male professors who were involved as "Dr.," and called me "Ann." After the meeting I wrote an email and asked her to call me Dr. in front of students, as she did the male faculty members. She didn't even seem to realize that what she was doing was condescending. Before I came here, students were calling professors by their first names in our department and were so disrespectful - too immature to handle the privilege of doing that. I came in and said I wanted to be called Dr. Smith, and started calling the other faculty by their titles. What is really aggravating is when they call our TM (code, not translatable on Facebook), who does not have a doctorate, "Dr." abhinc 16 horas ·

Me: Oh Ann how infuriating! Yes, it's really a gender issue. I notice that students behave in a much more respectful manner towards my male colleagues and I don't think I come across as too cozy (my accent alone is scary!). Sigh. It is difficult to change a place's culture. I don't mind being called koshergrits, but not in a place where everybody else is Dr. XY. Tssssssssssssss.

Shoshana (UK): @Ann, it seems to be common practice to address your TAs, supervisors and lecturers who have yet to complete their doctorates as "Dr" and not "Dr-to-be." I notice you have no such problem when applied in the other direction, e.g. many undergrads referring to lecturers as 'professors,' particularly in america, despite said having doctorates and tenure, not professorships. abhinc 16 horas ·

Ann (US): Shoshana,  when I was teaching while getting my doctorate, students just called me "Mrs." But when a male without a doctorate does adjunct teaching, he is often called 'Professor.' There is no rhyme or reason to it. Here, the title "professor" is used very loosely. Technically, I am a "assistant professor," but no one uses that title. Many faculty at the college where I teach just go by first names, but this just does not work in the music department, partly because music is assumed to be a soft, easy subject in this country - and we have to be assertive about changing that perception. I noticed when I was a student that women who allowed students to call them by their first names were not respected in the same way as the men were, even if they were highly successful and tenured. I could conceivably let graduate students use my first name, but not young students. And of course unlike in Europe, or Germany at least, you can be a "professor" and have only a master's degree, rather than habilitation. Some of the senior tenured faculty members without doctorates do not like it when younger faculty use their Dr. title because Dr is the more respected title here. abhinc 11 horas ·

Lisa (Israel): Do you do the old "I don't have a husband, but I do have a Ph.D., so you can call me Dr."? (It's even better when you're at a religious school and have an out-of-wedlock daughter. they never make that mistake twice). abhinc 8 horas ·

Nils (Denmark) Per over here in rain-drenched Scandinavia, everybody would be calling you by your first name, regardless of age, gender and rank. AND having you here would mean a much-needed hike to the average IQ as well as the average sense of humour around the place. Only trouble is, the single vacant position at the moment is in Assyriology -- but you could tell them you read the Bavli ...Am I right that in German it's impolite to say Fraülein if you're in doubt, since it seems etymologically to imply "less than Frau"?   (it was around 1980 that somebody pointed this out to me, so could have changed, I know) abhinc 8 horas ·

Laura (Switzerland:) Fräulein is the equivalent to Miss (or Mademoiselle, or Señorita for that matter, which both sounds so much nicer) and is NEVER used in Germany except in an intentionally condescending manner. Or sometimes in jest with little girls. It is actually not such a bad word and was used, in the olden days, to distinguish non-married from married women. But of course today it has all kinds of implications.I personally think those antiquated expressions should be used much more often, maiden is lovely, even in German, die Maid. Very antiquated :-)  BTW I have the opposite "problem". I am constantly being called Doctor even though I don't have a doctorate. I am "only" a physician, Arzt (or Ärztin, for feminist-minded people). And that does not always come with a "MD". :-)

Dina (Israel): i much prefer the Yiddish מיידעלך. my students call me Dina. i'm not sure if i would respond to Dr. Cohen. Dr. Cohen is my grandpa, the physician... but i just had to call MY professor, and found it very hard to ask for "Dan" on the phone. i'm trying to avoid to call im as much as possible...abhinc 2 horas ·  

Nils (Denmark): hehe, I know that feeling. A professor at that I did some assistant work for -- arguably the planet-wide no. 1 in his field -- graciously accepted to be on the committee evaluating my thesis, and immediately after the defense informed me, that I would now have to call him by his first name. That took some getting used to.

Laura (Switzerland): Och, in Switzerland, all women are DAS: Das Heidi, das Vreni, das Fränzi... It's just a diminutive... Das Maitli... Das Büebli....

Nils (Denmark): to be fair to the German language, isn't it automatic that any -lein and -chen noun becomes grammatical neuter? (Small dog = Hundchen, and -- voila -- the creature changed it's grammatical gender, but may be a he or she dog none the less) abhinc 5 minutas ·  

Me: Nils: don't tell me you think it-s a coincidence that Germans don't say Herrlein, die Rechnung bitte! abhinc 5 minutas · ·  

Nils (Denmark): no doubt whatsoever that you're right there; I only meant that the grammatical phenomenon itself of turning masculine and feminine nouns into neuter when they're diminutive, is applied regardless of gender. The social choice of USING diminutives for women is of course no coincidence :-)... actually there was a satirical Norwegian novel in the 70'es that reversed the phenomenon and had the Danish/Norwegian equivalent of "Herrlein" all over the place (not to mention having young males wear the equivalent of a bra to support their anatomical protuberances)

Me: I read that novel, I LOVED it! Of course, I was 16 but still. 

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