It seems more like manufactured outrage, committed in varying degrees by both sides of the issue. Not everything in life needs to be a crisis of conscience.
"She is going to the store."
"They is going to the store."
That last one sounds like I don't know how to speak properly. "They" has been plural, and sounds appropriate in 'many, gender neutral' context.
"It" is the singular gender neutral... But that pronoun sounds like you're demeaning someone. Like,
"It is going to the store."
That sentence is correct but seems pretty damn dehumanizing.
I dunno.. Language is hard.
If he or she isn't appropriate, invent a new pronoun instead of overloading an existing word. Just like you'd do in a programming language instead of overloading 'if' to mean different things in different contexts.
It seems to me at worst "they" is equally non-specific. Sure a clear, singular non-gendered pronoun would be better, but in the absence of such a thing existing, "they" actually seems better than "he" in this context.
Edit: I'd also point out, singular "they" has existed since at least the 14th century, so it's not like anyone is attempting to modify the language by encouraging it's usage.
Indeed, but the miscommunication here is implied plural. "They are ..." Who is going (expecting 2 or more)?
I don't care that we use a gender neutral pronoun. Just using an existing word makes understanding hard.
We've somehow figured it out for several hundred years, I think we'll be fine.
You look at something like german and dogs (Hund) are neuter, unless you use a female version (Hundin). Boys (Jünge) are male. Girls(Mädchen) are neuter. Fork(Gabel) is female.
In speech I mostly use "he" automatically, then I recognise my fault after a few sentence, then correct. Sometimes it feels so embarassing to recognise that I have just told a story about my wife refering her as he. (of course most of the time, I only mention her to people who know her already - so usually I don't have to explain myself)
My take: There's no good reason for English to require you to specify gender in certain grammatical forms, and there are plenty of real-world situations where it is either awkward or nonsensical. Sometimes it's a hypothetical person who obviously doesn't have a gender, sometimes it's one of a group of people of mixed gender, sometimes you can't visually tell the gender of the person (and obviously you can never visually tell what pronoun they prefer), sometimes all you have is the person's name, which often isn't enough to know gender. For most people and in most situations, it's usually not a big deal (though it's a little extra unnecessary overhead and chance for awkwardness), but for some people, it's repeatedly disheartening when others misgender them. A singular pronoun for "that person" is a completely valid concept, and more than deserving of a word in English, and I think English would be a better language if that was the default way to refer to people.
> two thirds of the LGBTQ community have frequently or often heard homophobic comments
It sounds weird to use the suffix phobic for something other than a fear. I doubt that the comments that 2/3 of them hear was something along the lines of "don't get close to that gay person or else you'll get AIDS". I'm guessing what they were referring to was comments like "I'm going to continue to call you he even though you insist that you are she". A better word would be antihomo or homo-hating.
I assume homophobic is used to make fun or degrade those people. Similarly to how terrorists are called cowards (even though I don't know of many people with enough guts to die for what they believe in) or calling kids suffering from cancer as brave (what else should they do? Die?).
I think it stems from how people would react to the thought or sight of homosexual acts. The response some homophobes have to two men kissing can be compared to a child's reaction to seeing broccoli on their plate.
Of course there are still people like that, but when talking about the meaning of words, I think it's important to point out the difference. We often conflate revulsion to a sexual act with prejudice to people who identify with that sexuality. They almost always go hand in hand, but the point is that there's a case to be made for the word "homophobic."
If anything, I would say that "homophobic" is too soft a label for actual prejudiced people. We think of real phobias as something we should tolerate in people and something we should be sensitive towards. That's not the case here.
Yeah, but that case is rare, while the usage isn't. Homomisiac would be more accurate, though I find that too strong for many occasions: hate is quite high on the dislike-scale, and shouldn't be the first one to go for.
> We think of real phobias as something we should tolerate in people and something we should be sensitive towards. That's not the case here.
Unrelated: that sounds like you believe that people make a conscious choice regarding what they like and don't like, and to what degree they do so. I'm pretty sure you're going to have a rough awakening at some point.
That's not how I meant it. I was alluding to the many examples in society where discrimination against homosexuality is not tolerated: in the workplace and legally in other cases, but also in the community at large. That is an observation of the society we live in and how a member of it should adhere to the norms of that society and its laws. It does not contain information about my own individual, personal viewpoints.
To clarify the point I was making: let's say a company needs to transport an employee to another state. The employee is afraid of flying. That company, being sensitive toward the employee's phobia, permits him to drive instead. Contrast this with an employee who refused to make a sales call to someone who is gay, because that client is gay. Would you say that that employee should receive the same amount of tolerance and sensitivity as the one who was afraid of flying?
To make it even more complex, what about the employee who refuses to make a solo sales call to someone who is the opposite gender, for religious reasons? At a dinner meeting for example.
What level of accommodation, if any, should society demand for this salesperson?
What if the salesperson is LGBT and refused to make a sales call to an anti-LGBT organization?
Should society demand both these salespeople to be given the same level of accommodation?
It depends on how much I think about it and who is asking. If anybody who isn't academically interested is asking: Of course not, how dare you even present this idea!
Otherwise, starting from the lack of free will, why are we judging them differently, and aren't we claiming that one made a conscious choice to not talk to gay people while the other didn't make a conscious choice to not fly? I'm with you that norms and traditions provide a clear answer, one that I'd most likely give as well intuitively. (And I'd be very surprised if you couldn't treat both with similar methods; neither is treated by firing her.)
