For all you white male professors out there who threw up a little in their mouth when they heard about that Wall Street Journal editorial targeting Dr. Jill Biden’s honorific, if you want to do more than change your FB profil or your Twitter name to fight this breed of misogyny, try this.
Next semester, introduce yourself to your class with your honorific. Tell them you expect them to use it when they address you. Tell them that this expectation expresses solidarity with all of your colleagues (across academic disciplines) who too often don’t get addressed with the honorific they worked hard to earn. They don’t because they are a woman or a person of color, and those groups that don’t align with America’s racial, gendered, and outdated stereotype for professors.
Tell them that by addressing you with your honorific, using it will feel more natural. Knowing you expect them to use it with all their other instructors will get them thinking about why they didn’t think about that before. They may overcome that unexamined habit, and start using honorifics more with others correctly.
Hopefully, they’ll also reflect on why you’re expecting this, and who you are standing up for. That will lead them to reflect on and see the growing diversity of the professorate and other professions in America. And that will become part of their expectations on the world around them.
And if that student is a women or a person of color, maybe they’ll start seeing themself standing at the front of a classroom teaching and changing the lives of their students. Or leading a research laboratory. Or saving lives leading a team of doctors. Or representing the U.S. as ambassador to the European Union.
Think about it. Try it. You’ll feel good doing it, and your students will respond well.