As I believe I've alluded to before, this campus is over 90% male. This means that at nearly every meal I eat, I am the only woman present at the table. It's an interesting dynamic; I am the honored guest as often as I'm the fly on the wall.
There have been moments like when those generous men gave up (or at least delayed) their sports talk time and asked me about my local sports teams, diverting the center of attention to me, because they'd noticed I had nothing to contribute to the sports talk. On the other hand, there have been a number of moments when unflappable Claire was a just little bit surprised that they really just said /that/ so unabashedly, with a woman sitting right next to them.
The men here (the seminarians, the priests, and the few who are neither) are very conscientious to bid adieu to "Gentlemen" and to "Claire". If they refer to a group of which I am part as "guys", they are always quick to apologize and restate with a more gender-neutral term.
On the other hand, when vulgar language is used, there is almost never an apology nodded to me, the woman who has to sit through this (even my secular office accorded me that courtesy).
I am an educated woman, with a background in foreign languages and in Catholic tradition. I understand that a mixed group is referred to by the masculine plural. As a personal stylistic choice, I actually prefer "brethren"!
I have no opposition to vulgar language, especially when used appropriately. But I like to think of myself as a lady. I intentionally refrain from using such words for propriety's sake.
It's not that I'm upset or offended. And it's not everyone here who does this; these are just general trends I've noticed at random meals. But it does make me wonder:
When did feminist egalitarianism replace common decency as the most important sensibility to avoid offending at all costs? And what can I do to help switch it back again?