Author Topic: Gender in society.  (Read 9652 times)

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Offline Shim

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #50 on: January 26, 2011, 12:26:02 am »
I speak(singular masculine) Hebrew, where there are different nouns(plural feminine) to describe things in singular masculine and feminine and plural masculine and feminine. In my(singular male) eyes(plural male), it's really just more words(plural feminine) and grammar rules to memorize. If you(plural masculine) want to imply that you(singular masculine) don't know(singular masculine) who all is going(singular masculine) to go(plural masculine) to a party(singular feminine), you(singular masculine) just say(singular masculine) the words(plural feminine) in masculine, not feminine. It's just how it works, and I see no problem with that.

Offline Narei Mooncatt

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #51 on: January 26, 2011, 12:41:35 am »
The problem is that depending on the context, singular "they" can be confusing since it could also imply plurality. For example: "Jim is coming by later. They should get here around noon." could lead someone to think that Jim is bringing others.

I do get your point on this, but you may want to try another context for example. We've already established that we're talking about a guy by using his name, "Jim". So using "he" in the second sentence would be the most appropriate. More so than "they" anyway. Even if Jim happens to be another gender for some reason, it's safe to assume that the people you're addressing in the example already know this person, so whatever gender identifying word that fits is acceptable.
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Offline Yip

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #52 on: January 26, 2011, 01:43:57 am »
"They," of course,  being the very small minority that controls the language and what is taught in public schools (the people who teach our children from the age of 5) who typically happen to have a strong liberal slant?
Umm... No. And I have no idea where you are getting that.  I meant "they" as in society as a whole. Society as a whole, working towards greater equality for all, should agree on principle but in that also the language should shift over time to match.

I do get your point on this, but you may want to try another context for example. We've already established that we're talking about a guy by using his name, "Jim". So using "he" in the second sentence would be the most appropriate. More so than "they" anyway. Even if Jim happens to be another gender for some reason, it's safe to assume that the people you're addressing in the example already know this person, so whatever gender identifying word that fits is acceptable.
I highly considered using a more ambiguous name for that reason. But if we know Jim, we also know Jim's hair color, approximate height, and a million other facts about Jim. Why this need to include this one aspect in particular? And what if Jim does not identify as male or female?

However, looking at an example in a different context might not be a bad idea. "Someone is coming by later. They should get here around noon."  Notice how here the confusion from the singular 'they' is a lot less? This is the point I was addressing, that the singular 'they' is more likely to cause confusion when used for a specific individual. And this is something that singular 'they' would have to shift away from in order to become a good all purpose gender neutral pronoun.


Offline Alsek

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #53 on: January 26, 2011, 03:08:07 am »
Umm... No. And I have no idea where you are getting that.  I meant "they" as in society as a whole. Society as a whole, working towards greater equality for all, should agree on principle but in that also the language should shift over time to match.

Language will change on it's own without any help.  There's a reason we went from speaking old English which had familiar and formal pronouns (like German and most other languages still have today) to using only one of the two.  Our language slowly changes over time to match the culture.  No one made the choice to do away with familiar pronouns (such as Thee and thou) but we did.

So we have already gone from speaking to those in higher authority than us in the, "you," (formal) form and those we know as friends in the, "thou," (familiar) form to simply using one universality (likely because we are more prone to see everyone as equals to ourselves than when we spoke old English).

Why would this need any pushing along if society wants it to go that direction?  Strictly speaking from that point of view, it wouldn't seem that we're there yet.

Language changes over time on it's own to match the culture.
Culture should not ever change to match a language.

Offline Yip

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #54 on: January 26, 2011, 04:10:18 am »
@Alsek: So are you saying it was wrong for the feminist movement to raise consciousness over words like policeman and milkman? This is the same thing, only admittedly has a milder effect for most people. (This arguably isn't milder for those few that find themselves unable to fit the labels of male or female.)

Offline Avan

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #55 on: January 26, 2011, 10:55:01 am »
You

He
She
Him
Her

Take your pick. If none of those words work, then what the hell is society supposed to use?

