November 2017
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I will be using genderfree language here.


notice:

I am training myself to use genderfree language, and specifically, gender-neutral pronouns. Disbelieving in gender is an important part of my worldview and I want it to be reflected in my language. I think that the purpose of gendered pronouns is to remind the hearer of someone's sex, which I believe to be something that should be considered unimportant in general conversation. I see it as a part of the structure that allows sexism to continue. (every now and then it makes things a little clearer when you are talking about a male and a female but I don't think that is enough of a reason and I tend to use names to specify anyway) I think that it is important to remove unnecessary distinctions related to sex, as a way of removing stereotypes. I also do my best to refrain from using such gendered terms as 'girly' 'manly' 'feminine' or 'masculine' except as relates to actual body parts, because I think that things which are referred to in such ways are stereotypes. For instance, I do not think it is 'girly' to shop, or 'manly' to move heavy objects. I would prefer if you used genderfree pronouns in reference to me but I will be fine if you don't -- I know it is hard to remember. So for future reference, here in my LJ:

zir = her, his
ze = he, she
zirself = herself, himself

This is not a request for you to do the same (though that would thrill me), so if you don't like the idea, simply ignore this post. If it is going to intensely bother you to read, feel free to unfriend. mourningdoveava is my buddy in this journey, and ze will hopefully remind me if I slip up. ;-)

ETA: This is really just for me -- not to ignore physical differences, but to remind myself of their unimportance. I'm becoming the change I wish to see in the world. I'm not attempting to change anyone else's mind.

ETA #2: I am fully and completely comfortable with my sex -- I'm a girl, and I like it. I am a 'she.' But I see no reason to have my sex referred to in casual conversation. For me, being a girl is about having female body parts and that is it. And I don't wish to have my body parts referred to whenever someone speaks of me.

These gender-neutral terms are not an 'other,' they are inclusive. They're not for people who are other than male or female, they are for all people -- male, female, intersexed, transsexual. It is not meant to ignore or take away a person's sex; it is meant to speak of the person within the body. So if I call you 'ze' I am referring to the person that you are, without happening to mention your sex.

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Comments
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flyingshaman ══╣╠══
This sounds more and more like angel speak, dear Bel.

As in, a very cool thing.. just perhaps difficult to remember.

I use gender-defined pronouns, but for me (I think, at least) it doesn't always mean that I'm ascribing a certain stereotype to a male-bodied or female-bodied person (wow, there I go!). People are people, who ever they are.

This could be an interesting experiment/journey.. and also acknowledges humankind (hummingkind? :)) rather than one or the other party.

*turkles*
belenen ══╣bel hearts lilylight╠══
oh, no, I didn't mean to imply that those who use them are ascribing stereotypes. Just that they CAN be used for that purpose. Like, if everyone carried a knife some would never consider using it on someone else but they are providing an easy source of weapon for someone who WOULD.

and also acknowledges humankind (hummingkind? :)) rather than one or the other party.

Yes! Exactly! The point is, helping people (mainly myself) to realize that we are all the same!
flyingshaman ══╣╠══
gem_night77 ══╣╠══
That is going to be so hard to remember.

You amaze me. (in such an positive way)
belenen ══╣strong╠══
it is hard. but I will do it! *is determined*

thank you ♥
awesomeosity ══╣╠══
Sounds very interesting. :]
belenen ══╣amused╠══
we'll see how it goes ;-)
browneyedgirl65 ══╣╠══
One of the things I love about ASL is the completely gender free pronouns :-).
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
that is awesome ;-)
tragicnothing ══╣╠══
Hi I'm new here :)

I like the idea I was just wondering if there's any reason you choose the particular terms you did?
I try to use nongender specific language in my blog (except when I am actually talking about a specific gender of course) but I just use "one" or "individuals, persons" etc.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
oh, because when talking about a person, like "so-n-so did this" if you talk for a long time you will want to substitute pronouns for the name. and since English doesn't have any commonly used gender-neutral terms, I chose some new ones which have started to gain use.
winternightsky ══╣╠══
That'll be fun. I have several people on my LJlist who never let other people know their gender what so ever, which is always kind of interesting. I'm, of course, mildly curious to find out which they are, but it doesn't make too much difference to me.
belenen ══╣iconoclast╠══
oh, that is interesting. I don't care if people know my sex, I just don't want to have it referred to every time someone talks about me (not that I think lots of people do, heh).
thatbestkept ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣iconoclast╠══
no, I don't care if you find it amusing. This is really just for me, to influence the way I see the world. It's the 'become the change you wish to see in the world' sort of thing.
phydeau ══╣╠══
I am 10 years running in denouncing the suffix "ess". There is no "stewardess", there are only "stewards", for example (ignore the fact that they're all called "flight attendants", now).

