Photo by Tim Mossholder on

The convergence of gender and politics has been an enduring fixture in public discourse, pre-dating (the women’s suffrage movement). the modern feminist movement. The politics of gender are more opaque than merely debating the gender wage gap. Since the mainstream acceptance of transgender people, the bifurcated distinction between males and females has become murky. This makes social issues related to gender much more complex. In this gust of normative creative destruction, it is possible that feminism in itself is an anachronism that clings onto an outmoded perception of gender.

One issue that has made gender politics more bewildering has been the focus on using the proper gender pronouns. Many American corporations recognize non-binary gender pronouns and encourage their employees to indicate their preferred pronouns in their email signatures. Not everyone has the time (the list is long), interest, or congenial worldview of non-binary people to learn or use the correct pronoun. However, are our social interactions (such as work) doomed to become a prisoner’s dilemma between transgender people and Conservatives? Will the grammar aficionados forever wince at referring to a single person with plural pronouns (they/them)? There is a positive-sum compromise between non-binary individuals and those predisposed to accept the binary model of gender identity; that is, use proper nouns only.

No need to remember a litany of confusing pronouns, use their first name. For example, Jim. Even if Jim looks like a sultry female model in a bikini, still refer to this individual by “Jim”. It doesn’t matter if their name was Tiffany last week, just proceed by calling them “Jim”. This individual cannot take issue with you addressing them by their preferred first name. It enables Canadian residents to circumvent the hideous assault on free speech that is Bill C-16; by not forcing people to use gender pronouns they disagree with for political or social reasons, but concurrently adhering to Canadian law. This suggestion should be considered a pragmatic compromise, not a commentary on non-binary gender identification.


9 thoughts on “The Pragmatic Solution to Gender Pronouns

  1. Also, would you say that the prevailing conservative argument on this front is that the presence of pronouns in our language is not without reason and that disposing of them would not be without consequence?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That makes sense and seems to be a reasonable position. Language after all does imply order and structure; basic categories.

      I am thinking in terms of having to use one the newer pronouns when an individual thinks it is complete BS being required to do so.

      How do we diplomatically navigate this scenario?

      Especially in Canada where it is mandated by law.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, so let me clear this up :

    (1). There are those who prefer (insist[?]) to be referred to by pronouns that exist outside the traditional – but still dominant – binary gender framework.

    (2). There are those who, for various reasons – to say nothing about their motivations – refuse to adopt such pronouns when asked or required (as in Canada).

    Reasons have included :

    – the long-term dangers of having compelled speech laws

    – an increase in the cost of social processes, since learning more pronouns takes more time

    – all pronouns outside of the traditional binary gender framework are essentially gobbledygook

    (3). At this point your proposal to discard pronouns enters the scene. It seems practical and straightforward. But will it be welcomed?

    The pessimistic side of me is concerned that too much has already been invested in this fuss for it to end so smoothly.

    Liked by 1 person

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