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Shall we just all move to a new pronoun?

(29 Posts)
Onlynever Sat 17-Feb-18 17:39:33

So it seems that it is now a really big deal to some people that we use the pronoun that they like, not the pronoun we would expect to use for them. Eg. this guidance from a university, to its staff, about the most commonly preferred alternative pronouns:

"They/them/theirs (Shea ate their food because they were hungry.) This is a pretty common gender-neutral pronoun and it can be used in the singular. In fact, “they” was voted as the Word of the Year in 2015.
Ze/hir/hir (Tyler ate hir food because ze was hungry.) Ze is pronounced like “zee” can also be spelled zie or xe, and replaces she/he/they. Hir is pronounced like “here” and replaces her/hers/him/his/they/theirs.
Just my name please! (Ash ate Ash’s food because Ash was hungry) Some people prefer not to use pronouns at all, using their name as a pronoun instead."

In some workplaces, you are now expected to ask everyone at a meeting what their preferred pronoun is. Think about all the time that wastes, just on the off-chance that someone wants to use their own special pronoun.

So how about abolishing the he/she pronouns, and moving everyone onto the same gender neutral pronoun?
This is what used to happen in China. Men and women were all referred to as "ta" (he/she), with "tamen" as the plural (they). Until the 1920s when, because of influence from the West, they decided they needed a separate pronoun for women. Everyone is still referred to as "ta" though, it's how it's written that's different. It keeps things nice and simple.

What pronoun shall we choose?

Writersblock2 Sat 17-Feb-18 17:40:45

If quite like to keep the one I’ve got, thanks. Language is important, as is differentiating my biological sex.

LangCleg Sat 17-Feb-18 17:43:50

Honestly? I couldn't give two tosses what pronoun anybody uses about me.

MrsDoylesPumpkinSpiceLatte Sat 17-Feb-18 18:05:04

My chosen pronoun is m'lady / her majesty thank you 👸

TallulahWaitingInTheRain Sat 17-Feb-18 18:07:28

I'd be quite in favour of one gender neutral set of pronouns. We're obsessed with perceived sex differences in this country and I don't think it helps that our language constrains us to make a distinction between male and female people every time we refer to one of them.

TerfsUp Sat 17-Feb-18 18:10:58

No. Existing pronouns are fine.

TallulahWaitingInTheRain Sat 17-Feb-18 18:12:09

How about sticking with she/her but extending it to men as well as women? Women are the majority of the population so we would just be taking the most commonly used form.

TerfsUp Sat 17-Feb-18 18:26:41

No. Men have their pronouns and women have theirs.

TallulahWaitingInTheRain Sat 17-Feb-18 18:29:32

Why, TerfsUp?

TheButterflyOfTheStorms Sat 17-Feb-18 18:30:35

The narcs wouldn't go for one pronoun. It's not specialty-special enough.

One would really help with babies though. I'm forever skirting descriptors with babies, "aw cute baby, how old?" Just in case the parent is a rabid gender-lover.

UpstartCrow Sat 17-Feb-18 18:32:17

No. Words have meaning. Abolishing meaningful words 'to simplify things' or 'to pacify people' is akin to Orwell's doublespeak.

The fundamental problem is the same old problem; men are dissatisfied, they feel the system works against them. It cant be them that needs to rethink, so everyone else has to shift over.

PositivelyPERF Sat 17-Feb-18 18:34:05

If I’m ever asked for my pronoun I shall insist on being referred to as ‘woman with a real vagina’.

TERFousBreakdown Sat 17-Feb-18 18:35:38

Terf/terfs/terfself, thankyoueversomuch!

Please note that your refusal to oblige my polite request constitutes LITERAL FUCKING VIOLENCE!!!

TallulahWaitingInTheRain Sat 17-Feb-18 18:46:24

I'm gender-critical. I would love to live in a world where we got rid of all gender distinctions. For me, that would include gendered pronouns, gendered clothes, gendered colours, gendered jobs, gendered housework.