This happens continuously, whether we talk about it or not.
People - including me - have been using the singular gender-neutral “they” for decades. I was never taught to use it. There’s no shadowy cabal trying to get people to use it. It’s just a natural change in the language that I and million of other speakers have picked up.
Language changes continuously. Just because someone doesn’t personally use a construct doesn’t mean that it’s an example of artificial change of language.
I think it is really interesting to deconstruct this. Most European languages have gender as a more central concept in the language; as the author points out "In Spanish, if referring to a group of friends containing both genders, you would use amigos, clearly favoring the masculine form". It seems like these languages would be even more clumsy around these non gendered cases!
Perhaps not having gendered nouns causes other gendered grammatical constructs (in this case personal pronouns) to stand out more. Do speakers of other languages with gender as a key construct see changes happening in those languages to make the language more gender neutral or does the high prevalence of gendering make that too intractable?
Not as far as I can tell in French.
Keep in mind that many adjectives are modified by gender (eg. la belle chaise, le beau fauteuil, where belle is used for the feminine and beau is used for the masculine form) and that there isn't a non gendered form, unlike German.
Sometimes, both forms can be used (for example, "les ouvriers et ouvrières" where both gendered nouns are used) but it gets cumbersome and clunky rather quickly, and is discouraged in certain style guides from what I recall.
When the plural masculine form is used, it's generally considered ambiguous as to whether it's a mixed gender group or a solely masculine group. In cases where the gender of the constituents of the group is actually relevant (it often isn't), typical usage will refer to both gendered nouns then will just refer to the group as "vous" (closest equivalent in English is the plural you, as in "Male and female workers of Foocorp, you have done a great job this year. Your dedication has...") to avoid having to carry both nouns throughout the text.
There was a wave a few years ago, but it was not very successful as far as I know, since it can get pretty complicated (du·de la boulanger·ère) and is not meant to be used verbally, only in written form.
When one side insists that gender is the only operative concept, then they are possibly forcing a meaning (confusing sex for gender) to the other side, no matter how well-intentioned or offended they are.
That being said, I'd be okay with getting rid of the pronouns completely. Chinese seems to do okay without them.
IMHO "he/him" remains the grammatically correct gender-unspecified singular pronoun, although the "they/them" enthusiasts seem to be gaining traction.
Why do you think it's new?
Now take all that effort from all those other folks trying to correct you, and imagine it's all bundled up into one person. One person corrects each of those strangers. Because that person's pronoun may not be the one correctly used by the others. That power and wrath you were subjected to still applies to this one individual, of course. It's not reversed. That's a shit ton of effort and resistance against power and wrath for one person. Every day. For the rest of their life.
So maybe it is a little less about politics, and being a little more empathetic to people who have to struggle daily through this.
Do we have empathy for all of them, no matter how extreme, or is there some limit at which we are allowed to say "This is where our empathy ends"? Can we say, for example, that a furry is less deserving of empathy than a LGBTQ individual? And if so, then why?
I am talking about using pronoun words. That's it!
I'm not here to discuss my deeply personal world view philosophy. I am simply trying to show how gendered pronoun misuse sucks and is really easy to fix. No ulterior motives.
I am not open to the very common internet trope of "criticize by reducto ad absurdum with no alternative proposal". It's an online game of faux intellectualism I abhor and refuse to play. I prefer it staying on Reddit and not leaking here.
I don't view it as "an extension" of my argument because it's not my place to defend it. I didn't come up with it. It's not my argument. It's not theirs either. They aren't defending the goths and furries. Neither one of us have a stake in the matter. It's a waste of everyone's time.
I'm not a follower of Kant's second formulation of the categorical imperative. Please don't take the arguments I say and extend them to an extreme degree and evaluate at boundary conditions just to prove that yes, my philosophy must have contradictions at the fringes, thus my moral framework is flawed and not the right one.
I'm not a follower of utilitarianism. Please don't take the arguments I say and take an assumed utility function and declare that it also evaluates to "eat poor people to solve world hunger and overpopulation" just to illustrate that my philosophical view must be a cold and heartless one at the fringes, thus my moral framework is flawed and not the right one.
When it comes to moral philosophy, once can't be too rigid in following this practice, otherwise you wind up in a boring absolutist-nihilism or a boring absolutist-relativism world. The depressing fact is that we are all hypocritical creatures, the real "living" (in my view) in life is each of us coming to terms with that. The world is full of color, where people apply different moral frameworks for different kinds of problems. Using the extreme fringes of moral philosophy to evaluate more mundane problems of morality is not the only line of ethical reasoning.
Edited to add: So this is why I don't engage in these kinds of online discussions anymore where someone extends my argument without my input and now I am expected to defend it. I fundamentally view them as a different and unproductive kind of discussion that doesn't lead to insightful reasoning. I used to engaging on the internet in this way, but it's taken me about a decade to fully realize the relative unproductiveness of it all.
I've noticed that more and more authors have just started to randomly (or by some pattern that I don't know) use "she" instead of "he" in about half the examples (as in "a user visits our home page. She might be annoyed when she has to wait for multiple seconds"). It works flawlessly and I find it much easier to read than "they" personally. I've talked to multiple people about content that I know includes that and nobody mentioned it in a negative way (but two people liked it).