Please Respect My Pronouns
It’s very interesting to me that there are people out there who actually attempt to control the pronouns other people use to describe them.
If you think about it however, the pronouns I use to depict you are not your pronouns at all, they’re mine.
As the speaker, the communicator, and therefore the creator of the story in this instance (and the story of my life), the words I use to identify you, are for me. I speak for the purpose of bringing the reality that I exist in into focus, and to convey a picture of the world as I see it—as well as providing information so that others may respond to my articulation in a way that brings forth something new (an agreement, an understanding, or, granted, at times, I’ll admit, a conflict). We speak in order to clarify and thus create, our existence.
Just as when someone is else is speaking about me in a descriptive way, they are the creators of the script, and they get to decide what I am, for the purpose of their communication.
I use pronouns as a way of describing material reality—the material reality that I have constructed from within my consciousness.
On the plane of existence of the material reality within which I occur for myself—which I have architected through my words— I am a woman, and I use the pronouns she/hers to describe women, and he/his to describe men.
I use they/them to describe a group of individuals of mixed sex, or a sex that is unknown to me prior to witnessing said group (because of course, I have the capacity that all ensouled embodied human beings share, to immediately decipher the sex of a person, even at a distance. As anyone reading this is aware—because you came from sex— the capacity to discern sex is one of the foremost primal instincts, so ingrained in our being that most of us don’t recognize that upon entering a room, sex is the very first piece of information we glean, instantly.)
If someone else were to describe me as “he”, it’s no skin off my nose. I couldn’t care less. Why would I? I’m not even remotely insecure about the fact that I’m a woman.
If that other person was attempting to describe me for the purposes of alerting a third party to my presence, say, in the case of wanting to identify me from across the road so that said third party could purchase my used copy of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and person one said to the used book enthusiast (in reference to me), “Look at him go! He’s the man over there, walking with an air of elegant yet purposeful authority,” the speaker might find their communication ineffective, because it’s quite possible that book the buyer would be confused. And that would be a loss for both the Whitman aficionado, and her friend, the overly committed gender non-conformist. (Note: I would never sell my copy of Leaves of Grass—this is just to illustrate my point).
If I were to overhear this exchange, I could, of course, take the opportunity to feel deeply offended by being described as “he”, and I could even attribute mal-intent to such an utterance.
Frankly, that would be my loss. I mean, it would be my gain in my narrow avoidance of imprudently selling a decent, if not first, edition of Leaves of Grass, but my outrage would represent a loss of energy at the very least, rooted in an evident feeling of delicacy and precariousness about who I am.
And that would be unfortunate.
I can only imagine how challenging it would be to Be a state whereby one’s sense of self is entirely at the effect of other’s words.
I truly pity those who are so deeply insecure. Not only does it constitute an enormous effort to be so attached to others’ perceptions of oneself, but it betrays quite a profound cynicism, in regards to others’ motives.
The notion that it’s disrespectful (not to mention “aggressive” or “hateful”) to “mis-gender” someone (consciously or not) is curious. Some people might find it quite disrespectful (or “aggressive”) to have their conceptualization of reality corrected, policed, or mandated, however delusional (or cruel) you happen to think they might be.
To be fair, I think most people can relate on some level, to the desire to have others only speak the exact words we want them to.
If I didn’t enjoy arguing so much, I can imagine feeling quite satisfied with myself if I had the power to make everyone around me speak only the words of my choosing.
It has never actually occurred to me to assert my “preferred pronouns,” but gosh, if only I could. The pain I endure when I’m subjected (constantly) to the mis-use of “I” in a sentence that calls for an object pronoun is an anguish only a few can appreciate.
Alas, I have noted that most people aren’t interested in accommodating my strong preference that others write and speak Standard English.
Similarly, we might make a comparison between the demand that other people acquiesce to the imposition of only certain pronouns with a person trying to dictate “their” adjectives.
It’s probably fairly obvious though, that attempting to decree to you the requirement that you describe me as, for example, “stunning and brave” if the way I am occurring for you in the reality of your consciousness is actually “smug and unbearable” is to be at war with myself, which would be ineffectual and weird.
But when it comes down to it, who isn’t?
P.S: Please click here to report any and all notifications regarding typos or errors in syntax in this essay. Except if this is Sophia—Sophia if you’re reading this and you notice anything amiss, text me immediately.
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