Social Question

Demosthenes's avatar

Why are people willing to die on the pronoun hill?

Asked by Demosthenes (14470points) 2 months ago
54 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

An article about an Irish teacher who is in jail for not using a student’s preferred pronouns (indirectly—he was suspended for not using them, then continued to come to campus despite his suspension, which led to his arrest) is making the rounds on the internet. On one hand it amazes me that this is a hill people are willing to die on. I’ve had no issue using “they” to refer to a non-binary co-worker of mine. On the other, I do wonder if the trans/non-binary lobby is shooting itself in the foot in acting like a refusal to use preferred pronouns is “violence”, getting so hung up on this issue that now people who refuse to comply are portrayed as noble virtuous martyrs who won’t kowtow to wokeism no matter how much the system tries to break them and force them into compliance (that is certainly how this story is being portrayed in right-wing media).

What do you make of this issue? Are people making too big of an issue over pronouns?

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ragingloli's avatar

It is not that they care about pronouns, or their use.
They just despise trans people, and it makes them sick to their stomach to be expected to afford them any kind of respect.
All this talk about “wokeism” is just a ploy to attribute some kind of nefarious agenda to trans people, an accusation of an overt conspiracy by “leftists” and “cultural marxists” to “destroy western civilisation”, in an attempt to mask their base bigotry with a thin veneer of legitimacy.

hat's avatar

I’m not a liberal, and are well aware of how insincere and performative much of liberal politics can be. But I don’t think this is one of those cases. With pronouns, we have the following:

1. Using preferred pronouns makes a real difference in creating a non-hostile and welcoming atmosphere – especially in work and school environments.
2. Using preferred pronouns is easy, costs nothing, and there are no downsides. None.

People can and will make mistakes. That’s fine. But actually pushing back on it is something else altogether. It is pure anti-trans hatred.

The only people making a big deal of this are people that will not accept reality. They are convinced that gender and sex are the same thing and hate people who don’t confirm to very specific boxes that have been socially constructed.

Young people (generally) don’t seem to share any of the confusion and hatred that older reactionaries have. So, this is all very puzzling to them. It is though they see people freaking out because people would prefer to be called by their actual name rather than something a stranger has made up.

Every single reactionary would be all in on using correct pronouns if they were suddenly referred to by pronouns they don’t identify with. Sean Hannity doesn’t want to be called “her” or “she”.

hat (3324points)“Great Answer” (11points)
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hat's avatar

Re: “suspensions and arrests” – I looked up the Irish teacher. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this what happened:

- Teacher refuses to follow school’s policy, and decides to bully student(s).
– Teacher is suspended on full pay.
– Teacher refuses to stay home from suspension and continues to go to work.
– The administration files an injunction restraining him from coming into the building.
– He continues to show up at the school.
– He is arrested for violating the injunction and trespassing.

This case seems to have little-to-nothing to do with pronouns, and more to do with a workplace violation and trespassing. Did I miss something?

hat (3324points)“Great Answer” (10points)
canidmajor's avatar

And in the 70s harassment claims by women on university campuses made temporary martyrs out of conservative men. Then things changed because of harassment claims by women.

And it looks like you missed my little point. Oh well.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

J. Krishnamurti said that groups are violence. Creating any groups at all is violence. I think that’s what the activists are getting at when they call misgendering violence. I agree with them, but I also agree with Krishnamurti.

Many decades ago, there was racism and hatred of blacks. That faded. It faded; it didn’t go away, but it faded from the headlines until we elected a black president.

After racism faded from the headlines, anti-gay hatred replaced it. During the AIDS crisis, it was de reguer to laugh at dying fags. That lasted until we elected Clinton and drugs were created that worked to control the disease. It faded; it has not gone away, but it has faded.

Now, we have transphobia. Hatred of trans people has taken center stage.

All this to reiterate that Krishnamurti was right. Grouping is violence.

Demosthenes's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake I agree that this does seem to be the “new thing”. It’s not acceptable to hate homosexuals to the same extent anymore; they have entered too much into the mainstream. Trans rights are newer, trans people are less accepted, and it’s more acceptable to disrespect and hate them. (I don’t think all these things are exactly the same; transitioning involves medical intervention in a way that sexuality and race don’t. Not that that excuses anti-trans bigotry).

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

^And I agree that the lengths some transphobes are willing to go to is absurd.

Brian1946's avatar

I think it would be fun to call transphobes by a pronoun other than the one that they prefer.

“Today, the gubner of Texass said that she opposes raising the minimum age of gun ownership to 21. It said that guns and fetuses should have more rights than people!”

