Moments of Permanence - on gender and words

About on gender and words

Previous Entry on gender and words Jun. 4th, 2017 @ 06:20 pm Next Entry
1) We need a better word than "cisgendered", it's awkward and cumbersome and "cis" sounds weird on its own

2) Pronouns are stupid and possibly unfixable

They're just so fundamental to language, it's kinda hard to introduce new ones that don't sound unnaturalbadwrong.

And I've been trying, in my head, to come up with constructions for basically any kind of setup where one can use "it" to refer to a person and not have it sound really offensively awful, to try and see if I can see a route to using our existing ungendered pronoun for unspecified/non-binary people, and so far, I have yet to succeed within the confines of my own head.

If I can't get there in my own mind, when I know my intentions, and stuff? It's not going to work for the real world.

Imagine a world where nobody assumes they know the gender identity of strangers. Reconsider what it really means to assume you know someone's gender identity, especially if you're assuming that's the same as the physical configuration of their bodies. You're implicitly declaring your convictions about their genitals the moment you say it.

Meanwhile there are so few situations where that's actually information you need.

So imagine a world where everyone dresses however they're physically or psychologically comfortable, and we all agree that assumptions about gender are super-rude.

I can imagine that. I quite like the idea.

And yet: "I was talking to one of my coworkers, and it told me that blah blah" UGH NO
Leave a comment
[User Picture Icon]
From:[personal profile] copracat
Date: June 4th, 2017 02:58 pm (UTC)
(Link)
How do you feel about 'they told me'? Or are you not for singular they?
[User Picture Icon]
From:[personal profile] sami
Date: June 4th, 2017 03:28 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I used to hate it with a passion beyond words. Now I'm more-or-less at "grudging acceptance", but it's ambiguous and consequently bothersome to me.

I'm forever in love with language and I hate things that diminish nuance and accuracy.

We've already lost so much as standards have declined. If someone says, for example, "It's kind of weird that Sami is the one that's so obsessive about this," that's going to bother me, because it should be the one who; "that" is for animals and inanimate objects. Once upon a time you could read someone for filth with just word choice.

So it sort of fits that I can't really like something which introduces singular/plural ambiguity.

I mean, fundamentally, the thing about me is that I have the soul of an arch-conservative, I really do. I want things to stay the same, I want STANDARDS to be UPHELD.

I live my life as a lefty progressive because I hate injustice and unfairness and all of that, and I seethe with resentment at reactionaries because goddammit stop being awful and fix all of this and then we can stop having to change things.

Accordingly, I do get kind of hung up on some of these things. If nothing else, language issues are where, allowing for having studied too much linguistics to be purely prescriptivist, my inner arch-conservative can just glare at the world and hiss like an angry cat about standards and how it's just better the slightly old-fashioned way.
[User Picture Icon]
From:[personal profile] xtina
Date: June 4th, 2017 05:20 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Imma be that monster and say *reintroduces singular/plural ambiguity.
[User Picture Icon]
From:[personal profile] sami
Date: June 5th, 2017 12:30 am (UTC)
(Link)
Right, but there's a reason that happened.

The natural evolution of languages is that ambiguity goes away, and overlapping meaning differentiates.

This is unnatural.
[User Picture Icon]
From:[personal profile] xtina
Date: June 5th, 2017 12:35 am (UTC)
(Link)
I use they/them pronouns. I'm pleased I get to contribute to un-nature, on top of everything else I do.
[User Picture Icon]
From:[personal profile] sami
Date: June 5th, 2017 12:53 am (UTC)
(Link)
I'd like to say I'm against unnatural things, but realistically, if not for the intervention of unnatural medical procedures I wouldn't have lived past five even if I had been born given my mother would have died in childbirth, etc.

So I am perhaps hypocritically against unnatural things but: see "soul of an arch-conservative", hypocrisy and conservatism are natural allies.

Especially since I'm right here arguing about how they/them as third person singular is terrible but I also do, in fact, use them, because, as I was discussing, it just isn't possible to make "it" as a pronoun for a human seem anything but awful.
[User Picture Icon]
From:[personal profile] sami
Date: June 5th, 2017 01:00 am (UTC)
(Link)
Unless you mean you use them for yourself. Which you might, I didn't think you did but I missed an awfully long time of reading DW in any fashion I would remember later due to extended high fever, but I'll try to remember hereafter if so.

I use she/her pronouns. I can't see myself stopping - possibly because there's still a certain degree to which I like being identified as female, since until puberty gave me curves I had to tell everyone I ever met that no I'm a GIRL and, huh, I only just remembered that and maybe that's why I'm so resistant to the idea that I'm anything but DEFINITELY A GIRL OKAY - all those years spent being consistently misgendered.

:revelation:
[User Picture Icon]
From:[personal profile] xtina
Date: June 7th, 2017 01:59 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I do use they/them for myself. There's no doom here; I keep meaning to reply but the world has sort of exploded at home. Didn't want you thinking I was upset or similar.
[User Picture Icon]
From:[personal profile] sami
Date: June 7th, 2017 02:31 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

I will also endeavour to remember you are a they/them person hereafter. I mean, it's not like I have reason to refer to you in the third person very often, but if nothing else, the principle is important.

It comes back to what's always my bottom line on all things gender, which is: it doesn't hurt me, or anyone else, and it costs me nothing, so misgendering people is just really unforgivably rude.

("Just take people's word for it" is also a really helpful rule for simplifying Gender Issues Stuff if you are someone who, fundamentally, does not actually understand this at all, because, seriously, I was assigned female at birth, I was a little girl, who became a woman, and I can't comprehend how I could be anything else, and because this shit reconciles REALLY EASILY when you're cis, I do not really understand on what basis you could assign a gender other than apparent physical configuration. Which, you see, therefore indicates, strongly and irrefutably, that I am ignorant and dumb as a bag of rocks on this subject and should simply accept the teachings of the informed.)
(Leave a comment)
Top of Page Powered by Dreamwidth Studios