“Pardon me, ma’am, would you like to sit down?”

“Don’t call me ma’am, you woman-hater!”

Such is the logic of gender equity programs.

Gender equity programs, the new frontier of political correctness, are sweeping schools by storm. These programs promise to eliminate gender bias by making a few key vocabulary changes: “manholes” become “utility access covers,” while “weatherman” becomes “weather reporter.” You can’t even say “Mother Nature” anymore without being called a sexist pig.  If you don’t think these people are serious, I dare you to walk into a feminist convention and say, “Hey guys.” You’d be lucky to make it out alive.

The problem is that these wackos were smart enough to label a ridiculous concept with a warm and fuzzy name.  Who could possibly be against something like gender equity?  That would mean you are for gender inequity.  I would like to see a politician have gender inequity as part of his campaign platform.

But by implementing ridiculous programs under the guise of “equity,” these activists do a disservice to women.  Thanks to these people’s shady track record of falsely crying “fire!” real issues of inequity become easy to write off. Think about it: if I were to constantly argue that the use of the word “manhole” oppresses women, I doubt you would value my opinion when I talked about real life incidences of anti-woman discrimination.  You’d probably think, “Oh, there she goes again!”

The gender equity proponents always seem to be complaining about something or other. Women aren’t as interested in science and math as men are — must be discrimination! It couldn’t possibly be the result of naturally different tastes. For example, the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science Education has suggested that lab dissections in introductory biology classes are designed to discourage women from pursuing degrees in biology. Gotta love conspiracy theories.

It seems that practically everything oppresses women these days. Even something as simple as a first name can be considered sexist. Parents, Teachers, and Schools suggests that girls have self-esteem problems in part because, “Girls names are fussy and pretty and pert rather than serious.” By contrast boys’ names are short, hard-hitting and explosive. Anything from wedding clothing to proper etiquette can be construed as public enemy number one, while words like “manhole” are erased from our collective vocabulary. A note to anyone who is actually offended by the use of the word “manhole”: you are not being oppressed. You are just an idiot.

Little boys are taught that it is demeaning to give up a chair for a girl, or hold a car door open. Hogwash! This will only lead to a generation of boys unable to impress dates with their charming and gentlemanly behaviors. Why are we taking social interaction advice from a group of people who probably haven’t had a date in 10 years?

A booklet issued by the Michigan Department of Education now encourages teachers to have students make “jack- and jill-o’-lanterns” and “snow people.” I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. What girl is legitimately oppressed by not being associated with a hollowed out vegetable that a gang of drunken high school students is likely to smash in the middle of the night?

These policies aren’t restricted to elementary school holiday craft projects.  Now gender equity is invading institutions of higher education.  Trinity College in Connecticut has taken gender equity to a whole new level by mandating that “individual Greek organizations must be comprised of approximately equal numbers of men and women.”

That’s right, folks — sororities and fraternities must now be open to both men and women at Trinity. Boys can join sororities and girls can join fraternities. (Trinity’s deans really don’t seem to understand the ideas of sisterhood and brotherhood on which these organizations are founded.) I’ve personally never considered the all-male membership of a frat to be discrimination, and I bet you haven’t either. Guys join frats because they want to hang out with other guys and girls can equally join sororities where they can hang out with other girls. Changing the Greek system in the name of “equality” hurts men and women.

My final objection to gender equity is out of sheer laziness. Am I the only one who is annoyed to death by the grammatical consequences of these programs? Seriously, how annoying is it to have to write “he or she” and “his or her” all the time? Sure, the former word choices might have been a tad disrespectful to women, but it certainly saved a lot of time. It’s like we have just shifted to a different form of oppression, but since it ticks everyone off it is okay.

These examples are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg of ridiculous programs and annoying vocabulary changes that stay alive under the mask of noble-sounding “gender equity.” It brings to mind Chris Farley’s promise in Tommy Boy to take a crap in a box and mark it “guaranteed”: it doesn’t change the fact that the program is a load of poo.

Allison Kasic is a student at Bucknell University.