reply to post by Aeons
You make a very sound argument, but my concern here is the motivation and the goal behind the desire to use gender-neutral terminology.
I, too, am fascinated by how different languages incorporate the idea of gender. For instance, how some languages infer the gender of the subject (or
even the "gender" of an object or concept) by simply changing the suffix (hijo
, etc.) I won't claim that my grammar is
perfect but my love for it is. I've actually chewed over this idea in my head before, so it was fascinating to see it so simply and eloquently put.
Language evolves, and much more quickly than most people realize. For instance, many people assume that Shakespearean English is somehow 'medieval'.
(It was a common misconception in my own high school, and as cringe-worthy as some of you find that, trust me, that's nothing. You have no idea how
deep that rabbit hole of ahhhduurrrr
Just look at this side-by-side comparison of medieval English (only around 6 centuries ago) and our own brand of English:
Wildu machen gehalbirte ayer, so sewd die ayer hert, vind schel sy, vnd sneid sy von ein ander, vnd nim den totern heraus, vnd hack In, vnd petersily
dar vnder, vnd wurez ez, vnd salcz, vnd mach ez ab mit eim ander ay, vnd full es In daz weis, vnd pack sy dann In ein smalcz... oder gib sy pachnew
aus strawben taig.
Even Hooked on Phonics couldn't prepare someone for this. Reading it alone I felt a vague air of menace. " vnd hack In" to whom there, good sir?
was that bit about my "petersily dar vnder"?
But my own unforgivable bastardization of the Mother Language was to blame:
If you wish to make half eggs, hard-boil them, peel them, and cut them in two. Remove the yolk, and chop it and add parsley, spices, salt, and one
uncooked egg. Fill this mixture into the egg halves, and fry them in lard*... or serve them fried in batter.
- Birkhan, Helmut. "Some Remarks on Medieval Cooking: The Ambras Recipe-Collection of Cod. Vind. 5486." Food in the Middle Ages. A Book of Essays.
New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1995.
* fun baseless conspiracy idea: Is Paula Deen immortal like Keanu Reeves?
Our language evolves to broaden communication. It influences and is influenced by our spoken language. It's still a very fractured language today. I
always hope that they warn British exchange students in some little pamphlet that they must never ask for a rubber when they need an eraser.
But my nerdy passion runs cold when people purposefully manipulate, fabricate, or attempt to hide the history/existence of words.
No. I will not call myself a "womyn" to symbolically overthrow my oppressive patriarchal overlords. I do not agree in whitewashing literature from
the past under the guise of shielding children. They're not stupid, they know racism exists. Literature is a beautiful opportunity to empathize with
someone of a different race and to see how vulgar and harmful racism is. Atticus. Finch. That is all.
I actually agree that our language would only benefit from a gender neutral pronoun. I do not
agree in the concept of forcibly using it to the
exclusion of he and she. Think of the psychological implications of that. Children are already discouraged from even pointing out that another child
is a different color or race. They pick up on all that tension and pussyfooting. Many of them are simply curious. Telling a group of 6-year-olds about
having more melanin making your skin darker, like curly hair or blue eyes, was hilarious. They all seemed relieved.
They're also heavily scolded for even bringing up weight, even in a non-malicious way. When my cousin's 5-year-old brother loudly asked her "does
that lady smell bad because she's fat?", you can bet her answer wasn't calm and explanatory in nature. She didn't react much better at his
questions on males and chapstick. "Is that man gay because he's wearing lipstick?"
What affects a child's view more? Dad paying lip service to women's rights or Dad treating Mom like a capable person and letting her drive the car
once in a while?
Necessity is the mother of invention. These kinds of things should become necessary due to a shift in our attitudes and beliefs. Beating it into our
skulls will not inspire us to it. And neither will forcing us to endure tedious sports films about ~*Teens Uniting Against Racism*~ when you know full
well that come lunch time, in overwhelming numbers these kids will segregate themselves.
We need to be having some REAL talk about issues like racism and sexual identity, not artificially scrubbing it out of existence. People will always
notice differences between themselves and others. We are individuals, it's what we do. Even if you turned the whole world blind we'd still find a
way to have an Us and a Them. The point is finding a way to show people the reality that Us and Them are both, for the most part, decent people trying
to get by.