How to Address a Politically-Correct, Non-Sexist Business Letter
By Andrew Berman
Let us look at the standard opening phrase of a standard business letter:
Well, this is clearly sexist as it precludes the possibility that a
woman is reading the letter. We can try to fix this, however, by
This was suggested in a recent posting in a few of the gender-issue
related news groups. However, someone pointed out that by putting the
masculine title before the feminine one, unacceptable dominance was
demonstrated, making this non-PC. So, I tried to fix it:
Well, this is no good since we're showing dominance in the other
direction. Of course, since Men are Oppressors and Womyn are
Oppressees, that may not be so bad. But it's not *really* PC, is it?
Ok, let's try again:
Well, that solves the problem of who goes first. Of course, the Sir
is on top now, which is completely unacceptable. Missionary style
het-sexist imagery abounds. Very bad news, probably worse than the
original. Ok, what about:
Well, I was once told that men laying on their back during sex was
sexist as they were making women do all the work. Besides, you still
have one on top of the other showing dominance. We may not sure who's
doing what, but *somebody* is being oppressed here. Next:
Put the Sir inside the Madam, ok, neither is going first and neither
is above the other one. Ok? NO! This is terrible! The Sir has
inserted himself inside the Madam! Practically splitting her in two
with himself! How pornographic!! A man writing a letter addressed like
this to a woman is obviously making an (unwanted) sexual advance. If
he were at Antioch college, he'd be suspended for a year and have to
go through rehabilitation. Catherine MacKinnon would have a fit!
Now we put the Madam inside the Sir. Oh, now the Sir has enveloped
the Madam! Horrors, she has lost her identity, her sense of self!
This is imprisonment! Ugh, how could I have even thought of this
one?? I'm so ashamed!
Well, there's only one answer left:
To Whom it May Concern
There. Simple, no reference to sex or sexuality, no problems. Not
very friendly, but then again unwanted intimacy is a sin. And getting
rid of friendliness is a small price to pay to make sure that
absolutely no-one is ever, *ever* offended.