Tuesday, June 21, 2022


When speaking to someone, the pronoun used to refer to that person is the genderless "you".  If you're talking about a third person you would use "he" or "she", but since that person isn't in the conversation, they don't get to dictate how you refer to him or her.  There is so much wrong with the modern pronoun business, and it all comes back to Orwell's lessons about controlling the language.  People who try to dictate how you speak about them when they're not even there are narcissists and worse.  If anyone were to ask me what my pronouns are, I'd first looked shocked and disgusted and then probably reply with something like, "the obvious ones, duh."

The author of this column feels a little differently:

While being subjected to constant rituals of pronoun exchanges may seem silly or annoying at best and exhausting at worst, in reality participating in this ostensibly benign practice helps to normalize a regressive ideology that is inflicting enormous harm on society. To understand why, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with its core tenets...

I love this part: 

The clear message of gender ideology is that, if you’re a female who doesn’t “identify with” the social roles and stereotypes of femininity, then you’re not a woman; if you’re a male who similarly rejects the social roles and stereotypes of masculinity, then you’re not a man. Instead, you’re considered either transgender or nonbinary, and Planned Parenthood assures you that “there are medical treatments you can use to help your body better reflect who you are.” According to this line of thinking, certain personalities, behaviors and preferences are incompatible with certain types of anatomy.

So when someone asks for your pronouns, and you respond with “she/her,” even though you may be communicating the simple fact that you’re female, a gender ideologue would interpret this as an admission that you embrace femininity and the social roles and expectations associated with being female. While women’s-rights movements fought for decades to decouple womanhood from rigid stereotypes and social roles, modern gender ideology has melded them back together.

The author's prescription:

We simply can’t ignore fundamental realities of our biology and expect positive outcomes for society. Pronoun rituals are extremely effective at normalizing and institutionalizing the abolition of biological sex in favor of gender identity. These rituals take advantage of people’s confusion and compassion to achieve compliance. But the time for politeness has long passed. The only proper response to the question “What are your pronouns?” is to reject the premise and refuse to answer.

Perhaps, instead of what I wrote above, I should answer the odd query with an awkward silence followed by, "Anyway...".

Who would have thought that in 2022 we'd be fighting each other over how to refer to men and women. Sheesh.


Pseudotsuga said...

My pronouns are I/Me/Mine...
Or, wit/unc/uncer (because the Anglo Saxon dual pronouns are cool)

Randomizer said...

"we'd be fighting each other over how to refer to men and women. "

That isn't the conflict, it is whether a particular person at this instant, is a man or woman. The pronoun conflict seems like the last battle. Pronouns are everywhere, so it's difficult to stay out of this skirmish in the culture war.

I'm thinking the intent is not to make you believe that a man is a woman just by wishing it to be so, but that the intent is to make you say something that is so obviously unbelievable.

If you can be persuaded to lie routinely, how can you maintain any integrity?

Darren said...

Theodore Dalrymple has made the same point:

“Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”


ObieJuan said...

Agree with Mr. Dalrymple.

My pronouns are repent/sinner.

Anonymous said...

Your friend, Alice Smith, just got married to Bob Robertson. You think he’s kind of a jerk and she could do way better; but whatever, it’s her life, and she can do what she wants with it.

While standing in a group of people with Alice, you say to someone else “You like Metallica? Miss Smith does too, you should go to a concert together on their next tour!”

Alice chimes in. “Actually, it’s Mrs Robertson now”.

Do you:

A) say “oh, sorry, Mrs Robertson” and move on, trying to remember to use the term she prefers; or

B) insist on calling her “Miss Smith” to make sure she knows you don’t approve of her marriage and you won’t be bullied into accepting it?

I think it’s safe to say most people would go with A, because choosing B just makes you look like a jerk over something petty. Just call her what she wants to be called and move on.

Even if you don’t approve of her name change, there’s still the principle of least harm to consider. What’s worse: you having to remember a new name when referring to someone, or hurting Alice by demonstrating your disapproval of something important to her, repeatedly and in public?

Language is arbitrary. There’s no fundamental correspondence between the sounds that come out of our mouths and what’s in our pants. Some languages don’t even have grammatical gender. Some have 10 genders to distinguish between things that are animate or inanimate or if something is a plant vs a fruit. This seems like a pretty pointless hill to die on.

Unless, of course, your intent is just to be a jerk to someone because you don’t approve of the way they live their life.

Darren said...

Words have meaning.

Anonymous said...

But who decides what words mean? It’s not the dictionary, the Academie Francaise or your 4th grade grammar teacher. Words are tools for communication, an imperfect medium of exchange for the ideas in our heads. Languages evolve to suit the needs of their speakers, speakers are not beholden to an immutable One True Version of their language. If we were, we’d all still be speaking like Chaucer.

You’re right, though. Words do have meaning, one intended by the speaker and another interpreted by the listener. When you deliberately misgender someone, they’re hearing that you don’t respect them, you don’t respect their identity, and you value your own feelings over theirs.

