Word missing

What is the first thing you want to know if someone has a baby? Boy or girl, right? Can you tell me why?

How do you address a stranger on the street? By their gender. Ever did it wrong? How did you feel?

The only alternative for he or she is it. There is no universal way to mention or address someone without using the sex. If you know any culture where that’s possible, please, enlighten me. Even our names, carried as the definition of ourselves, are often sex-specific. Whether you are a boy or a girl at birth has enormous implications even at the very instant, while the differences only become relevant years later. Our gender precedes us! We are conditioned to the bone.

Imagine the impact on our mind. As soon as we familiarize with conceptual thought, we have to get used to the fact that we are undeniably different than half of the people in our lives. Our belief in this split goes deep: at some point, all of us have to prove that we are the man or the woman that we are. For status and satisfaction.

I’m not calling men and women equal, I’m merely wondering how deep this division goes. Every time I interact with an unknown, I am reminded about my sex. What if there was a neutral way to address a person? On the street, in a letter, on the phone? What if addressing people neutrally was mainstream? In a world with asexual words, would a boy still be a boy, and a girl a girl?

The division between men and women is not as fundamental as we are making it seem. While I leave the assessment of the severeness of this global psychosis up to you, I note that I am not the only one who would feel for solving the misconception. The abbreviation Mrx. has been brought up. Nobody knows how to pronounce it, let alone if it is legit to use, but it exists. Gender-neutral language is being developed as a set of ways to avoid the box. Gender-role transcendence, gay marriage and androgyny more popular than ever. The movement is as fragile as it’s young, but it gives a hint.

I think we need that word.

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6 thoughts on “Word missing”

  1. hey, ik heb gehoord dat gender-neutral nogal hip is in Zweden, geloof ik. Daar bestaan scholen die niet aan jongens-meisjes doen. Of tenminste niet totdat het kind zelf heeft aangegeven wat het is. Ook een behoorlijke mind-fuck als je het mij vraagt; iedereen om je heen heeft een identiteit die heel sterk met sekse verbonden is (papa, mama, grote broer, tante rienie) alleen jij bent een niksje. Volgens mij is er niks op tegen dat meisjes meisjes zijn en jongens jongens.

    1. Denk ik ook niet. Maar moeten we er echt altijd aan herinnerd worden? Ik vind het op zijn minst vreemd dat je mensen niet neutraal kunt aanspreken. Wel eens hé persoon geprobeerd? Of hé mens! Niemand reageert.
      Wel een interessant voorbeeld trouwens van die Zweden. Misschien dat het vreemde gevolgen heeft in de culturele context, maar als iedereen het zo zou doen?

      1. I just learned that indeed, in Sweden people just use “Hey you!” on the street or in a letter. Even when official.

        The box of gender is optionally used there. Perhaps better circumstances for such a school?

  2. hey, I am Hungarian, which is an amazingly unique language, I guess I do not have to stress that. In Hungarian we have gender neutral addressing for the third person. We do not have “he” or “she” in our language, we have a word for people as “it”, and we have a word for the objects “it”. If you want to specify gender you just say girl, boy, lady, man…bla bla…So any questions ? Do we have a very different culture in gender questions ? …no…(Hungarian basic grammar is proven not to have changed since about 800 years. We adopted new words and made new ones of course as all the revolutions of society came along in history, but I don´t know of this part being influenced. So having such gender neutral addressing did not make this society different)

    ..Or am I getting you wrong, and you actually want to take away ALL words that indicate sex ?

    1. Hi Agi,

      Nice to meet you! Interesting point about this third person in Hungarian. How does it work when you want to address a person on the street or in a letter?

      Gilles

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