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Thread: Sam Smith on his gender fluidity: ‘I feel just as much woman as I am man’

  1. #46
    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    Yeah the “x” really doesn’t work with Spanish pronunciation, it’s just clunky and weird.
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    Gold Member lucianodel's Avatar
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    So he wants people to use a plural to refer to him, but I think if he's not a he nor a she, then it should be called IT?
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    Well no because it is for things or animals we have no relation with, not people. it is like “das”/“es” in German, you wouldn’t ever use it for people.
    Last edited by sputnik; September 17th, 2019 at 03:11 PM.
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    The use of it is dehumanizing. Sam is still human regardless of what they is doing to grammar.
    Last edited by twitchy2.0; September 17th, 2019 at 07:56 PM. Reason: this is tough
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    Elite Member Ravenna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tulip View Post
    The pronoun thing bugs me because I'm a stickler for grammar and I want to know who I'm talking about. When I have seen they, it always takes me awhile to realize there aren't two people. On FB, someone was talking about a very young kitten that you couldn't tell the gender yet and was using "they" I was so confused because I knew there was only one kitten, but then I thought maybe there were two. Back in the day, we'd say "it" for a kitten. I doubt the kitten cares what pronoun you use for him/her. (I'm not suggesting it for a person! -- just pointing out that they is being used beyond people by some.)

    I'm too old and pronouns are too ingrained in me for this. I understand wanting a pronoun that truly reflects who you are, but they is so confusing to this old woman.
    Yes, it's one of my pet peeves related to grammar. I would rather resort to using Sam's name an obnoxious number of times. Where's Sam? I haven't seen Sam all day. Has anyone seen Sam pass through here? Maybe I should call Sam and find out where Sam is.
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  6. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by twitchy2.0 View Post
    The use of it is dehumanizing. Sam is still human regardless of what he's doing to grammar.
    still human but i still don't like their music. so it is unlikely i will ever refer to them outside of this thread.

    *shrugs*
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  7. #52
    Elite Member NickiDrea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    I don’t really get the needto transform language to make it more inclusive, but I’m not transgender so I get that it’s not about what I want, and if someone wants me to use a certain pronoun, I will. And it’s a small effort. I understand the initial reaction to push back, and thinking you’re too old to get used to it but we learn new stuff all the time even as we get older and it can be done. If my 68 year old mom can learn to use a smartphone or Facebook even though she didn’t grow up with them, she can make the effort to use people’s chosen pronouns. She had no idea what transgender was but now, she gets that it’s a thing, that gender isn’t binary but a spectrum and that transgender and non-binary people are not hurting anyone, they’re just asking to be recognised for who they are. She saw what her two gay brothers went though when LGBT rights weren’t even a thing and not saying there’s no homophobia anymore but it’s nothing like it used to be and people adapted to gay people no longer living in the closet and trying to pretend they were straight, we no longer conceived of the family as only being a hetero couple and their kids. This isn’t all that different.

    the one thing I cannot fucking stand though is Latinx. Stop trying to make Latinx happen! It’s not only stupid looking and sounding, it doesn't make sense in Spanish which is what Latino and Latina are, and I hate the idea of Americans (even if they’re of Latin origin) imposing a word from their English speaking perspective without any thought as to whether it works in Spanish or not. There’s something vaguely colonialist about it that rubs me the wrong way. Let Spanish speakers in Spanish speaking countries have their own debate about gender neutral pronouns, which is a discussion that is taking place in Spain and Latin America. There’s a push to use “-e” as the neutral suffix, and “elle” as the pronoun.
    I’m half Latina.

    I absolutely hate the term Latinx. It’s obnoxious.
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    Elite Member Sleuth's Avatar
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    I’ll probably just say Sam since “their”, “they” or “them” implies more than one person. It confuses the context of a sentence and changes the meaning entirely.

    I guess my thoughts are you are born as a male (with a penis) why can’t you still be addressed as a “he” and still enjoy all the things that you have stereotyped as being female without slapping a label on it? Does Sam believe that wearing heels and makeup is what being a woman is all about? I’m sorry if I’m being rude but it feels like that actually perpetuates gender stereotypes.
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    ^^ I've often had the same thought. You feel like a woman because you like to wear make up? Well that's a social construct and has nothing to do with being a woman.

    A girl has a vagina / xx chromosome and a boy has a penis / xy chromosome. It's science and it's just a label for organization and clarity. I truly don't understand how one can be offended by it. Be whomever or whatever you want to be. Wear what you want to wear. Love who you want to love. But now we have to pretend we don't know science AND destroy grammar? I'm not feeling it.

