Man Oh Man! My Response to Princeton U Banning the ‘M’ Word

Nassau Hall, the original building and current administration building of Princeton University.

By Michael Brown Published on August 22, 2016

The Human Resources department at Princeton wants to ban the “m” word — as in “man.”

As Tom Cicotta reported on, “In an increased effort to be politically correct, a new inclusive language policy from administrators at Princeton University is seeking to end the usage of gender-specific words like ‘man’ on campus.”

Yes, students must “refrain from the use of gendered language,” since the gender binary of male and female “does not take into consideration individuals who identify as otherwise, including and not limited to transgender, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and/or intersex.”

What, exactly, does this look like in practice?

Instead of saying “average man,” students are urged to say, “average person” or “ordinary person.”

And rather than saying, “best man for the job” they should say, “best person for the job,” while “layman” should be replaced with “layperson” or “non-specialist.”

Of course, “man and wife” has to go, being replaced by the far superior “spouses” or “partners,” while “man hours” is to be replaced by “person hours” or “work hours.” (I can hear someone ask, “So, how many person hours will it take to complete this job?”)

Naturally, “manpower” is out, to be replaced by “personnel” or “staff” or “workers” or “workforce,” while even “manmade” is off limits, to be replaced by “artificial, handmade, manufactured, or synthetic.”

And God forbid you use the word “workmanlike,” since that nasty “m” word is hidden right there in plain sight. Instead, students should say, “skillful.”

What was my response in hearing the news? Well, I was taken aback to read the report, since it struck me as the latest example of PC semantic insanity. But I’m a quick learner, and soon enough, I found myself exclaiming, “Person alive! That’s not bad at all.”

“Yes,” I thought to myself, “I’m glad that Princeton finally humaned up and did what was right. They’re challenging our traditional patriarchy where it hurts, hitting us right in our semantic breadbasket.

And then my mind began to race. The possibilities were almost endless.

A mafia leader will now hire a “hit individual” to take out his rival. That tough strong leader will now be “the big boss person,” while that honest male individual will be a “human of its word.” This is really incredible.

We will now sing that “the candy person can” (hey, who cares about a lost rhyme?), we’ll talk about a band’s “front human,” and we’ll say that “the way to an individual’s heart is through its stomach.” (Yes, I know this was supposed to be about men, but that’s part of the old sexist thinking that we have to reject.)

I got so excited that I finally exclaimed, “Human oh human!” — and then I realized that something was still terribly wrong. Rather than banning the “man” word, Princeton had simply disguised it. After all, why do we say human as opposed to huwoman?

Why must “man” always prevail? Isn’t this further proof of just how dominant and privileged male culture is, not only in our society but also in our language? (Some have even claimed that the alphabet itself has been used to suppress females.)

It looks like Princeton has more work to do, and I offer this challenge to the school’s HR department: Prove yourself to the world and answer the question: Are you an individual or are you a mouse? (Hey, since I can’t say, “Are you a man or are you a mouse,” and since we’ve now eliminated “human” as well, what are we left with? Perhaps, we could ask, “Are you a person or a mouse?”, but that also loses that m-m alliteration in the process, plus some ladies are afraid of mice. This is getting tough!)

What makes this all the more ironic is that Princeton was founded in 1746 as the College of New Jersey, with the school motto, “Under God’s Power She Flourishes.” And until 1902, every president of Princeton was a minister.

Although seminary training was the school’s first goal, its founding purpose went beyond that: “Though our great Intention was to erect a seminary for educating Ministers of the Gospel, yet we hope it will be useful in other learned professions — Ornaments of the State as Well as the Church.”

Yes, Princeton began with the goal of raising up people of the cloth (aka, individuals of the cloth) but was also happy if those they trained took their solid Christian education and character into every area of society. (Today, that would be called theocratic dominionism.)

As for the makeup of the student body, Princeton did not admit its first female undergraduate students until 1969. (Yes, 1969!)

To all of this I can only say, “Individual alive! It’s great that Princeton is co-ed, but perhaps they have overcompensated for their male-heavy past?”

For my video commentary on this, click here.

Print Friendly
Comments ()
The Stream encourages comments, whether in agreement with the article or not. However, comments that violate our commenting rules or terms of use will be removed. Any commenter who repeatedly violates these rules and terms of use will be blocked from commenting. Comments on The Stream are hosted by Disqus, with logins available through Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or G+ accounts. You must log in to comment. Please flag any comments you see breaking the rules. More detail is available here.
  • Gary

    I long ago realized that an “Ivy League education” was a joke. And the Ivy League “schools” keep proving me right.

    • islanddean

      An “ivy league education only means the buildings are old and rotten, the same as the people in them.

  • MofPennsy

    “Hu-WHAT”??!! Hard to believe that gaffe. To insult a fexxxx perxxx that much! Almost as bad as that display of whiskers in your profile pic!

  • 6thinclass

    I must say that it seems that Michael Brown is behind the times! It is a good article don’t misunderstand me. This “man”, “woman” distinction has been phased out for quite some time. My postman/mailman became my mail carrier. Yep, it’s pretty ironic what has become politically correct!

    • Darren M Bradshaw

      I had the exact same thought. While I agree with Dr. Brown’s sentiment, I was surprised that Princeton hadn’t done this decades ago.

    • islanddean

      Not by all of us, I’ll be a holdout for as long as I live, whether they like it or not.

  • Charles Burge

    Many years ago, the late Chicago columnist Mike Royko wrote a column to highlight the absurdity of this line of thinking. He wrote that some were upset at the term “alderman” (a kind of city council position), but Mr. Royko pointed out that the word “alderperson” contains the word “son”. After considering some other terms that were equally offensive, he settled on the term “aldercreature”. (In case missed it, the column was a delicious piece of satire).

    Similarly, I recall reading about someone in San Francisco who wanted to expunge the word “manhole” from all official city documents. I think she had suggested something like “Personal Utility Access Portal” or some such nonsense.

    Meanwhile, I just got done watching some women’s soccer during the Olympic games, and I noticed that the female commentator had no issues at all using the term “man-to-man” when speaking about the female players. I guess that all goes to show where the sensible people are these days, and where they aren’t.

    • Ben Sheets

      Whoops.. “aldercreature” unfortunately won’t work… this implies that we are created, which reminds us once again of the God who made us “male and female”… try again. :-/

  • James Chilton

    “Mankind” is a very bad word – discriminatory and insulting.

  • Billy Chickens

    This will affect movie titles as well. The 1966 French film, “A Man and a Woman” would have had to have been titled “A Person and Another Person”. “A Man for All Seasons” would have had to have been “A Human for All Seasons”, etc. Then there’s Helen Reddy’s song, “I Am Woman.” That will now have to be “I Am Zir”.

Gotta Serve Somebody
Joe Dallas
More from The Stream
Connect with Us