Pronouns

There is a problem on these sorts of online forums of presumed male pronouns (more of a problem on the other forum than here, because here mostly pronouns are supplanted by simply tagging someone). My feeling is that if the norm here was for people to publicly display their pronouns, this would be a safer and more accepting place of queer, gender nonconforming, and all people!

Here’s a basic resource if you’re not super familiar with pronouns and why they are important.

I am sensitive to the fact that some people (including maybe especially gender nonconforming people) might prefer anonymity in this sort of space – I would love to hear from people if they think this is the case, or if they have any sorts of feelings about this or how it would be implemented. If you click on my name, you can see I put my pronoun after my name which pops up in the window – this way pronouns are easily found in the course of a conversation without having to navigate to another page. Very open to other ideas, just figured I’d go ahead and do this as a proposed example.

I think it is a given, but I will reiterate – this will only work if many cis identifying people also publicly display their pronouns. If you think your pronouns are “normal” and you’ve never been misgendered I encourage you to question that feeling and consider that actions like putting your pronouns on your social media and email signature can do a lot (especially in a work place) to help normalize the stating and respecting of peoples pronouns.

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I’ve just updated my summary to include my preferred pronouns (he/they) and I’m also happy to talk to curious folks.

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I’ve found this community in general has been really supportive and inclusive, and I think having the option to include pronouns [if someone chooses] would be nice. I’ve done the same as @wheelersounds and updated my summary too :wink:

Recently I’ve been exploring my gender identity and find myself gravitating the most towards non-binary and they/them.

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I do my level best to never use pronouns online for fear of offending UNLESS I know the person well and am confident. But mostly I’m not confident. And so.

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Thanks for calling this out. And done.

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totally agree!

with the slight caveat of after “coming out” as she/her on this very forum a few years ago I’m now a bit more confused/undecided on this issue and don’t know where I come down. Kinda defaulting to they/them for now but not upset about any particular combo (just maybe not thrilled by some).

Anyway just throwing it out that while I generally think it’s a good thing, just realize it might be awkward for those of us that don’t quite know where we fit into this whole thing right now :upside_down_face:

ps: sorry for shoehorning my dumb self into this convo, but I’ve been looking for a tactful way to slightly ease-back my most popular lines post :X

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What I like about the proposal here is the “don’t assume, check” nature of it. Could we all agree to “they/them” as default unless a profile specifically indicates otherwise?

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this is a common default, however some people have fought hard in their personal lives to assert a specific gender identity and have had to deal with people assigning them gender neutral instead of gender affirming pronouns. my understanding is best practice by default is no pronouns – use names.

(I do find myself defaulting to they/them often, and I think generally it’s a practice that most of the time is okay if there’s no indication other pronouns are preferred and you haven’t had a chance to ask – just want to point out that it’s not a perfect solution)

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i feel you <3 i’m mostly identifying as gender fluid these days, because there are literally back to back days where it feels different – i’m still male presenting and not out as fluid (or queer) to most of my family. I didn’t come out to any of them until my little sibling did last year when they were 9 years old. Everyone in the family gets their pronouns wrong often, poor kid is very easy going about it – they’re much more interested in guinea pigs at the moment but it really breaks my heart. I regret not laying more groundwork for them. Trying to improve pronoun usage all around because of that.

my goal here is especially to get cis people to put their pronouns just to normalize it, so that it’s a safer place for people to change their pronouns or reveal their pronouns as they feel comfortable. gender is weird! and doesn’t connect 1-to-1 with pronoun preference! so lets all be gentle and open and safe :slight_smile:

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Hey, thanks for this. I hadn’t heard this argument about they/them default being in its own way problematic. I’mma try to skip pronouns in general, as a default.

Also, yes, cis friends: list your pronouns! Normalize this conversation!

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Had never heard this argument before, and, to be honest, sort of felt or assumed that specifying so called “normal” pronouns took away from the power of declaring anything else. I’ve added mine and appreciate this conversation taking place here. Thank you.

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Last year I added my preferred pronouns (he/him) to my work email signature, and will do soon here too. I’ve tried to make my default the name of the person I’m talking with or about, unless I know them well enough to use their preferred pronouns. I have had weird reactions with folks who drag their heels in this venture, but I rarely get any negative feedback from the people I really care about.

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Not something I’d like to see as a societal edict, but just part of my own personal view.

I heard a talk about michel foucault’s work. Apparently he held the view that the labeling of people based on their sexual preference, or gender related identity, was actualy a way for the ruling class to be better able to supress the minority.

Someone subscribing to this perspective might say, that the differentiation between the smaller cultural group and the mainstream, is the leverage the greater group has to marginalize them further. Now this is not the only factor. Men and women are about 50/50 in number yet there still are power struggles.

