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cathryn amdahl

I truly loved Tankylosaur's comment:

"Why not try the old Scottish phrase, 'Dear Sir or Madman'?"

A bit of levity goes a long way in discussions of policing sexism in language. This is not to say that sexism in language is OK. Eliminating sexism in any way we can is good. But we can not just tell people not to be sexist (or racist). We have to show them and make sure our institutions are free of sexism. Language, alas, is not an institution.

breanna mcghee

I think "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear (Insert position of whom you sending a letter to)" can also be appropriate. They are both professional and don't assume the gender of the reader. This only shows whomever you are sending a letter to that you are professional and that you are considerate of their preferences.

Carmen A.

In my opinion, the person sending the letter should research who they are sending it to. If the gender is unknown, people should address it with a gender neutral noun. We learn in school to write letters and addressing them with Dear Mr.,Ms., or Mrs. depending on your audience. Therefore, "sir" should not be used in all cases.If you know the editor is male, then by all means, use "sir". The issue should not be controversial if writers consider their audience or gender of the person they are sending the letter to.

Stephanie W.

My view is that it's easier to just use a gender neutral form of address, such as "To whom it may concern", in the first place, just to make things easier. There's much less of a risk of offending someone, and you don't need to research who you're sending it to. It's still respectful, but its much simpler.

Arielly Borges

In my opinion, we can use Sir/Madam when addressing someone in a letter. There is nothing wrong with it. If you do not know their gender, it is some kind of respect. We can also use, "To whom it may concern", which is probably the best option. It is easy to respect people and it is easy to adopt gender neutral expressions and we should use them now, because we do not know who we can offend.

Fartun Hussein

I believe that its okay to use a gender when referring to someone while writing. In all honestly I don't think it matters whether its used while writing to a group of people whereas when your writing to a specific person. Using a gender can be a way of formality or understanding for some writers and I completely understand where the confusion is coming from. Although, there are also many other ways to begin writing to someone so using a gender isn't really mandatory or needed if it's such a big deal.You can also use gender neutral phrases so no one gets offended or no misunderstandings don't occur.


After reading this article, I agree that using a gender identity, like "sir," to address someone is a traditional term that should not be banned because some people get offended. The term "sir" makes it clear to the reader that the writer is showing respect towards them. If writers end up not addressing the gender of a person then the reader may get confused and/or lose interest in the work of art. However, when the writer is writing to someone that they do not know the gender to, it would be in their best interest to use, "To whom it may concern," because you do not want to address a female as a male, or vise versa.


“While I am by no means a feminist, I can’t believe it is necessary to maintain such a practice when other papers have eradicated this sexist attitude.” OK....... There are masculine and feminine words, and I fully support the ability for one to choose what or whom they identify as. However, there shouldn’t be eradication of a word that has a feminine equal. What happened to madame? I feel that this article is just attacking what they feel and completely overlooking the reverse. There are also other purposeful and useful ways of addressing someone without assuming gender: “To Whom it May Concern” “Superior” “Professor” “Teacher” “Employer” (etc.).

Jesse Greer

I do not agree, I could say the title is merely respected though I feel that is a given. You could say "to whom it may concern" that seems to remove the care and concern factor. Now if you are fully aware to whom you are addressing using a separate form seems acceptable; although I can see where the issue arises. Avoidance of offense based on ignorance regarding gender seems lazy and almost unprofessional. I feel gender should not play a role in a written ledger its purpose is to inform or share information. Catering to pronouns is not a well-driven agenda. Respect does not equal to avoidance of improper gender pronouns or whether a material containing information leans more to the masculine side versus femininity.

Tiba Kadhim

While I would love to be referred to as female and use word toward me as a female. However, a lot would not like to be referred to as a feminist or a masculine. In the case of writing a response to someone, it is respectfully to show respect and use words such as sir, madam, etc.. However, a lot would not prefer these terms. A lot, dislike these terms as masculine and feminist. One may not consider themself as either. Therefore, one should use other terms to show respect. Also, using gender identities make it more clear to the reader. Overall, I do believe that using gender identity a respectful way to use in a writing. However, if you are not sure of the person's identity you should use other identities to show respect to the person.

Morris Dweh

I am a male and like people o referred to me as a male so sir going to to be fined, but just in case you are addressing a letter to an unknown person I think it best to say Dear Sir\ Madam is the appropriate and most respectful way to address an unknown person, but I prefer to just say " To whom a may concern" is another easy way to avoid gender issues. I think we as a society need to use appropriate terms to show respect to others.

David Orosco

I do think some people tend over think simple acts of respect. I do not see the harm in addressing the author of a column with “Sir” in a letter. After all The Henley Standards editor is in fact a gentleman. As you can see the resident that has an objection is in fact a female. As a matter of respect I would reply “Madame” in a response if I were writing her back or may use Ms. as I do not know if she is married. These forms of address have been used as a sign of respect for decades.

If I were receiving/or sending letters and did not know the gender of the person receiving then the appropriate response in my opinion would be “To Whom It May Concern”. It was how I was taught to address those whom I did not know. It is formal and shows respect. I definitely would use “Sir” or “Madame” if i new the persons biological make-up. I don’t believe in addressing by first names if the person as not been formally introduced prior. Really if we filter out greetings in everything we might as well just text every communication and forgo all forms of formality and respect.

David Marlin

I see people over step when it comes to simple respect about using the right pronouns for people. When writing a letter you need to make sure you know who you're writing to such as a sir or ma'am. The nature of using these pronouns are seen as a respect thing over the years to speak to someone you do not know. If you are unsure of someone's gender how ever you would write the address to be respectful not to assume such as write "To the author of __". You would do this out of respect. If you know the persons last name you should address them by such last name as a sign of respect and to avoid assuming gender or anything of the such. You could do this by saying Dear "last name" then write the letter.

hanna montgomery

Using the right pronouns when it comes to talking to people is very important. it shows them respect. In my opinion I think that people should start off as "to whom it may concern" or "dear (their name)" if they don't know if a person is a male or female. Also these greetings are informal and shouldn't offend any one in any way. If you know if their a man or female you can say ms. mrs. if they prefer to be called that.


In my opinion I think it would have been better to use "To whom this may concern" because it would have been more respectful in a way instead of saying "Dear Sir or Madam". I feel its important to consider the next person feelings just because you wouldn't know how it would make them feel by using the wrong pronouns.

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