So maybe we can stop it with the disingenuous pearl-clutching about how “words have meaning”, and we can address what’s actually bugging you: you think trans people are weird and you wish they would go away so you don’t have to think about them anymore.

Darren said...

Yes, words change meaning, but not because some self-obsessed people say so.

Again, when I speak to a person, the only pronouns i would use are I (for me) or you. No demonstration of disrespect. If you think you're another type of person, or animal, or fence for that matter, you do you--what's disrespectful is to attempt to compel me to participate in and validate your beliefs.

There are FOUR lights.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever talked to two people at once and referred to one of them in third person while talking to the other? There’s no need to be deliberately obtuse.

Trust me, trans people are *keenly* aware of the bodies they have. No one is pretending there’s no physical differences at all between a trans man/woman and a cis man/woman - otherwise there wouldn’t be any reason to have the terms trans and cis. “Man” and “woman” are terms which have been used to describe two things: people with certain genitals, as well as the social roles those people are assumed by default to fulfill based on them.

All trans people are saying is that the mapping between genitals and social roles is arbitrary, and not something people should be bound by. Humanity could just as easily have decided to divide everyone up by their hair color and insisted that anyone with brown hair has to use certain pronouns and wear certain clothes and act a certain way. What if society said only people with blonde hair are allowed to join the army or watch football or wear a suit? And god help you if you’re bald, that’s truly an abomination. How am I supposed to know how to treat you if I don’t know what color your hair is? Biology is biology! There are 4 lights!!!

Who is really compelling who, here? When you misgender someone, you’re saying that you don’t recognize that person’s right to choose their own social role. You’re saying that what really matters is what YOU think they should act like, or dress like, or what words they should be called because that’s what YOU want them to do. You are the one enforcing your rigid beliefs on what people with certain body parts are allowed to do or be. Why not just let people be who they want to be? What ever happened to “Don’t Tread On Me”?

Darren said...

You have a lot of Blah Blah Blah here but most of your points are incorrect. I'll focus only on your last paragraph, which is among the silliest.

"Who is really compelling who, here? When you misgender someone, you’re saying that you don’t recognize that person’s right to choose their own social role. You’re saying that what really matters is what YOU think they should act like, or dress like, or what words they should be called because that’s what YOU want them to do."

I'm compelling no one. They can think they're whatever they want to think they are. They are not entitled to have me participate in their beliefs. They are not entitled to have me validate those beliefs.

There are FOUR lights.

Anonymous said...

I can tell you’re not actually interested in participating in good faith, given your last response boiled down to “nuh uh!” and repeating your original assertion without actually addressing any of the points I raised.

I knew when I took the bait and replied it was a futile effort, but I guess I was hoping there was a bit of empathy somewhere deep down inside you.

This isn’t just a culture war battleground of the week, like Starbucks Christmas cups or renaming high schools or whatever. I know for you this is just another skirmish where you can “own the libs”, get some high fives from your conservative buddies and move on. But trans people don’t have that luxury. This is their daily lives. This is you actively making the lives of a marginalized group of people harder, repeatedly reminding them that you find them repulsive and denying the validity of their existence. The fact that you aren’t willing to make the tiniest accommodation for them, and in fact go out of your way to demonstrate that, shows exactly how much respect you have for them.

And if you think this doesn’t apply to you because you don’t know any trans people, you absolutely do. I’m a former student of yours who is trans, and I’m willing to bet there’s plenty more like me.

Trans people exist, and always have. Just because the culture you were raised in didn’t acknowledge that fact doesn’t make it not true. It may seem like a new thing to you, some fad cooked up by those blue-haired college socialists, but it’s not. The reason you see more people coming out is because it wasn’t safe to do so in the past, but now it is in many places. It’s the same reason there’s a whole lot more left handed people since they stopped forcing lefties to use their right hands from birth. It’s not because being left handed is unnatural, but it’s because lefties are finally being given the chance to be themselves.

You can bury your head in the sand, say they’re just fooling themselves, play the victim and paint yourself as a brave last scion of truth in a world gone mad, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re just being mean to people you don’t like because you don’t like them. The rest of it is just mental gymnastics to justify your behavior and avoid acknowledging the harm you have caused.

Darren said...

I acknowledge that this is personal for you, but you ascribe motives to me that don't exist. I have addressed your points, you merely keep repeating them more insistently.

I have had one trans student (that I know of) in class, and I made an effort to use that student's preferred name. I endeavored not to use 3rd person pronouns to refer to that student in that student's presence (see how I did that there?), and when I slipped, I apologized. It's not that I lack empathy. You show immaturity by mistaking disagreeing with you as a lack of empathy.

I have participated in this conversation in good faith, but it seems best that we both disengage now.

Anonymous said...

I’m glad you were able to be kind to your student. I hope one day you do it out of respect and recognition of the diversity of human experiences, and not because you feel “compelled” to by “self-obsessed” people who think they’re an “animal, or [a] fence for that matter”.

And with that: Number One, disengage!

(See what I did that there?)

Darren said...

I'm kind no matter whether I agree with my students or not. That even goes for the socialists.