Banning the words male & female? Not quite

Based on the hype and misunderstanding I see on the links people post on social media, and the way some media outlets distort the truth, I am concerned that many people don’t think to look past headlines to read actual stories— and to seek out primary sources. Case in point: if you only read the headlines last week, you might think the entire University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) banned the words male and female. I did not believe the hype, so I took it upon myself to read past the headlines. This is what I found from an article in The Washington Post:

“Use of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, classist, or generally offensive language in class or submission of such material will not be tolerated,” professor Selena Lester Breikss’s syllabus read. “This includes ‘The Man,’ ‘Colored People,’ ‘Illegals/Illegal Aliens,’ ‘Tranny’ and so on — or referring to women/men as females or males.” (Breikss, 2015 as quoted by Moyer, 2015)

Notice it was only one teacher saying that the words male and female would not be tolerated, and only when used as nouns, not as adjectives. I am sure many teachers would not want students to refer to people as adjectives, just as you might not want somebody to call a blind person “a blind” or a deaf person “a deaf.”

I am not a fan of banning words, but I do believe teachers should prepare their students to be writers in the workplace. Stylebooks of publishing houses and influential associations such as the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook and American Psychological Association (APA) all have words they deprecate. Another teacher at UTK writes this in their syllabus in “A Note on [In]appropriate Terminology”:

Not “illegal alien” or “illegals” but “undocumented” migrants/immigrants/persons. Note that the Associated Press (AP) has determined not to use it: ‘The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term “illegal immigrant” or the use of “illegal” to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that “illegal” should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.’ (Fowler, 2015 as quoted by Moyer, 2015)

One may or may not agree with these professors, but it behooves one to cut through the hype and read critically to see what they actually said.

References

Moyer, J. W. (2 September 2015). Washington State University class bans ‘offensive’ terms like male, female, tranny, illegal alien. Washington, DC: The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/09/02/washington-state-university-class-bans-offensive-terms-such-as-illegal-alien-and-tranny/

Blog 2014: Adding social media links

Where I learned how to add social media buttons, and where I found them

Today, I added custom social media links to my secondary menu, which appears on the left sidebar in the Twenty-Fourteen WordPress theme I’m using now. I did this because Twenty-Fourteen doesn’t have social links in the theme, and I wanted them near the top of my blog layout. To learn how to add them, I started by reading the WordPress Support article “Add Social Media Buttons to Your Sidebar or Footer.” When I did a Google Image search of ‘free social media icons’, as suggested in the support article, I found my favorite icon set at GraphicsFuel: 20 Popular Social Media Icons (PSD & PNG). Thank you, GraphicsFuel!

What code I used

I used the HTML shown on the support article, but I amended it with a bit of CSS to put some padding (space) to the right and bottom of the buttons so they didn’t look stuck together. While I was at it, I took the width and height properties out of the HTML and put them into the CSS where they belong (since they are style, not structure). Here is a sample of the style code I added to the img element for my customization:

style="width:35px;height:35px;padding-right:5px;padding-bottom:5px;"

How it looks today

Of course things will change with time as I change themes or widgets, but here is what my blog looks like as of this writing, with the new social media button links I added to the left sidebar:

A screenshot of the front page of my blog on July 7, 2014
A screenshot of the front page of my blog on July 7, 2014

Why I wrote this

I always like to share what I learn with others who might benefit, and I like to give credit where it’s due. I hope you find it helpful. Please let me know.

Aside

Too busy to blog

Somehow I feel obliged to post something, but really I’ve been so busy prepping for classes and teaching that I really haven’t felt the need to blog or even post much of anything on social media. I finally understand why some people are not into it at all. It seems to have lost its luster for me. Anyway, perhaps I will resume blogging, but for now I am busy doing other things.