a slip of the tongue
November 14, 2017 1:30am CST
There's a story in the UKian news about a maths teacher who faces disciplinary action over what he claims to be a slip of the tongue. A pupil who identifies as a boy - biologically female - was in a group of pupils to whom the teacher said, Well done, girls. I don't know how big this particular bunch of pupils was, but presume the rest of them were girls. The parents complained and a week long investigation was carried out. So, the question is, would he still be facing disciplinary action if he wasn't also a part-time pastor who has made it clear that he believes that people should stick to the gender they're biologically given? He has also made it clear that, despite his beliefs, he would never impose his beliefs on anyway, particularly in a classroom environment. Either we're not getting the full story or this is purely a vendetta against him. We have tutors at work who are guilty of this type of slip of the tongue. Classes of majority girls in hairdressing, or classes of majority boys in construction, are told, Come on girls! or Come on boys! Nobody cares. The sole girl or boy just laughs, if they even notice at all. In my early teaching days I called a rather annoying fifteen year old an a-hole in front of the class! Very bad, but even the pupils could see it was a slip of the tongue caused by anger. Are we going to get to the point where everything we say has to be gender-neutral? Are we going to get to the point where a slip of the tongue can see us fired!? In our uncertain future will we be forced to have an opinion which is the same as everybody else's? By telling people that they're discriminating by saying and doing such-and-such, they're discriminating against those very people. We're giving everybody a label and placing them in a box, whilst forgetting that beliefs, thoughts, society, and the world at large are fluid and easily adaptive. Ultimately, regardless of colour, race, nationality, disability, gender, gender identification, sexual orientation, age and belief, we are all people. We all put our feet in our mouths and make vocal mistakes. None of us are perfect, and no one is more special than anyone else. We all bleed and we all die. As it stands, I have no problem with people who identify with the opposite gender to which they were biologically born. It stands to reason that it's no different to knowing you're gay from childhood. As long as it's dealt with properly from a psychological aspect then there's no harm. But by giving people power over slips of the tongue we're creating another group of people to fear and be anxious around. Acceptance goes both ways, doesn't it?
13 people like this
• Manchester, England
Your last sentence sums it up perfectly!! I heard about this story but, as I'm not aware of the full facts, I can't really offer an opinion on the 'guilt' or otherwise of this teacher. On the one hand it is being presented as a solitary slip of the tongue however I believe there are claims that it is just the latest in a sustained campaign by this teacher toward the pupil. If it's the former then everyone should just accept it was a genuine mistake and move on. If the latter then maybe the teacher has a case to answer. On a more general note I think that far too many people seem to go out of their way to take offence at any perceived insult.
5 people like this
I did wonder if there was more to the story. But wouldn't they have picked up on one of the teacher's other campaign tactics? A general Well done girls doesn't amount to much on its own. And they do. As a white heterosexual adult woman, with a husband, a degree, a mortgage and a job, I feel that I'm being insulted because nobody discriminates against me. Why does nobody care enough to discriminate against me??
Seriously....I get so tired of all this political correctness. Many years ago I had a man on the radio complain about this. The term that was being used to cover his disability had been changed to....visually impaired..... His retort....I'm blind as a bat....I see nothing...no light....no shadow....visually impaired imply I cane see something. Just say I'm blind...everyone...knows what that means.
• Manchester, England
More often than not it isn't the people affected who get offended by various bits of terminology. It's what I tend to refer to as the 'getting offended on behalf of others brigade'. These tend to be earnest, middle-aged, white, heterosexual men who decide that they know better than the people affected as to what will offend them. Just let people decide for themselves if they're offended. Quite frankly I find it offensive that someone thinks they can tell others what should offend them!!!
I suppose the term visually impaired covers all visual impairments, from completely blind to just a bit short-sighted. In effect, most of us have some form of visual impairment. The term helps peopke understand that not everyone is as blind as a bat. But he's right, and more to the point, he should have the freedom to call himself blind!
We are becoming a world of lawyers and of paranoid people who are ready to point out every little slip of the tongue people can do. I remember the old times when those who started to talk to an audience said "Good evening ladies and gentlemen". Well I find ridiculous to have to say to a class "well done girls and boys" to be sure to offend no one. You will get an hermaphrodite who will feel offended.
• Boston, Massachusetts
I was in school a long, long time ago. I remember a teacher calling a group of teen boys "girls" on purpose and it made everyone laugh. I can remember when a teacher called a teen boy "Sunshine" and the boy took great offense to it. But, to my knowledge, he survived as did the group of boys who were called girls and none of them ended up in prison or false repressed memory therapy. It's a world full of victims and you aren't anybody until you can claim victimhood. It's a social media world where victimization makes for viral fame. I just want to tell everyone to get over it. If we were all at risk of our lives and livelihoods at every slip of the tongue, no one would be safe. Heck, I not only have said the wrong thing, sometimes I type the wrong thing. Then I share it on Facebook, just for effect.
• United Kingdom
I suppose none of us can really know because we don't know these people - it's most likely that the teacher did it by accident, as we all do quite often, and it's possible that the child's parents are being overly protective and going too far because they're scared of not protecting their child effectively. It's also possible that this teacher is a no good nasty pasty who's cruel and sneaky and this family isn't going to let him get away with it. These days I'm often worried that something I say might be construed as offensive, but I'm more than happy to watch my words because my life has been comparatively easy from my privileged position and I can only begin to imagine what people go through just to be who they are on the inside. I don't feel the need to see life as a daily battle for whose feelings are more important.
• United Kingdom
PS I agree that acceptance goes both ways, and I think that most people agree with that, it's just that we see these more extreme examples in the media and that makes it seem like entire social groups are battling and making mountains out of molehills
• United Kingdom
Unfortunately that is in a school near here. There were two pupils being told 'well done'. I think the whole thing is nuts. I mean plenty of children have been called the wrong gender throughout history (I was often called a boy when I was little because I had short hair; my nephew had the reverse when he had long hair) and no-one complained - would this issue have come up if the pupil in question had been a long-haired boy I wonder? Nowadays every little thing is seen as some sort of deliberate slight to some over-sensitive individuals. And of course by describing this as 'nuts' I will now have offended all the mental health campaigners.