But imagine if being of african descent was not visible from the outside it might be harder to discriminate. We all know non-western names for example are a disadvantage in getting a job.

So if the modern gender pronouns become part of your name, essentialy as in leftist circles and sometimes in greater society we’re starting to see happen. Somewhat what you’re proposing here. Are we really sure it will lead to less hurt feelings?

If being gay for example, like foucault was, was not a category. No one would be able to hurt you with a lable. Even a ‘side-eyed’ calling of the preferred pronoun still is no fun, I imagine.

The people who act intolerantly towards ‘the other’ will not change and still be disrespectful, with their attitude. Or maybe the plusses will outweigh the minuses, you can’t say.

I personaly think the overt labeling has negative influences as well, towards the same goal of being kind to people, and improving society.

I would prefer personaly, that we just asume that everyone is equal in the first place. So far with the people I’ve met who had ‘different’ pronouns, a simple conversation when introducing ourselves worked great.

A fun aspect of a somewhat more oldschool internet board/forum, nice and modern as this one is, is that everyone is more equal as well, because you can’t immediately identify parts of their person. Kind of the same way school uniforms are supposed to work.

So I would prefer that, but I do think it’s good to think about terms like ‘guys’ adressing a group of people, who are not all guys.

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Are we as a society willing to sacrifice our identities to limit forms of oppression? I wonder if reversing the wording changes how we think about this central point. In that a way a ruling class may suppress a minority is in the use of labels. It’s a small distinction, but changes subtly how I understand your description here. I don’t know any of Foucault’s work well enough to speak about them directly. But I also have a hard time thinking that fending off oppression/oppressors is best achieved by not assuming our own identities. In a round about way, that sounds like a form oppression itself, in that we are unwilling to celebrate or acknowledge our own identities out of fear. This has turned into more of a steam of conscience than I expected, so I hope I’m making sense here.

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This is a perfect solution in person or in one-to-one conversation. In a place like this putting it in your profile, if you desire, accomplishes a similar goal - it makes the information “askable” rather than invisible. And as long as our linguistic norms revert to masculine pronouns and terminology it feels important to make evident that this is not the actual norm.

While the spirit of this is true in an idealized world, that’s not the world we live in. We cant retroactively remove categorization, and if anything we’ve seen that humans are categorization animals at heart… we can’t not do it.

So, if these categories, both helpful and hurtful, already exist, we can aim to take ownership of them in an effort to reduce harm and allow for free expression and identity building.

There is also a counter argument, that hiding from oppressors in power by erasing your identity only leads to further oppression and less ability to build societal support.

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Posting again because I want to add something that isn’t related to my previous reply.

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As a non-conforming heterosexual cis-male I have also felt the aggression of the male-language dominance in western English. If be a “he” means so much of what I’ve experienced it meaning, then I also reject that label as both an identity and a social aggregator.

I don’t know if that has any applicable impact on my daily life, but I’d love to see wider adoption of gender neutral as the baseline in absence of a clear preference by the individual. I would love to be referred to as “they/them” more generally, distancing from a group that has hurt me and many others. But I’m also okay with “he/him” when people know me, because then it doesn’t hold the generic connotation.

I also understand that if you don’t know me, and are only judging by appearance, you have no way to know that I’m not socially a “he” in the way that it is understood…

A bit of a stream of consciousness outpouring, and I’m not sure if anyone else will relate with this at all.

But all of that is to say that this shit is complicated and if we can have better generic defaults that aren’t as loaded with assumptions that would be great.

Edit — also that there are reasons an individual might want to use generic pronouns that aren’t specifically to do with gender identity, but also about identifying with a gender group culturally.

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Yes, that is the other side of it.

There are jewish-american people who go by a different last name in order to be less stigmatized.

Some people think that may be a bad thing. Others think that they onderstand why. It’s complicated.

When it comes to physical disabilities for example, I have a quite severe handicap. But it’s an illness that is somewhat invisible. Compared to a wheelchair bound person. This has pro’s and cons as well, when it comes to how people treat you. Though this is not comparable to gender identity as such, it might help to see the point.

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How do I edit my profile?

Thanks!

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If you’re not familiar with the idea, this is called passing.

I’m second generation of an Eastern European Jewish family in Canada. I have in my life had to pass for “normal” to avoid confrontation and prejudice numerous times. But passing isn’t something that everyone can do, as you point out in your example. Now that I’m older and more generally aware I do what I can do not pass as something else. I take up those confrontations and stand up for people when I’m able to.

I understand why people do it. It’s also a privilege that I’m willing to give up in order to support people who can’t.

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Click on your avatar in the upper right corner and choose the gear icon for “settings”. Profile is an option in there.

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