No Ladies, No Gentlemen: On Gendering a Room Full of People∞
Addressing a group of students (or colleagues) as “ladies and gentlemen” would subtly imply that their gender was their defining feature: that before all else, I regarded them as gendered. Whether or not my language was suitably inclusive, I was rather missing the point. I wouldn’t address a lecture hall as “Hullo, English Studies students, and those of you taking Joint Honours degrees!” I wouldn’t begin a seminar with “I’m delighted to see you, British and EU citizens, and also our International students from other regions.” I certainly wouldn’t usually begin a speech “Dear gay and lesbian students, heterosexual students, bisexual students and asexual students”. In each case it would sound as if I was making a particular point. And my audience would be entirely justified in raising an eyebrow to question exactly why I was implying that those distinctions mattered about them.