Re: studentadvising...what one shouldn't say

Douglass St.Christian (stchri@MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA)
Sat, 2 Mar 1996 10:12:11 -0500

>At 08:04 AM 3/2/96 -0500, you wrote:
>>In a message dated 96-02-29 20:02:43 EST, rohrlich@GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU (Ruby
>>Rohrlich) writes:
>>>Have you noticed that it's n ot only students who don't want to give
>>>female teachers the academic title they give to male teachers; When women
>>>teachers apply for jobs they are also routinely given the honorary marriage
>>>title in interviews. Ruby Rohrlich
>>Who are these people? Maybe I have been in urbania too long and have lost
>>touch with the small town mentality, but I have never known anyone who would
>>address a female professor firmly ensconced in academia by anything less than
>>"professor"!! Frankly, I assume that anyone not worthy of the title
>>"professor" or "Dr." (i.e., said person has only their BA or BS) should not
>>be teaching at a college/university level to begin with.
>>- Adrienne
>I did a quick thumbnail survey of 19 students in our anthropology program,
simply asking them to name the profs they were currently in courses with.
Those who used titles used them for both their male and female professors [
several simply used last names, and two used full names with no titles]. I
was curious about whether, here in the frozen north, female professors were
either routinely or ever referred to, in casual conversation, in a manner
different from their male counter partners. No sign of that. What R.R.
refers to..that is, the formal setting of job interviews...being a different
context, may well elicit a different order of titling, one which favours
male applicants with titles, and de-titles female applicants. I don't know.
But at least in this one small casual sample in Canada, a title seems to be
a title.
>Has anyone out their been de-titled in the kinds of formal settings R.R.
refers to? I'm curious, in part because language practices which favour or
at least over-value men are certainly commonplace, and in part because there
were some settings - academic job interviewing being one - where i,
intuitively, would have thought such practices were rare [ since the
honorific dr. overrides other honorifics, be they mrs. or mr. or whatever.]
>De-titling is certainly a form of insult in Samoa. Both men and women have
access to titles which confer upon them authority over their extended
families. When taking a title, the title name then becomes the paramount
part of the persons name: eg...barbara smith takes on the traditional title
margaret and so becomes margaret barbara smith. If you want to insult or
revile a titled person in conversation, you simply drop the title and refer
to them by their other common names [ so to insult maragaret barabara smith
you call her barabara smith]. To praise or otherwise mark respect for her
status as a titled person, you refer to her solely by her title = Margaret =
and do not use her untitled common names.
>So, in a situation where unmarried Dr. Barbara Smith is referred to not as
Dr. but as miss, the de-titling may well also be a form of insult. Since
detitling of female academics, at least in my experience, does not seem to
be commonplace, would we be write in assuming that rather than it being part
of a general linguistic tendency to over value or over status males, it is a
form of special insult or strategy? And so it would occur in particular
>Just curious because it is saturday morning.
douglass st.christian