I’m starting to see this more and more. People introducing their pronouns on their social media profiles and email signatures. All this relates to those who consider themselves non-binary, or who may be transitioning/have transitioned, and who want to make sure that others do not misgender them.
They used to be called PGPs or preferred gender pronouns, but now the language has shifted. Your pronouns mean that there is a sense of obligation towards using them, and indeed deliberate misgendering has acquired – like deadnaming – the status of hate speech.
So were I non-binary, I might write Max Frances (they/their) or even Max Frances (she/her) if my gender now differed from how it might ordinarily be perceived.
Neither in fact applies to me, but it all seems fair enough. People self-identify and out of respect for anybody, I would be pleased to adopt the correct terminology. It also seems sensible to signpost anything that might otherwise not appear obvious and thereby avert any awkwardness. There is of course an alternative narrative that nobody has the right to determine how you see them. You can see how it might get fraught on occasions, but I’m ambivalent on it.
For non-binary folk, ‘they‘ is often used though this is not welcomed by prescriptive grammarians as this takes a plural form. Unfortunately, ‘they’ combined with the third-person singular would jar, and the use of ‘it’ would be unacceptably dehumanising. In popular usage, ‘they‘ has become an accepted pronoun most commonly used for describing any person whose gender is not known or irrelevant.
There are furthermore numerous other non-standard terms, for example, Zie, Sie, Ey, Ve, Tey, E (he/she/they) that correspond to Zim, Sie, Em, Ver, Ter, Em (him/her/them) and Zir, Hir, Eir, Vis, Tem, Eir (his/her/their) and these only scratch the surface. The problem with these is that they are made-up. I’m not sure I would know how to use them even if I tried and they seem to be rather niche rather than mainstream.
However – and seemingly inexplicably – men who have always identified as men and who unmistakably present as men are adding (he/him) after their names on profiles and email signatures, or making a confirmatory point that their pronouns are he/him. They are popping up all over the shop. Women also under the same context are flagging their she/her pronouns.
Of course, this could be an example of waggish mockery by guerrillas of the cultural resistance, but in the majority of cases, it’s fake-woke cockwomble chicanery. As we now know only too well, any changes normative behaviours will attract bandwagon-leapers in droves. They just cannot help themselves.
In 2015, you may recall the then Labour leader introducing himself at a conference with ‘My name is Jeremy Corbyn and my pronouns are he/him’. At the time, I wondered how much Sodium Pentothal the campaign team had to spritz into him in order to lower his inhibitions to the point that it seemed even remotely rational. I’m guessing a near-lethal level.
Many adopters of this preposterous pose are self-styled ‘gender allies’ who are demonstrating – you’ve guessed it – solidarity with the minority because most people have never been questioned about their gender identity. They see it as a simple way to show that they care about and respect the people who are in that minority who do have to explain themselves. Furthermore – wait for it – it is an acknowledgment of your privilege.
The mind boggles. Pure, unadulterated, witless, virtue-signalling claptrap.
Ersatz credentials at their most obtuse and yet again, an approach that undermine the very cause of which it purports to be an ally. Such is the risible nature of its appropriation by the culture charlatans that the ensuing absurdity tarnishes the principal cause of establishing a third way from cultural norms
For the super-woke, it’s all about them.
With this and other issues, the facile hijacking of language allows these jokers to slot themselves into factions. But there is no shared ideological commitment. People pretend that they know about things of which they are manifestly ignorant. The pronoun gig is a classic example of this with people declaring pronouns for absolutely no performative objective other than it makes them look righteous and hip.
Similarly, people pretend to not know about other things of which they were wholly aware until the moment a shitstorm breaks. Think about the death of George Floyd when all of a sudden, the population ‘discovered’ racism and decided to campaign against it
It is a form of groupthink that will kill progress for several reasons. Campaigning becomes a superficial performance with little substance, so very little is achieved. The absurdities that mindless slacktivism generates serve to discredit core messages, and a tendency to weaponise minority characteristics against the norm in order to create guilt hardens resistance and creates opposition.
So, all those hip wannabes need to ditch the absurd profile references to their pronouns – that is the domain for those who have a performative reason for including them. The fakers just need to tone it down and help to shape a new world by respectfully dealing with real issues when they encounter them. That’s called creating positive cultures, and it’s done through actions that change lived experiences for the better, not through vacuous, virtue-signalling twaddle.