    But I'll call you whatever you want, Sam.
    if you're so incensed that you can't fly your penis in public take it up with your state, arrange a nude protest, go and be the rosa parks of cocks or something - witchcurlgirl

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    Elite Member Sarzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sleuth View Post
    I’ll probably just say Sam since “their”, “they” or “them” implies more than one person. It confuses the context of a sentence and changes the meaning entirely.

    I guess my thoughts are you are born as a male (with a penis) why can’t you still be addressed as a “he” and still enjoy all the things that you have stereotyped as being female without slapping a label on it? Does Sam believe that wearing heels and makeup is what being a woman is all about? I’m sorry if I’m being rude but it feels like that actually perpetuates gender stereotypes.
    Exactly. Men should be able to wear make-up and do things that are considered feminine without feeling they shouldn't be called he/a man anymore. Unless obviously they want to transition, but that's different.

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    Elite Member Sylkyn's Avatar
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    No idea who they are, so for that I'm grateful. They're getting on my last damn nerve, though, just now seeing and reading their thread.
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  12. #57
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    Regarding gender nonbinary identification, from what I understand, during fetal development the genitals and brain cells form their sex differences at different times, which can lead to things like having the body of a male and the brain of a female. In other words, gender does not necessarily depend on sex, and while they are often correlated, they can be different based on genetic and environmental (hormones in the womb) factors. Most intersexed people don't identify as nonbinary. They usually identify as male or female, and there is a large movement to prevent doctors and parents from picking a gender for intersex children, because many got it wrong in the past. So, it's clear from the case of intersex people that genitals can be elements of both and the brain binary. Contrariwise, if the genitals can be intersexed, why can't the brain? I don't think that Sam consider themselves nonbinary because they like to use makeup, but rather because they don't identify as male or female; they identify as both. We don't get it, because our brains are binary.




    Regarding the use of "they" in the singular, it's not really that new. From my experience it's been common practice to use "they" when one doesn't know the gender of the person they're speaking of. In adapting to the use of "they" for people in my life, I've found it helps to think of it as vague rather than plural. Anyway, here's an article from a really fun linguist about the use of "they"



    Call Them What They Wants

    As more English speakers adopt the singular they and reject the gender binary, resisters will have to accept that language changes over time.
    SEP 4, 2018



    John McWhorter
    Contributing editor at The Atlantic and professor at Columbia University




    A slab found in Greece, dated to the Roman period, is inscribed with verses from the Odyssey.AP
    It is certainly the most challenging change in language I have dealt with in my lifetime. Ever more people, rejecting the gender binary, are requesting to be referred to as they rather than as he or she. That is, we now say: Ariella isn't wearing the green one. They think it's time to wear their other one. I expect to get some new practice using they this way as school starts back up, with more students at universities such as the one where I teach requesting they.

    Yes, practice—I am trying my best to master this new way of using they despite the fact that, make no mistake, it's hard. In contrast to the deliberateness of writing, speaking casually is a largely subconscious, not to mention very rapid, act. In addition, pronouns, like conjunctions and suffixes, are a very deeply seated feature of language, generated from way down deep in our minds, linked to something as fundamental to human conception as selfhood in relation to the other and others. I've been using they in one way since the late 1960s, and was hardly expecting to have to learn a new way of using it decades later. I thought I had English pretty much under my belt.
    Some might find this an odd orientation from a linguist. After all, aren't we libertine, permissive sorts, wedded to the unheedful idea that people should be able to just let it all hang out linguistically? If so, I might be expected to harrumph that people should not be asked to use language in ways that they find unnatural.








    But all of us use certain corners of the language in distinctly unnatural ways all the time, and for reasons less coherent, in the grand view, than those justifying the new use of they. Social justice has a way of feeling, at least to some, unnatural—at least at first. That doesn't mean it isn't social justice.

    Quite a few of us, in fact, harbor a distinctly unnatural resistance to a related usage of they, which was until recently the one for which it usually made news. Tell each student they can hand in their paper at the front office. We are told that this sentence is incorrect because they can only refer to the plural. The proper user of English is to either use he to refer to both genders, to toggle self-consciously between he and she, or, in writing, to use little (and unpronounceable) monstrosities like he/she.
    Adjusting ourselves to the supposed naturalness of these backdoor fixes, we tend to miss that English speakers have been using they in the singular since English was anything we'd recognize as English. Back in Middle English, the Sir Amadace tale includes, “Each man in their degree.” The Bard has Antipholus of Syracuse in Comedy of Errors chirp, “There's not a man I meet but doth salute me / As I were their well-acquainted friend.” Thackeray has Rosalind toss off in Vanity Fair, “A person can't help their birth.” Whence the idea that all of these people were butchering the language?