Sex is naturally important when it comes to things like data collection, medical intervention, privacy and dignity, etc.

I just don't see why I have to reference my colleagues' sex every time I mention them. I don't reference their age, or any other biologically important things about them!

Onlynever Sat 17-Feb-18 18:55:08

I'm also gender critical. But since reading about the Chinese, I've always felt that it would be a good idea to have the same pronoun for men and women. Not that ancient China was exactly enlightened in its attitude towards women. I don't like the constant emphasis on sex - eg. always having to specify your title and "gender" on forms, even though there is no obvious relevance. It shouldn't matter what sex (or gender, if such a thing exists) you are, in most situations.
I agree that transgender people wouldn't want to have the same pronoun as everyone else, because some/many of them probably like to emphasise that they are different and special. But they wouldn't have a leg to stand on if they complained about everyone having the same pronoun.

Mouthandtrousersall Sat 17-Feb-18 18:56:48

I@ve spent 40 years being asked if i'm a miss or a mrs!!!! I have to say em ess to them. I've been mis trucking gendered for 40 years by people asking me if I'm a man's property or not . The fucking trans persons can just deal with it as far as I'm concerned.

TallulahWaitingInTheRain Sat 17-Feb-18 19:04:28

In our new degendered world, Mouth, everyone will be 'Ms', including the men.

Women might find themselves being shortlisted for more job interviews, who knows?

Nonibaloni Sat 17-Feb-18 19:12:44

I signed up to a “friends of the theatre” thing today (cause that’s how I roll) and the list of things I could use as title was long and comprehensive. I chose Father and Prof, because what bloody difference does it make to the theatre.

TerfsUp Sat 17-Feb-18 19:47:50

Why, TerfsUp?

Because there is not a compelling reason to change the existing language.

TallulahWaitingInTheRain Sat 17-Feb-18 20:07:36

There's a great deal of evidence that women are disadvantaged in all sorts of scenarios which don't involve face-to-face contact (job applications, getting books or academic papers published, setting up networks wrt to business startups, etc etc).

This is facilitated by the fact that we are so insistent on categorising everyone by gender from the first second of contact we have with them. I use 'gender' (not 'sex') on purpose here as this is where the disadvantage stems from.

If everyone was 'Ms' (or whatever) and we ditched all the other unnecessary markers of gender (pronouns et al.), this discrimination wouldn't be possible. The markers are there to make it possible. Is that not a reason for getting rid of them?

AssassinatedBeauty Sat 17-Feb-18 20:10:07

First names would often give the owner's sex away though.

TallulahWaitingInTheRain Sat 17-Feb-18 20:12:22

True, gendered first names would have to go too. Or people could use ambiguous nicknames.

WaverleyOwl Sat 17-Feb-18 20:20:54

It's worth noting that in some organisations (I work for the NHS) strip all identifying info from job applications so that there is no bias at the point if selecting applicants.

WaverleyOwl Sat 17-Feb-18 20:25:24

Also, I work in an NHS organisation that is scientifically focused, and we are significantly female. We dont do everything right, but this seems to be one feather in our cap.

WhereYouLeftIt Sat 17-Feb-18 20:57:06

"So it seems that it is now a really big deal to some people that we use the pronoun that they like, not the pronoun we would expect to use for them."

There are many languages which are less gendered than English. There are languages which are more gendered than English.

But the question should be - would it actually make any difference if everybody used they/their instead of her/hers/him/his? Or would those who are so fragile that not using their 'preferred' pronouns is triggering, would find something else to complain about? The tone of voice used? The five-year-old who got it right, and had to be taught that they were wrong? And then there's the narcissists who WANT you to get it wrong, so that they can make it all about me,me, me?

Sorry Onlynever, you may think you are proposing a solution, but it's a solution to a non-existent problem.

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