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Brian1946 Maybe fetuses should be allowed guns to protect from abortion doctors? Stand your ground laws, should apply.

chefl's avatar

@Demosthenes I’m sure you didn’t mean to, but your question is saying:
Maybe using a person’s prefered pronoun is something to fight against, [like refusing to state that the person who wants to be called fat “fat” when he/she is in fact very thin, for example] but not enough to go to jail for it. (Edited)

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HP's avatar

There are people willing to die on both sides for every issue.

RayaHope's avatar

Could someone please explain this topic to me? I have read it several times and I still don’t get what it’s about. I know it has to do with LGBTQ people but I don’t get dying on“pronoun hill”

KNOWITALL's avatar

I haven’t used pronouns, but if I were told I’d have no problem using them. Or trying. Odd thing to fight to me.

@Hawaii_Jake ‘laugh at dying fags’
That hurt to even read, but I’m sure it’s true for some sicko’s.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@KNOWITALL The Reagan administration’s press secretary repeatedly made jokes about gay men dying in his official capacity. That administration and the next did next to nothing to mitigate the suffering. Funding for necessary medicine was a trickle.

HP's avatar

@RayaHope the pronoun involved is the word “they”

Demosthenes's avatar

@RayaHope Pronoun Hill sounds like a location in Schoolhouse Rock xD

What it refers to is one of two cases: a non-binary person (someone who does not identify as either a man or woman) requesting to be referred to as “they” rather than “he” or “she” (the example in the article that inspired this question), or a trans person requesting to be referred to as the pronoun of the gender they’ve transitioned to (e.g. someone born male, originally referred to as “he”, now wanting to be referred to as “she”). Some people refuse to accommodate these pronoun requests and will insist on referring to the pronoun that corresponds to the person’s sex at birth (so the non-binary person would have to be “she” if born female, and the trans woman would have to still be “he”).

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake I was still a tween, my first vote was for Bill. That’s horrible, I’ll have to look that up on youtube, wow.

RayaHope's avatar

@Demosthenes Oh thank you so much for explaining this so I can grasp it. For what it’s worth I believe a non-binary person should be called what they identify with since THAT IS who they are. Your mind is the most important part of anybody and that is what we should be addressing.

gorillapaws's avatar

@RayaHope’s answer gives me hope for the future.

@Brian1946 “I think it would be fun to call transphobes by a pronoun other than the one that they prefer.”

How about a mocking use of “massa?”

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Like dumb-ass @gorillapaws

Is that pronoun ?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@KNOWITALL Here’s one. I have not watched the whole thing. I lived through it. I have read many books about the crisis. There’s a lot of very good history coming out these days about the crisis and the activism that rose in response to society’s indifference and the government’s inaction.

Forever_Free's avatar

Would you call someone by their wrong name and expect to not be corrected?
Get used to it. People are allowed to take a stand on their desire for proper pronoun use as well.
I know many teachers who are in the front lines of this with school kids. Teachers HAVE to respect each person for their pronoun wants. They get fired if not.
What is wrong with people not allowing another person their desired want?
What’s next? Book Burning? Denying a specific color to be worn? Treating someone different because of the color of their skin?
Get a grip people. Pay attention to your own house.

JLeslie's avatar

Generally speaking, I think call people what they prefer. Respect what feels comfortable to them.

I’ve said this multiple times regarding the insistence of many Southerners to use Miss Firstname. They don’t ask what you prefer, if you tell them, “you can just call me Firstname,” many of them persist on using Miss Firstname. If it’s regarding their child they often will outright say something on the order of, “my child is instructed not to call adults just by their first name.” In other words, their idea of respect trumps respecting what the actual individual requests. I was raised that showing respect is calling people by what they ask, and if not stated we often ask them.

Ok, now we have this pronoun thing, so my question is, is this person refusing to use “they,” or the person just keeps screwing it up because they are not accustomed to saying it? Intention matters in things like this in my opinion. If the intention is to accommodate the request, then people need to relax a little and not be so easily offended. You can just correct the person nicely, you don’t have to be upset. If it’s constant then I can see how that would be frustrating and start to question their intention.

It sounds like this person refuses to use the requested pronoun, and I think if that is the case that is a problem.