    It was the schoolteacher and writer Anne Fisher whose English primer of 1745 began the notion that it's somehow bad to use they in the plural and that he stands for both men and women. Grammarians of Fisher's day tended to believe that real languages should pattern themselves after Latin and ancient Greek, in which the words for they happened not to have experienced such developments.
    But grammarians then knew less about how much language varies worldwide, and also operated under a quaint sense that the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome were inherently superior to the European ones that emerged later. The simple fact is that they in English has always operated differently from they in Latin, and trying to narrow the gap between the two makes no more sense than deciding that English's definite articles need to operate like the ones in Arabic or Hebrew.
    As such, the objection “They is plural,” as if cast in stone on a Roman edifice, doesn't go through unless Anne Fisher is granted some godly status, which few would be inclined to do despite her tart brilliance. Nevertheless, if the past is any guide, many will insist on making the effort not to use the relatively novel form of the singular they—at least in print, and maybe even in speech—despite how naturally other uses of the singular they tend to fall out of our mouths, just as they fell out of the mouths of medievals, Elizabethans, and Victorians. We are no strangers to using they in ways that require a bit of forethought and practice—so why not one more?






    But suppose you aren't one of those who insists on blocking out the singular they? You might object: “But I do speak as naturally as possible, and so why should I master this new they just because people ask me to?” My answer here is: How do you feel about saying Billy and me went to the store? Or: Tom and him like making mud pies?
    Of course, the idea that I must be used as a subject and me as an object is beaten into us so soundly from an early age that most of us barely feel like we’re working to observe this rule. But it is yet another vestige of the notion that English is supposed to operate like Latin and Greek, this time in terms of how subject and object are expressed.
    One problem is that languages differ massively in how they sort out subjects and objects, and we don’t have to go far afield to see ones that operate like English. In French, Billy and me (whoops, I) went to the store is certainly not Guillaume et je sommes allées au magasin. Rather, one uses moi, for me: Guillaume et moi sommes allées au magasin. Yet the French operate under no inferiority complex about their language. Why, then, is it wrong in English to say Billy and me went to the store?

    After all, there are plenty of ways we use me (or him, her, us, or them) as subjects all the time, with no one batting an eye. “Who broke the lamp?” someone asks. “Me,” you say guiltily—and not “I,” unless you want to sound flabbergastingly pretentious. Yet you wouldn't say “Me broke the lamp”—which suggests that English’s rules about subjects and objects are simply different from Latin's. Is it that the me is short for It was me? But why exactly do you shave off two words just in that sentence?
    And if you dig down deep into your mind thinking about when you say me in a context like this—pondering late, late at night when you’re all alone, rain spattering on the windowpanes—you’ll likely admit: You mean the me as a subject. You mean Me did it. And it leaves you no less valid a human being! It’s just that English isn't Latin. It’s more like French.
    And never mind that a sentence like I and Billy went to the store sounds like someone from another planet. If I has to be the subject, why does it sound so god-awful in a sentence like that? English’s actual rule for I and me is actually pretty simple: When the subject comes right before a verb you use I; otherwise the form is me even if it’s a subject. (One wrinkle is that you can jam, say, an adverb between the I and the verb—“I, actually, prefer peach Jello, not boring old lime.”) This is what one picks up from hearing English in use as a toddler (including people saying Me rather than I in response to being asked who did something).

    For all one might say about whether English’s actual rule is logical, the fact is that this rule must be consciously learned by all but a very few. Somehow, by about the age of 6, we all master the subtleties of how to use the versus a; what the difference is between I turn 31 tomorrow, I’m going to turn 31 tomorrow, and I’ll turn 31 tomorrow; and much, much more—but have to be bopped on the head about Billy and me went to the store.



    Yet even so, we all master it, and teach ourselves not to use I and me in the wrong ways in public contexts. And certainly, a society will have its formalities that must be attended to whether we like it or not. I observe the rule as much as possible when speaking publicly. I am not claiming that we should not teach children this rule (although I will be teaching mine how arbitrary it is). However, it’s no accident that so many people merely internalize not the rule itself, but that somehow I is more proper across the board, which yields the famous between you and I, in which the subject form is used where an object one is stipulated by our English-is-Latin rule.


    I have no hope of divesting modern Anglophone societies of the “Billy and I” rule, given how irritating many find observations such as those I’ve made above. However, most of us will agree on this: Mastering that rule requires a certain effort, self-training, a nudging of ourselves beyond what would have come out on its own (at least at an earlier stage of our lives). If we have no problem exerting the effort to observe this rule, why not exert a little more to master a new way of using they? We observe the “Billy and I” rule out of a sense of manners, poise, or even class marking. Is not being solicitous an equally compelling reason—or, some might say, a more compelling one—to learn a new manner of expression?
    Quite a few younger people, after all, are already using the new they with effortless fluency, mastering it along with the “Billy and I” rule. It might not occur to a new speaker of English, but they internalize this form in order to operate in the world as we know it—or as it is changing. I, for one, am not ready to say that the young harbor an energy and flexibility that I have become too set in my ways to match.


