Editor’s note: Columnist Joseph Farah was musing about what he would say if he had the chance to address Democratic National Committee in hopes of exploring common ground. In his daydream, he never got beyond the first three words.
Me: “Ladies and gentlemen …”
Them: Stop right there, buster! You can’t say that. It’s not inclusive enough. And don’t you know that calling women “ladies” is patently offensive? And, for that matter, your entire salutation is so bourgeois. “Ladies and gentlemen,” indeed! What about those who experience gender dysphoria? What about gender identity disorder? Do you realize just using a salutation like that could bring to the surface memories of past trauma in the form of an intended or unintended micro-aggression?
What planet are you from? What century? Do you not understand that women find the term “ladies” patronizing at best and sexist at worst?
For goodness’ sake, William Safire figured that one out in 2008.
And gentlemen? Did you notice you don’t find that word on the doors of many restrooms any longer? There’s a reason. It’s archaic.
Me: Well, how would you like me to start – “men, women and others”?
Them: That’s so insulting. Of course not. What about “People of all genders”?
Me: You’re kidding right?
Them: No, we’re not kidding. We don’t kid around in the Democratic National Committee. But here’s another alternative for you. How about “gentlepersons”?
Me: I’m not going to say that. It sounds …
Them: It sounds what? What were you going to say?
Me: It sounds … weird.
Them: That’s not what you were going to say, was it? You were going to say it sounded “queer.”
Me: No, I wasn’t.
Them: Yes you were.
Me: Well, how do you know what I was going to say?
Them: Because we know your type.
Me: My type? What do you mean by “my type”?
Them: We’ve got your number. I’m beginning to think that microaggression right in your salutation was intended rather than unintended. You’re just not sensitive to the oppression women have endured throughout the history of Western civilization. You’re just not tolerant of people who are different, and you are eager to put them all in your old-fashioned, white-bread bag. Why didn’t you just wear your Klan suit to this speech? Don’t you know this is the party of diversity?
Me: I was just trying to find common ground. How about this? Dear LGBTQIA friends …
Them: That’s better! That’s a lot better.
Me: But I don’t even know what it means. I can’t even remember what those initials stand for. And why do we need so many? Aren’t we all just “ladies and gentlemen” at the end of the day – no matter what our sexual proclivities might me?
Them: “Proclivities!” We’re not talking about “proclivities” here, mister! We’re talking about gender identification.
Me: So when we’re talking about gender, we’re not talking about sexual preferences?
Them: No sir! That phrase, “sexual preferences,” was obsolete by the late 1970s. Where have you been? These are fixed conditions – about which we have no choice.
Me: No choice? Then why do some choose surgery to become something else?
Them: Because they’re just fulfilling their genetic destiny, the desire of their heart.
Me: But I thought you can’t do that? I thought everything was fixed – and you can’t change who you are and what you are when it comes to sexual identity?
Them: Don’t you get it? “Sex” refers to the biological differences between males and females, such as the genitalia and genetic differences. “Gender” is a state of mind – the individual’s concept of themselves.
Me: So our gender identity cannot change, except if you choose surgery?
Them: We’re thinking about that …
Me: May I just suggest that “ladies and gentlemen” is simply a salutation of civility? It is neither intended to offend anyone, nor should it. I will admit I made two mistakes using it with this audience – assuming there would be ladies and gentlemen in a room of Democratic leaders and, second, that you would understand civility and good manners.
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