4 thoughts on “Women & Language

  1. Interesting that you posted this today. Last night I attended a meeting and a young woman introduced herself by ‘name’ and then said
    “they, them” I understood these to be pronouns for how she identified her gender. I later referred to ‘they’ as she and she quickly corrected me. This is a totally new language for me introduced by a ‘young person’ I realize this is beyond what the article was touching on but it spoke to me and has been on my mind since I woke up this morning. I identified as a ‘she’ not a ‘they’. Will have to let all this settle in,difficult sometimes being old in a new world.

    1. And think how much harder it must be for older men, with no mothers to teach them, who would tend to respond that they were being foolish and not take it as a signal that they, the old men, were the foolish ones, not adapting to new circumstances.

      Perhaps it explains a lot of our current moment, where the Internet has accelerated cultural change to the point that people aren’t able to adapt at anywhere near the same rate.

      1. OK ….I was just reading a humorous? How to start a fight over thanksgiving piece and one of the suggestions was
        Greet your uncle with your preferred pronouns.
        How long has this been a ‘thing’ ?
        I am wondering how I can bring this in to my next introduction but I am not sure what my preferred pronouns are.
        Default she/her but if I really think about it what about the male side of me or at least the side I feel is more male than female……but that is all perception.
        Maybe they/them is really more accurate. Certainly got me thinking about the difference
        Between gender and genitals
        …. and with that I think I will default to my inner Scarlett O’Hara and think about it all ‘tomorrow’

      2. Facebook changed their gender options from a binary male/female to multiple options back in February 2014.[1] And, there was a Time magazine article on Cisgender later that year.[2] So, it’s been at least 5 years since cisgender and a continuum of gender has been in the mainstream consciousness. In communities where non-binary is discussed, I think Kate Bornstein’s “Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us” is probably a good point of reference, a good twenty years before it entered the mainstream.[3,4]

        Time actually has a useful point here: “No one should have to identify themselves as cisgender all the time, just as ‘people don’t go around all the time thinking of themselves as a straight woman or a heterosexual man,’ she says. ‘But it becomes useful when you’re talking about the ways in which people are treated differently in society.'”

        A non-binary person in a group session of some sort might make the pronouns an issue to get the group thinking more critically about gender. But, on the other end of the scale, you don’t want to turn it into the frame in which everything is interpreted, such as sometimes happens with vegans, for instance.

        It’s good to think about how gender is socially constructed. But, if that’s the only conversation you are going to have, it’s almost as bad as never thinking about it at all because you are cisgender and your gender identity is never a problem, at least to you (more frequently of white, heterosexual men).

        [1] https://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/13/tech/social-media/facebook-gender-custom/index.html
        [2] https://time.com/3636430/cisgender-definition/
        [3] https://nonbinary.wiki/wiki/Kate_Bornstein
        [4] https://nonbinary.wiki/wiki/History_of_nonbinary_gender#Twentieth_century

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