    “But this new usage of they is just incorrect!” some will understandably object. “Billy and I” feels correct because it's rooted in classical ideas of subject and object. Singular they, in contrast, can seem just wrong.
    However, just as words’ meanings are always changing—what Shakespeare meant by generous was “noble,” not “magnanimous”—pronouns never sit still. What kind of sense does it make that in Italian, lei means both she and the polite you? Isn’t it even more senseless that in German, sie (or Sie) means she, polite you, and they? Or what kind of sense does it make that in English, we use you in both the singular and the plural? Nothing feels more natural today, but in earlier English, thou was the second-person-singular form, and you was used only for two or more people.
    The change from then to now hardly happened overnight, and as you might imagine, there were people at the transition who were just as itchy about the new you as some are today about the new they. George Fox had it this way:
    Is he not a Novice and unmannerly, and an Ideot and a Fool, that speaks You to one, which is not to be spoken to a Singular, but to many? O Vulgar Professors and teachers, that speak Plural, when they should Singular …. Come you Priests and Professors, have you not learnt your Accidence?
    And yet, here we are. Fox’s objections look as quaint as the quill and feather he wrote with, and we seem to be doing just fine with just one you, even dismissing those seeking to tidy things up by creating new plural yous—y'all, youse, yins—as yokels. Objections to the new they will look precisely as creaky and quizzical in the future—and, I suspect, far sooner than the 350 years that separate us from Fox.





    Of late I have been in situations where I tried to use they in this new way and stumbled all over my linguistic shoelaces. But I picked myself up and brushed myself off, and I’ll be starting all over again. Over the past 10 years, as conceptions of gender have evolved in Anglophone societies, resistance has faded gradually to the old-new they, as in “Tell each student that they can.” I hope the new-new they will not require decades, or even centuries, of the same kind of bilious battle.
    If English had not changed in exactly these kinds of ways forever, we'd all be speaking the language of Beowulf. Some might wish it so, but count me out. Pronouns change, just as we do. We celebrate language change that has already happened as pageant, procession, progress. Why not celebrate it while it's happening?
    We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.





    JOHN MCWHORTER is a contributing writer at The Atlantic. He teaches linguistics at Columbia University, hosts the podcast Lexicon Valley, and is the author, most recently, of Words on the Move.





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    Elite Member lindsaywhit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sylkyn View Post
    No idea who they are, so for that I'm grateful. They're getting on my last damn nerve, though, just now seeing and reading their thread.
    See, this is my damn problem with the whole thing - I've been following this thread, but got confused, not for the first time in this thread, when I read your post because I didn't know to whom you were referring to 'they'... I was looking for who they were - maybe if you had said 'No idea who they is...'???

    Communication is the whole point of language. I generally try to be empathetic, and don't have any problem accommodating my form of address to whatever makes someone feel safe, and included, and respected, and understood. The problem is that the form of address Smith and others are asking for will not lead to caring and clarity, but to confusion. Confusion doesn't usually create safe places, it creates resentment and resistance. Can't someone come up with a brand new term? A 'Ms.' type of solution?

    Well, language evolves - gentleman and gay each have vastly different accepted meanings today than in 1819. No doubt my (hypothetical) grandchildren will snicker at Granny's (or do I want to be called Nana? Or maybe Oma?) old fashioned ways. Young whippersnappers...
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    Quote Originally Posted by lindsaywhit View Post
    See, this is my damn problem with the whole thing - I've been following this thread, but got confused, not for the first time in this thread, when I read your post because I didn't know to whom you were referring to 'they'... I was looking for who they were - maybe if you had said 'No idea who they is...'???

    Communication is the whole point of language. I generally try to be empathetic, and don't have any problem accommodating my form of address to whatever makes someone feel safe, and included, and respected, and understood. The problem is that the form of address Smith and others are asking for will not lead to caring and clarity, but to confusion. Confusion doesn't usually create safe places, it creates resentment and resistance. Can't someone come up with a brand new term? A 'Ms.' type of solution?

    Well, language evolves - gentleman and gay each have vastly different accepted meanings today than in 1819. No doubt my (hypothetical) grandchildren will snicker at Granny's (or do I want to be called Nana? Or maybe Oma?) old fashioned ways. Young whippersnappers...
    Exactly -- I don't object to having a more accurate pronoun, but "they" is confusing. I know there are a few things out there, but I wish there was some grammar board somewhere that would say "use this" when situations this come up.
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    Elite Member MsDark's Avatar
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    I'll call them what they wants, but they needs to be wearing actual heels before they start bragging about it.
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