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I was a Peer Counselor at school, which meant that i had frequent contact with the Residential Life department (the 'hey-students-do-things-other-then-study, let's-meddle-with-that, too!' department). In general, they were always well-intentioned. We were trained to mediate disputes, recognise self-destructive behavior, we organized activities, and so on.. we were a pretty diverse group, and well-meaning ourselves.

At several of the meetings, they addressed right speech. Because words are not neutral, we were given guidelines on what we (as role models) were and were not supposed to say. Mainly, we were not supposed to call the dorms dorms, but residence halls (because you don't just sleep there), and we weren't supposed to call any of the people in the dorms boys, girls, or kids. They were men, women, or residents. A few of us rolled our eyes. I, for one (you may have noticed!) tend to call everyone "kids". Then Rosa stood up.

Rosa was raised in Amsterdam and New York City, and had lots of class in addition to an unusual fashion sense and a dry but earthy sense of humor. She was like a sophisticated wine in earth-colored leggings and high-heeled boots. At any rate, she said, I don't agree. I am offended at being called woman. I've worked all my life to be a lady or a dame. I would like that respected.

Well, she broke the tension in the room, and she won me right over to her fan club. I tended more toward dame, though, as in classy dame. But call her a woman, and she might growl at you.