*hands Avan and Vararam a dictionary*

The point was that those words don't have gender-irrelevant analogs that currently exist in the english language.
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Offline Avan

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #56 on: January 26, 2011, 11:00:21 am »
It's just how it works, and I see no problem with that.
Aside from the flaw in the convultedness of langauges that do this (arbitrary grammar rules = no fun! D:), simply saying that "its a feature, not a flaw", because its how something works... is not a very good practice. By taking everything at face value, as fully functioning, if your operating system crashed because of some inherent instability, you would simply assume that to be fully functional, and completely overlook the serious hole in its stability. Granted, this is something of significantly less significance to a mainstream operating system having a critical stability flaw, but the philosophy of ignoring shortcomings is not a very constructive one.
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Offline redyoshi49q

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #57 on: January 26, 2011, 12:50:13 pm »
Language changes over time on it's own to match the culture.
Culture should not ever change to match a language.

Language does change with culture, but culture also changes with language since language, to some extent, affects the way people think.  It'd be more accurate to say that culture and language evolve together than to say that only one affects the other.


On a mildly similar note, the "pronoun confusion" that was mentioned before is the reason why I personally would enjoy having pronouns in English that functioned like pointers in software code.  Essentially, one would be able to explicitly define the corresponding subject for each pronoun used, and a higher number of subjects (say four to six, for example) could be discussed simultaneously with pronouns without confusion as to which pronoun corresponded to which subject.  Of course, this would be even less likely to happen; most people don't think in the same way that programmers do, and thus would be likely to find such mechanics more confusing.
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Offline Yip

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #58 on: January 26, 2011, 02:22:42 pm »
On a mildly similar note, the "pronoun confusion" that was mentioned before is the reason why I personally would enjoy having pronouns in English that functioned like pointers in software code.  Essentially, one would be able to explicitly define the corresponding subject for each pronoun used, and a higher number of subjects (say four to six, for example) could be discussed simultaneously with pronouns without confusion as to which pronoun corresponded to which subject.  Of course, this would be even less likely to happen; most people don't think in the same way that programmers do, and thus would be likely to find such mechanics more confusing.
I've thought of that myself and I wouldn't mind seeing such a system. We can almost approximate this, but I've only ever seen it used in making examples with non-specific individuals. That is, using Person A, Person B, and so forth which can later be called simply 'A' and 'B'. For something like that to work with specific individuals, you'd need some kind of defining mechanism. The easiest would be sentence which specifically declare these connections. But I have a hard time seeing something like that getting adopted into common use, and it would also make such defining sentences very important not to miss.  Especially if the subject changes and you redefine something and that gets missed.

I could imagine a system where there are a set of pronouns which you could tack any letter on to it, and that letter would be the identifying property. For example, "Jim and Bob will be coming later. Jey said bey'll bring beir guitar, and jey'll bring jeir drums."  Of course, I don't expect something like that to actually catch on. I'm mentioning it mostly because I find the idea interesting.

How exactly should people be identified? As androgynous?  :o
I skipped over this before, but I think it deserve mentioning. Kobuk, what would be so bad about that?

As I've asked several times which no one seems willing to answer: Why is it so important to specify with pronouns whether the subject is male or female?  It seems to me that the reason for it is entirely so that society can treat men and women differently. It's a hold over from when society viewed men as more important than women. It's like how some languages have pronouns that specifically identify if someone is higher class or lower class. But if you actually want to treat people as equals, there is no reason for these kind of divisions to be built in to the pronouns. Instead 'male' and 'female' should be treated as simply aspects of the individual that can be specified on an as needed basis, the same as any other aspect of the individual. Why would this be such a bad thing? Is there some other purpose for it that I'm overlooking?

I can understand the argument about it not being worth the effort to change it. And although I'd like to see language shift away from gendered pronouns, I don't expect the use of gendered pronouns to go away any time soon. Even so, it would be still nice to have better gender neutral alternatives.

... Strictly speaking from that point of view, it wouldn't seem that we're there yet.
You may be right about that. After all, there are still a lot of people that think men and women should be treated differently, and there are still a lot of people that are anti-LGBT.  However, I'm not proposing we ditch the current system. At least not all at once. Like I said, I expect any such change to be a slow process.

