criticism in good faith i promise 

@nerdsorrow So I've been thinking about this extensively, and what I think is that actually you're at the forefront of the shift that we're seeing in gender in Anglophone contexts. The gender-studies literature tends to proceed from the assumption that gender is a publicly performed thing, and I think at least, in the last 100 years or so, it has been. But I also think that's changing. (continued because I don't know how to talk about this in a short way)

criticism in good faith i promise 

@nerdsorrow My first reaction to this, as someone steeped in that literature, was "What's private about gender?" precisely because I understand gender to be about social performance, which is public, rather than about bodies, which are private.

But I think what the pronoun discourse is moving us towards actually is the reality you want, where gender is not assumed to be readable from performance, and anyway shouldn't affect how someone is treated.

criticism in good faith i promise 

@nerdsorrow As a linguist, my prediction is that gendered pronouns are on the way out, and soon we will only be left with "it" and "they," and pronouns will exclusively code for animacy. And then, we will indeed be closer to a place where we make fewer assumptions about gender.

But as gendered pronouns haven't died yet, we're in this awkward place where we have to know to speak English grammatically, but we also (correctly) can't assume someone's gender.

Follow

criticism in good faith i promise 

@nerdsorrow And so we wind up asking, and for people who've already made the shift to seeing gender as private, of course that's a terribly invasive thing, and we're caught in this terrible Whorfian place where we're trying to wrestle with both decency and grammar, and coming up short.

As I've found myself concluding a lot this week on queer issues, I think the change IS happening, for the better, but not fast enough to cope with the pain already in the world.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Scholar Social

Scholar Social is a microblogging platform for researchers, grad students, librarians, archivists, undergrads, academically inclined high schoolers, educators of all levels, journal editors, research assistants, professors, administrators—anyone involved in academia who is willing to engage with others respectfully.