I started this practice back in my theatre days, when certain departments were assumed to be gender dominated. For example, electricians were assumed to be male. The head electrician would then be called the "Master Electrician" OK, that's fine. But Wardrobe and Makeup were assumed to be "womens" positions. The commonly accepted term at the time was "Costume MISTRESS". I refused to use that term, and referred to the head of costumes as "Costume MASTER", regardless of gender.

I'm currently a waiter. I despise the word "waitress". I have several times heard the word "waitress" be verbified. I take serious offense to my job being referred to as "waitressing".

I don't necessarily think that new words need to be invented to be gender-neutral. I have always defended "MAN" as being part of "huMAN". For example: "mankind" was simply short for "huMANkind". "Woman", therefore, just meant "Man with a womb", i.e., "Human with a womb". I think the problem lies with not separating males with humanity. There needs to be a new word for the male of the human species. Keep the "MAN" in "huMAN", but name male humans something else.

Just my two cents.
belenen ══╣feminist╠══
I see what you're saying, but to re-define such a basic concept would be far more difficult (and thus far less likely) than simply removing/combining pronouns. It would be more effective, sure, but it would only work if we had already eliminated sexism, because the very base of sexism is the concept that men are the real humans and women are the cheap knock-offs. If I use 'man' to refer to humans, people do not include women in that. If I use a new term they do not know, they are forced to use 'my' definition.
browneyedgirl65 ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣╠══
kevloid2008 ══╣╠══
you'll have to change your community to 'curvypeople'.
febrile_lune ══╣pic#65107584╠══
I also do my best to refrain from using such gendered terms as 'girly' 'manly' 'feminine' or 'masculine' except as relates to actual body parts.

Curvygirls celebrates the sacredness and glory that is the female body. This isn't to say that the female body is at all superior to a male body--- it means that we're reclaiming the inherent, inextricable beauty of the female body in a society where it is far more often degraded and under appreciated. I can't speak for Bel but my take on it is that there is a difference between confining someone to a certain identity based on gender, and appreciating/exploring the body ...which is one *part* of who someone is. Not to mention an invaluable part. The essence of the female or male body is timeless and eternal and I think it is important to honor what we are given. It's just equally important not to be limited by pre-conceived notions that compartmentalize aspects of ones identity based on stereotypes.
kevloid2008 ══╣╠══
febrile_lune ══╣╠══
febrile_lune ══╣╠══
febrile_lune ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣╠══
cheshm_badoomi ══╣╠══
?????
febrile_lune ══╣╠══
Re: ?????
febrile_lune ══╣╠══
Re: ?????
febrile_lune ══╣╠══
Re: ?????
cheshm_badoomi ══╣╠══
Re: ?????
febrile_lune ══╣╠══
Re: ?????
cheshm_badoomi ══╣╠══
Re: ?????
cheshm_badoomi ══╣╠══
Re: ?????
belenen ══╣╠══
firthy ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣feral╠══
EXACTLY. ;-)
kevloid2008 ══╣╠══
I don't see the point. having code words for things just calls attention to the word you're replacing, making it the elephant in the room nobody talks about. and it could be as tiresome to read as netspeak. I'm just saying.

wouldn't the best way to forget gender be to stop talking about how we should forget about gender? when was the last time you were able to forget something by trying?
febrile_lune ══╣╠══
To just "stop talking about how we should forget about gender" can be interpreted as very invalidating to those who suffer on a daily basis because of gender discrimination, and who understand this isn't something that's just going to go away. It has way too much history and is too far ingrained.
Plus I don't think the point is to FORGET, initially. I don't think you CAN forget this, so soon. Not until it's been acknowledged and reformed. Otherwise people just suffer in silence.
I think that gender discrimination and sexism already IS the elephant in the room! We hardly like to admit as a "culture" that we're very prejudice, when we are. I think we don't like to admit that certain people are privileged over others.

It may be tiresome to read as netspeak... why? Perhaps because it's new? Getting used to a new concept (even if you don't accept it) is indeed draining, or can be. that doesn't mean it's not a good idea, necessarily. For others it is refreshing.

Now, this is not necessarily saying that I 100% agree with using gender-free pro-nouns, this is more ...about what I percieve the dangers of your statement in general.
belenen ══╣╠══
fionavere ══╣╠══
I agree wholeheartedly. I also think this sort of thing brings sexuality into everyday speech where it doesn't necessarily belong. For example let's say you're talking about your friend and some experience she had, your audience doesn't necessarily need to know whether this friend considers herself a "she" or not, or whether you or the friend have decided to reject gender stereotypes.

Gender specific pronouns are to make it easier for the listener to picture who or what you're talking about without having to use the noun over and over. When someone says the words "he" or "she" to me, all I think of is a male or a female person, as in, this person has a penis or a vagina. I do not think "oh, they must be into sports, cars, and chicks in bikinis; or cooking, cleaning, and gardening." But maybe I'm weird, which is altogether possible.

And I agree, it could get extremely tiresome, not to mention confusing to read (imagine if you're talking two different people!).