Mostly, the trans, non-binary issue is a manufactured political wedge issue. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real people getting hurt by it and we shouldn’t care, that means the publicity around it is making it seem like it is a much bigger issue than it is. At the same time sometimes issues need to be blown up to get any movement or understanding.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

For people who are mostly outside the issue (straight and not political) the volume and attention that this gets appears a little odd, even cult-ish. Honestly, not too many people really care about this. It’s a big deal to those who want to be called by their preferred pronouns and it appears to be an even bigger deal to a few people who are against doing so for whatever reason. Best I can tell is that some parents don’t want their children to be heavily influenced or pressured by those who they see as activists. The feeling is they would attempt to make up their minds for them. I have not seen much real evidence of that but there certainly is a lot of propaganda flying around it though. You have heard them, stories of pre-puberty medical interventions and such. I have not seen or heard of any in real life so while anecdotal, I think the fear is a little overblown. This is such a contentious issue and it does not need to be. Just call people what they want and move on.

Demosthenes's avatar

I also just think it’s the least you can do. I recently read about Kiwi Farms, this website where its members harass and stalk trans internet personalities and activists until they hopefully commit suicide, which has happened in a few cases. The site was recently shut down by its host and that was considered extremely controversial because “freeze peach”; apparently our freedom to harass and drive someone to their death needs to be protected. Anti-trans hysteria has gone from being insane to downright evil.

HP's avatar

It’s a tough nut to crack. Of course people have the right to be referred to with the pronoun of their choice. But our language itself renders it awkward to address a single individual as they. That will certainly change over time as kids today are aware of the issue and (I assume) will be schooled accordingly. But it is incumbent on the individual to state “their” preference gender wise and allow for unintended slips in the course of normal conversation. Those deliberately defying those preferences get no sympathy from me. My own solution if I encounter an individual with a heavy beard wearing a dress is to engineer my side of any conversation to remain pronoun free in reference to the individual in front of me. This is a wonderful place for honing such skills.

JLeslie's avatar

By the way, my husband uses he and she incorrectly enough to notice. It’s a second language thing. Is that supposed to upset people?

Dutchess_III's avatar

The pronouns in question are “he” & “she.” If someone is a male physically but identifies as a female, you need to respect her wishes to call them “her.”

JLeslie's avatar

^^The pronouns that the teacher was suspended for was not using they or them.

jca2's avatar

I agree with using what people request to be used, but I think it’s extreme to arrest someone over not doing it, the way I would think it’s extreme if someone referred to me as a “sir” or a “mister” or a “he” and it was proposed that they be arrested.

I think the right wingers are going to seize on this as another extreme overreaction of woke society and it’s going to be mocked and there will be a backlash.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 Good point about the backlash.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 Interesting article. If the teacher was suspended and not allowed on school grounds, and the teacher kept returning to the school I’d call the police also. The teacher is being hostile and obstinate.

The BLM flag in the classroom example, I think the teacher was dead wrong putting that up in a classroom. I don’t think she should be fired right on the spot, unless she refused to take it down. I’d say firing her is fine if she over and over again has political signage in the classroom. One could argue BLM is not blatantly political, but I think it is in the environment we have today. Teaching about BLM I have no problem with.

Firing a teacher for assigning a book sounds horrible to me, but I don’t know the contents of the book. There is a difference between burning books and what books are acceptable as reading assignments.

hat's avatar

@jca2: “I agree with using what people request to be used, but I think it’s extreme to arrest someone over not doing it”

Glad you finally Googled it and realized that it Enoch was in no way arrested over not using correct pronouns.

@jca2: “I think the right wingers are going to seize on this as another extreme overreaction of woke society and it’s going to be mocked and there will be a backlash.”

It’s not that the right-wing media/propaganda seize on incidents like this. It’s quite the opposite. They manufacture these things and completely lie about them in order to generate sympathy from an uninformed public. Even this tiny Fluther thread was victim to the insanity. @Demosthenes insinuated that Enoch’s arrest had to do with pronouns. And others gave voice to this framing (“I agree with using what people request to be used, but I think it’s extreme to arrest someone over not doing it”).

JLeslie's avatar

@hat Actually, Demosthenes wrote the teacher was arrested for continually going back to the school. Most people on the thread just talked about not being willing to use the pronoun requested by the individual.

You’re probably right that the right wing reporting will be edited down and twisted.

Politics in the US is full of manufactured or overblown wedge issues. It’s really very sad.

hat's avatar

@JLeslie: “Actually, Demosthenes wrote the teacher was arrested for continually going back to the school.”

Actually, I read exactly what he wrote.

chefl's avatar

He was arrested for tresspassing. Would the school not have called the police for tresspassing if it were about any of the other things that teachers get suspended or fired for like assaulting someone for example? Of course it would have. But fake news is fake news whether it’s found on TV or website.

hat's avatar

^ You ok?

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