Gender relations 101


Just got an email from my male professor saying that the test has been rescheduled to a later date. He signed off by saying “Look forward to seeing your handsome faces on Thursday.”

Uh, professor did you forget the majority of your students are female in that class? Actually the percentage of females on campus are 60%. But according to this professor all his female students grew penises overnight. #MFIF

MM, Pennsylvania, US


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27 Responses to “Gender relations 101”

  1. woahcake Says:

    Sometimes I think the posts on this site are way too quick to cry foul.

    First off, “handsome” is a word that can apply to both men and women, children, animals and inanimate objects. Here’s a link to Seven definitions and not a single one mentions “men only.”

    It’s not your professor’s fault he knows the full definition and you don’t. Please calm down next time, you make the rest of us girls look bad.

  2. soapyburns Says:

    I think in this case, it might have just been a language misunderstanding considering that the dictionary definition of handsome is:
    “Pleasing and dignified in form or appearance”

  3. kornberg Says:

    women can be handsome too. it’s somewhat obsolete but not unimaginably so, especially for a college professor. you’re grasping for straws that are not there.

  4. graftonk Says:

  5. May Says:

    “Handsome” is a gender-neutral term.

  6. mryan91 Says:

    It is a gender-neutral term, but in America it is rarely used towards women. I can see where the OP is coming from, but still, I doubt it was meant to offend.

  7. dazzle023 Says:

    yep, definitely a MFIM FAIL

  8. atozinco Says:

    “Handsome” can be used as a sort-of gender-incusive term (although, until “beautiful” can be used the same way I’d put “handsome” in the same basket as the words “man/mankind”).

    “Handsome” is an uncommon word to use for a mixed-gender group but it is sometimes used. Sometimes a woman or a girl will even be called “handsome” instead of “beautiful” (and occasionally a boy or a man will be called “beautiful”) – as a genuine compliment.

    This reminds me of the spoken poem by Andrea Gibson “Say Yes” which has the lines, “This is… for the time you taught a 14 year old girl she was powerful; this is for the time you taught a 14 year old boy he was beautiful.”

  9. amerilia Says:

    I am probably going to get eaten alive for this comment, but I don’t think he did anything wrong, especially since there are males in the class (and assuming the email went out to everyone). Personally, I think this is a bit of over-analysis on the writer’s part where she is ascribing certain adjectives as sex-seperate terms. I personally thought that this blog was created to a. show sex discrimination and b. show that females are as good as males any day, but honestly, I think this is nit-picky.

  10. jesurgislac Says:

    I’d say it depends on the context (and the OP knows the context better than us). “Handsome” can be gender-neutral: did the professor intend it that way?

    Like when someone addresses a mixed group of men and women as “hey guys” are they ignoring the women, or would they address a group of women, too, as “hey guys” because in their minds “guys” is gender-neutral?

    Would suggest the professor gets greeted with “lovely to see your beautiful face” in a chorus from all the handsome women in his class.

    • trixtah Says:

      It’s possible, but seems unlikely – I’ve never heard it use to reference mixed groups (unlike “guys”).

      I like the suggestion, though.

      And perhaps the prof could use locutions like “cute” or “happy” faces to stop potential confusion!

      • fiona888 Says:

        That’s what I was thinking – it seems a bit strange for him to refer to his students, male or female, in terms of looks anyway.

        If he really felt a need to say any such thing at all, I would have thought that perhaps “eager faces” would have been more appropriate (and amusingly sarcastic!).

  11. skipla Says:

    I have so often been in a situation where I’m the only woman in a male group. So often I have been included as “one of the guys” the group beeing addressed in a mela generic way. Sometimes I make a joke of it many times I don’t even notice it myself.
    In this instance the majority in the class is female not male and the writer seems to feel that the teacher is ignoring that. I get the feeling that something else has been going on that makes her beleive this because it is rather difficult to see “handsome” as being speciffically male oriented.

  12. keysburg Says:

    One of my graduate professor’s favorite phrases was “You are a gentleman and a scholar!” used generally only when somebody did something really well or went way out of his way to do something.

    The one time I merited use of the phrase he changed it to “You’re a scholar and an elk biologist!” in reference to the two weeks we spent in California observing elk. It made me laugh.

  13. Brie B. Says:

    I think “handsome” when applied to women is a bit of an old-fashioned term, so perhaps this is a simple case of the generation gap? I’m willing to give the OP the benefit of the doubt, since she knows the guy and I don’t, but it does seem as though she was simply unaware of that usage of the word.

  14. kktwain Says:

    I think handsome is actually pretty gender-neutral. I’d have no problem being called handsome myself (I am a girl.)

  15. barefootforward Says:

    Actually, handsome used to be used all the time to describe women as well as men. Just read Laura Ingalls Wilder — she often uses it. Much of our society has gender-fied the word, but it’s really gender neutral.

  16. pavlovsothercat Says:

    I know it’s just a turn of phrase but I feel slightly creeped out by someone in a teaching role making references to the attractiveness of their students. Unprofessional IMO.

    • amerilia Says:

      Ok, I definitely agree with that. Compliments on attractiveness in general is kinda a no-no if you’re a teacher, and no matter what sort of word he used, it was inappropriate under that context.

    • kktwain Says:

      Really? I thought it was okay… handsome also doesn’t come across as very expressive… no different from saying eager faces, in my opinion.

      • pavlovsothercat Says:

        I work with students who are over the age of consent in the country where I am, and I would find any comment about attractiveness unprofessional. How is attractive remotely the same thing as eager to learn?

  17. natalief Says:

    If he was, for example, a professor for an English Literature class, then he would know that “handsome” is a unisex term used for both women and men. Maybe he is merely better read than the original poster an so has read more Jane Austen, for example, and/or has watched more costume drama films such as “Pride and Prejudice”?

    • lanaer Says:

      Or even if he’s read Sherlock Holmes… I think Doyle uses “handsome” in reference to women far more frequently than he does for men.

  18. skipla Says:

    I truly hope we will never go so far in righteousness that we deny ourselves the joy of admiring beauty.

  19. retikhah Says:

    Also, no one has suggested it yet, but could the professor have been trying to be anti-sexist and failed ( you know, instead of saying “all your pretty faces” or something like that?)Granted, it’s still a big fail, but perhaps his intentions weren’t as bad as they appear?

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