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Culture Education

University Student Has His Grade Docked for Using This ‘Offensive,’ ‘Sexist’ Word in His Term Paper

Campus Reform
Written by Campus Reform

Oh, the humanity!

Nope, can’t say that. It has ‘man’ in it. I’m sorry if that offended anyone.

Perhaps I should say hu-woman-ity. Nah, that has ‘man’ in it as well.

Maybe ‘hu-person-ity.’ That doesn’t work either. It has ‘son’ in it, and that’s masculine.

How about ‘hu-per-daughter-ity?’

Oh, but the prefix ‘hu-‘ sounds like Hugh, which is a man’s name.

The following is from Campus Reform. Apparently, some guy got his grade docked for using the word ‘mankind.’ It’s offensive and sexist:


A Northern Arizona University student lost credit on an English paper for using the word ‘mankind’ instead of a gender-neutral alternative.

Cailin Jeffers, an English major at NAU, told Campus Reform that she received an email from one of her professors, Dr. Anne Scott, informing her that she had been docked one point out of a possible 50 on a recent paper for “problems with diction (word choice)” related to her use of the word ‘mankind’ as a synonym for ‘humanity.’

“I would be negligent, as a professor who is running a class about the human condition and the assumptions we make about being ‘human,’ if I did not also raise this issue of gendered language and ask my students to respect the need for gender-neutral language,” Scott explained. “The words we use matter very much, or else teachers would not be making an issue of this at all, and the MLA would not be making recommendations for gender-neutral language at the national level.”

Scott then offered to let Jeffers revise the paper to earn additional points in five categories, including diction, but noted that she is under no obligation to do so.

“I will respect your choice to leave your diction choices ‘as is’ and to make whatever political and linguistic statement you want to make by doing so,” the professor wrote. “By the same token, I will still need to subtract a point because your choice will not be made in the letter or spirit of this particular class, which is all about having you and other students looking beneath your assumptions and understanding that ‘mankind’ does not mean ‘all people’ to all people. It positively does not.”

“After our first essay we were given a list of ‘do’s and don’ts’ based off of errors my professor found in our essays. Most of them make sense, just things like ‘make sure you’re numbering your pages’ and ‘cite in proper MLA format,’ but she said we had to be sure to use ‘gender-neutral language,’” Jeffers told Campus Reform. “Included with this rule were several examples of what was and wasn’t okay to use. In one of these examples she stated that we could not use the word ‘mankind.’ Instead, we should use ‘humankind.’ I thought this was absurd, and I wasn’t sure if she was serious.”

Jeffers decided to test the policy on her next paper by including two instances of the word ‘mankind,’ and when the paper came back with the requisite points taken off, she requested a meeting with Scott.

[RELATED: College requests ‘grammatically incorrect’ gender-neutral language]

“I stated that I agree with everything she said about my paper except my use of ‘mankind.’ She proceeded to tell me that the NAU English department, as well as the Modern Language Association, are pushing for gender-neutral language, and all students must abide by this,” Jeffers recalled. “She told me that ‘mankind’ does not refer to all people, only males. I refuted, stating that it DOES refer to all people, [but] she proceeded to tell me that I was wrong, ‘mankind’ is sexi…

Read the rest of the story at Campus Reform

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com


About the author

Campus Reform

Campus Reform

Campus Reform, a project of the Leadership Institute, is America's leading site for college news.
As a watchdog to the nation's higher education system, Campus Reform exposes bias and abuse on the nation's college campuses.
Our team of professional journalists works alongside student activists and student journalists to report on the conduct and misconduct of university administrators, faculty, and students.
Campus Reform holds itself to rigorous journalism standards and strives to present each story with accuracy, objectivity, and public accountability.

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