Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Neopronouns: What are they good for? Welcome to my TED talk...

 1. What are your pronouns? (If you don't mind sharing them)

He is fine for me, personally.

But personally, I don't believe in pronoun usage for gender identification as it creates a binary system where it pits the Personal Identity of the individual against imagined Other Identity of the external world by creating external boundaries that make it more difficult to traverse in one's own journey of growth and personal enlightenment.

Logically, you can't say I prefer to be called an apple and not orange, thereby place yourself in opposition to another term, and still be considered non-binary. You've basically locked yourself into a binary box by adhering to an 'either this or that' naming system (a language game that would roil even Wittgenstein -- I say somewhat facetiously).

The semantic game being: If you're not one thing -- you're something else. An 'either or' proposition which I think is setting up a false proposition -- in terms of the semantics being used (of course, the semiotics of alternate pronoun construction or neopronouns, e.g. xim, xey, xer, xiers, etc. is a bit complicated and would require a masters thesis in and of itself to understand fully form the linguistic standpoint).

I think people are more complex than this. Granted, that's not everyone's sentiment, which is why I understand the instinct to want to name and classify people as something rather than nother (or anything).

I feel, though, that in terms of identity, we're all Schrodinger's cat. We're this, that, and the other thing. We are nothing and everything all at once. So, we can be anything we wish (at least with respect to the semantic game of naming things).

We're never just one thing. And trying to affix one all-encompassing term to ourselves to help express our truer inner-natures actually has the opposite effect by limiting expression and confining it on a binary naming system of either-or terms.

If you adhere to such naming structures, you limit your options of expression (a semantic consequence of such a naming system), whether you're "non-binary" or "basic-binary". The problem being that one's Personal Identity and expression become dependent on the language of the Other in order to be processed and codified into society as a whole.

That is a side-effect of the semantic game of naming things, I'm afraid. It doesn't speak to any gender bias or phobia per se but that people may not have other ways of expressing the non-binary identities of people without, in turn, comparing and contrasting it to the binary lexicon as traditionally understood.

As such, a consequence of which is that people are defining themselves according to what they want to be called in opposition to what society wants to call them. This conflict also is a binary construct of an 'either-or" mentality. It's shaking your fist and saying "I'm not what society has defined me as -- I'm something else," all the while playing by the same outmoded rules of the semantic game.

And although I understand the urge to want to express oneself as the way they see themselves -- that's part of identity, after all -- but to do it in this way, by staking out a pronoun and affixing it to your identity, also seems to fall back into the trap of being able to define only themselves in terms of opposition to what they're trying to break away from or distinguish themselves from.

I don't think allowing others to define you or the language you use should be codified into your own identity. I don't think that's healthy. Especially if the goal is acceptance. I think acceptance can only be had by not generating expectations. If we don't expect you to be anything, in particular, you could potentially be anything. Schrodinger's cat analogy is apt for this reason (the cat is both dead and alive simultaneously but only takes its true form once you accept that form as it appears to you with no prior judgments -- because you simply don't know until it manifests itself -- I think Person Identity is likewise).

This then gets into the theory of language, semantics, linguistics, etc. and that's perhaps a discussion for another time.

I understand, though, that in terms of expression it is important for LGBTQ folks it's important for their coming out or transition periods -- to be able to restructure their identities and have something to define them by -- so I won't begrudge anyone preferring pronouns and will respectfully call people whatever they want to be called -- but, personally, I think it's at its core an antithetical practice that hurts people more than it helps.

The problem is, people haven't read their Wittgenstein and so will debate endlessly the need to properly "identify" and "classify" and "name" things. It's all just semantic games. The problem is when these semantic games are used in harmful ways or to tear people down. I understand the urge to want to expand pronoun usage to give people more options so that future laws written won't be so limiting because of their binary favoritism in the language they use -- thereby providing more avenues and spaces for trans and LGBTQ folk to exist in. I understand why people would want to promote pronoun usage for these reasons. Society, as a whole, seems to only take the time to understand something when it fits within their preferred lexicon. Learning a foreign language is too taxing.

I think both sides are wrong for this reason. We have to learn the foreign language if we're ever going to overcome the semantic problem at all.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

I should note that these issues become doubly complex when you're talking about the written form of language vs. the spoken.

It seems that the grammar of our language relies heavily on the nominative nature of pronouns. That's something that would need to be addressed in terms of the language game since the naming of things is tied directly to our very construction of the definitions of things. Linguistic consequences ensue when you change the very nature of pronoun usage.

I was speaking more generally, however, in terms of how we use pronouns in everyday life and with respect to how we view, process, and construct our identities.

Again, this is just my opinion. It's not written in stone that I'll be right on this issue. But I think I'm righter than most because I understand how words work on a level most people never think about. Even reading all this will put some people off -- as they will say "I'm overthinking things" and they'll go back to living simple and happy, yet perhaps unthoughtful lives.

My thoughts are pretty busy so these issues bounce around my mind all the time until I properly have time to analyze and process them.

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Advocatus Atheist

Advocatus Atheist