Missing The Forest For The Gender Trees

31 July 2022

The gender thing is getting a bit ouf of hand.

Pronouns are being wrongly conflated with identity. This is an Anglo-centric, narrow-minded, idea of identity.

In French, posessive pronouns take the gender of the noun, not of the thing that owns it. For example, “chien” is a masculine noun. You use “son” for masculine, and “sa” for feminine nouns. “I like her dog”: “j’aime son chien”.

Perhaps surprisingly, “beard” is a feminine noun! “I like his beard”: “j’aime sa barbe”.

“table” in French is feminine. “I like her table!”: “j’aime sa table!” But in Spanish, it is masculine. “I like her table!”: “┬íMe gusta su mesa!”

In Indonesian (Bahasa), there is no he or she. It’s all “dia”. “dia suka anjing”: she likes dogs. “dia suka kucing”: he likes cats.

At my workplace in the Netherlands, there were no bathrooms for “males” or “females”. We all walked through the same door and washed our hands in the same sinks. The idea of having three bathrooms, say, “male”, “female”, “other” therefore feels clumsy.

Relying on a name for identity is probably no good either. Alex is an oft-cited gender-neutral name. It could be short for Alexander or Alexandra. Both those names have roots in Ancient Greece, not in one’s own unique life story.

We’re missing the forest for the trees. Pronouns, names or which bathrooms someone goes to have never been a good way to identify anyone. What about curly hair, a weird laugh, or hopes and dreams?