Bel, I came across this article shortly after our last discussion on this topic (I wasn't even looking!): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/04/07/scimonk107.xml
belenen ══╣feral╠══
you agree with what? I'm confused. did you mean you agree with kevloid2008?

When someone says the words "he" or "she" to me, all I think of is a male or a female person, as in, this person has a penis or a vagina.

and what is the point of knowing that in casual conversation? Perhaps you do not discriminate (though I think every person on this earth has some level of subconscious sexism) but people have a very different view of male and female doctors, philosophers, CEOs, parents, etc. -- and if they did not know the sex of the person, they could not form these discriminatory concepts with QUITE as much ease. And after all, if you feel differently about women than men (as you posted about not too long ago), that does say that the words 'she' and 'he' have greater impact to you than simply giving a mental body shape.

it could get extremely tiresome, not to mention confusing to read

Not any more confusing than if I'm talking about Sally and Sue and refer to them both as 'she'. I would specify who is who in the same way. It would be a little more tedious to write, but negligibly so. And considering that it is only changing a handful of words that I hardly ever use here anyway, I don't think it would be tiresome to read.
fionavere ══╣╠══
aetheric ══╣╠══
I will do my very best to always refer to you using gender-free pronouns. I can't promise I'll always remember, but if it seems like I've forgotten completely (like I never use them anymore one day), don't hesitate to remind me. It's very important to me to honor others' wishes when it comes to things like this.

Out of curiosity only, where do these specific terms originate? Why ze/zir/zirself? I'm fascinated!
belenen ══╣giving╠══
aww, thank you! it does mean a lot that you want to respect me in that way.

I'm not sure where they originated -- I went searching for 'gender-neutral pronouns' and this set made more sense to me than the other one, considering that 'sie' doesn't sound gender-neutral to me.
cheshm_badoomi ══╣╠══
I don't want to belittle what you're doing, I suppose you should do whatever you feel is appropriate to feel "gender free" in your own life. The absence of gendered pronouns isn't going to do much in the way of destroying misogyny, and to be honest I've never been clear on what it hopes to accomplish. I remember someone at school, in a Women's Studies class no less, being absolutely fascinated by the fact that Persian has no gendered pronouns (many languages don't). He thought it was a rather progressive thing, as if gender and patriarchy and misogyny somehow can't exist in a culture whose language doesn't have gendered pronouns. Given everything women have to face, given rape, pornography, sexual trafficking, institutionalized biases in all political systems, etc. etc. etc. I don't think referring to a woman as "ze" rather than "she" is going to do or help much outside of satisfying you personally. It's not really my place to say anything, if it makes you happy go for it, but I have never understood the purpose of gender free anything, at least not until what seems like more pressing issues are taken care of.
febrile_lune ══╣╠══
But one of the main reasons people feel so entitled to perform misogyny or racism or any discrimination is because there is emphasis on "the other". It becomes easier to separate oneself from another person if someone is separated from you by category, which makes it easier to establish ranks and justify mistreatment. I don't necessarily think that using gender-free pronouns could alone completely revolutionize the misogynistic society, but maybe it could do a lot more than it might at first sound like. Eh, again, I'm very undecided about this but perhaps it would make the other 'more pressing' issues easier to tackle, too, as it would work toward dismantling the notion of "the other", which is at the root of all those issues.

There are separate reasons as to why I think this may do harm, but that's very complicated and I don't think I should get into it right now. But I don't necessarily think that it won't be at all effective, either...
cheshm_badoomi ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣╠══
cheshm_badoomi ══╣╠══
ladywind ══╣╠══
Would you like to know a funny thing?
(funny="unexpected and worth a smile", not funny-odd or funny-humorous)

Since you posted this, I've been running my tongue over it like a broken tooth, trying to figure out why it sparked a discomfort in me, despite my thought that gender is in the mind of the person being beheld.

I just didn't grok a time when it could be appropriate, except when referring to folk who're militantly disavowing gender (I can count you on one hand, although I'm occasionally a bit ambiguous there myself).

And then I found myself in a conversation with a friend, discussing whether she'd taken a problem she was having to her patron deity... and it occurred to me that I didn't know who that deity was, and therefore, had no idea which pronoun would fit...

And there was the vocabulary you kindly provided, sitting smugly on the tip of my tongue.

And now I think I get it, just a little better.

Here's to changing habits; they say it takes three solid weeks for one to imprint. :)
belenen ══╣iconoclast╠══
Re: Would you like to know a funny thing?
I knew I'd really like you ;-)

something another friend helped me to realize: These gender-neutral terms are not an 'other,' they are inclusive. They're not ONLY for people who are other than male or female, or ONLY for those who "militantly [disavow] gender" -- they are for ALL people -- male, female, intersexed, transsexual. It is not meant to ignore or take away a person's sex; it is meant to speak of the person within the body. So if I call you 'ze' I am referring to the person that you are, without happening to mention your sex.
ladywind ══╣╠══
Re: Would you like to know a funny thing?
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on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.