Offline Alsek

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #59 on: January 26, 2011, 02:39:47 pm »
... Strictly speaking from that point of view, it wouldn't seem that we're there yet.
You may be right about that. After all, there are still a lot of people that think men and women should be treated differently, and there are still a lot of people that are anti-LGBT.  However, I'm not proposing we ditch the current system. At least not all at once. Like I said, I expect any such change to be a slow process.
Taking this just slightly out of context there...  Remember that the,  "point of view," i just referenced was that language evolves on it's own without help naturally when society has a specific perception or opinion ingrained in their minds as an absolute truth... that's not the same as general acceptance...  it's a stage much further along.

But when did i say anything about treating anyone differently?

Noticing differences  =/=  treating people differently.

Offline Yip

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #60 on: January 26, 2011, 02:50:38 pm »
But when did i say anything about treating anyone differently?
I didn't say you did. I was agreeing with your statement that we might not be there yet, and providing my reason for agreeing with you.

Offline Yip

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #61 on: January 31, 2011, 04:56:04 am »
I was just thinking about this earlier today. Specifically, use of singular 'they'. Consider the following:

"Someone is here. They are tall."

Perfectly fine right? No, actually. If 'they' is singular, than grammatically it should be "They is tall". But apparently when we break the plurality of 'they', we also break the plurality of "are" despite there being a singular equivalent. Which is to say, 'are' and 'is' only differ in that one is singular and the other is plural. 'They' on the other hand, has no such equivalent. (hence the usage of a singular version of it in the first place.)

By the way, I think "They is tall" sounds like horribly bad english, and I'm not asking people to say it that way. I'm merely pointing out an oddity of using a singular form of 'they'.

Offline Foxpup

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #62 on: January 31, 2011, 05:19:41 pm »
Great. First you complain about gendered pronouns, and now you are is complaining about plurality not making sense? :D
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Offline Yip

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #63 on: February 02, 2011, 03:34:56 pm »
Great. First you complain about gendered pronouns, and now you are is complaining about plurality not making sense? :D
:D
I didn't notice the is/are thing you did there to start with. I was mentioning the "they is" thing as another point in how there are no good gender neutral alternatives. But that does bring up a good point. 'You' is paired with 'are' even though it's singular. So maybe using singular 'they' paired with 'are' is fine as well. It does make me lean more towards the idea that singular 'they' is the pronoun most likely to become general purpose. (A bit off topic, but why are you anyway? Why not is you? Our language is full of stupid exceptions.  :P)

Offline Narei Mooncatt

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #64 on: February 02, 2011, 03:54:42 pm »
Suddenly ebonics is starting to make more sense. LOL
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Offline Feather_Claw

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #65 on: March 05, 2011, 06:43:11 pm »
Firstly, I think it would be of great help for antiquated terms of address that are gender-restrictive like mr. ms. and mrs. (really---do you *need* to know anything minus my name when addressing me?) to be abolished in forms, letters, etc.

I also think it is about time for there to be a third gender-neutral option in the english language (and other languages without it).

Personally, I'm genderqueer, sometimes I use female pronouns (and male, and gender-neutral lol) and often I will get 'she' because of my biology but I am quick to tell people it makes me extremely uncomfortable when I'm included with 'the girls' or made to speak about myself as 'a woman'...I don't feel like a man or a woman, and although most non-trans etc people struggle with that I tell them simply to call me Sam (or Sammael---but sometimes they have problems pronouncing my name lol).
Part of the resistance against using non-traditional pronouns etc is that for cisgender people it is outside of their understanding they simply *cannot* understand how one could not feel like their biology. Like as a sexual person trying to imagine being asexual. 
I get that reaction alot and even have one well-meaning female friend who is determined to get me used to female pronouns and my birth name simply because in her eyes 'you're female, deal with it'. She just can't understand.
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Offline DreamerHusky

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Re: Gender in society.
« Reply #66 on: April 11, 2011, 09:51:55 pm »
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« Last Edit: December 22, 2014, 02:19:13 pm by DreamerHusky »