It was 1978 and I was eight and a half months pregnant as I sat, uncomfortably, listening to a professor at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities tell my class that for every non-inclusive, sexist term in our papers, we would be marked down one whole grade. Half my class was female, unheard of in 1978, and I felt totally liberated – until my paper came back, marked with red ink, and lacking any grade at all. It didn’t take long to liberate my language as well.
But when I moved to Louisiana in 1980, the inclusive language of a Minnesota seminary became Yankee feminist language, aggressive and unwanted. As a student in the Graduate School of Social Work at Louisiana State University I was told that my diligence in language was neither appreciated nor appropriate to the culture. Unfortunately for my adjustment to a new town, I never did learn to hold my tongue, or to again construct blinders for my eyes. Instead I started examining other words and images for the perceptions that they created.
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