Guest post: The entire edifice rests on sexism

Originally a comment by Nullius in Verba on A tool that enforces sexism.

Proffering pronouns conceptually depends on the view that “one’s pronouns” are (1) of critical importance and (2) self-determined and inaccessible to others if not publicly stated. (2) gets most of the attention, as it’s the more obviously wrongheaded notion. We know what pronouns are and how they work, because we’ve been using them since we started emulating our parents’ speech as babies. Seeing that these demands for announcing pronouns, which are not always even words, are incompatible with what pronouns are and how they work is easy and intuitive for most people with functioning brain cells not warped by propaganda and in-group loyalty. Unfortunately, the ease of opposing (2) means that (1) doesn’t get the attention it deserves, which is probably most of it.

For whom is the practice of presenting pronouns putatively important? Believers don’t claim that it’s important for everyone—except instrumentally. They don’t even claim that it’s important for them—except instrumentally. Pronoun declarations are solely for those who refuse to participate in the English language specifically and reality generally. All of us and all the “allies” become mere means toward the end of sating some ill-defined need of those who fall under the “trans umbrella”, because they feel that “their” pronouns are of utmost importance. By engaging in the pronoun farce, the believer signals submission to the feelings of those who claim trans and enby status. Believers naively respond to purported suffering without realizing that endorsement of the conclusion (i.e., pronouns are existential) tacitly endorses the premises on which the conclusion depends.

And what are those? Sastra summarized the belief structure nicely:

Pronoun culture is a tool that reinforces sexism because it’s derived from a life stance in which it really, really matters if you’re a man or a woman or neither or both. That’s because the premise is that being a man or a woman or neither or both is the very core of your being, and defines your humanity. Proponents cannot emphasize this enough, as seen by how easily they accept that suicide is an expected and reasonable response to being “misgendered” too often, or too thoroughly. You cannot even think of cultivating indifference, or a personality or interests or goals which matter more than your being a man or woman or neither or both.

If one believes one’s gender and associated reproductive function to be one’s defining characteristic qua person, then pronouns map to the core of one’s identity (where identity refers to the coherent thing-that-is-I, not a mere self-conception). But even this is insufficient to motivate the conclusion that “misgendering” is an attack on one’s identity, a sort of metaphysical and not just metaphorical violence. To take that extra step requires the belief that gender is normative. Being male or female must say something about one’s worth qua person. Otherwise, to “misgender” would be no more troublesome than to wrongly describe someone’s hair color, height, age, or sports fandom. If one believes that being male or female entails something negative, then of course one will resist that label. The entire edifice rests on sexism, which believers and casual allies (at the very least) tacitly support by endorsing the conclusions that follow therefrom.

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