Showing posts with label gender issues. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gender issues. Show all posts

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Gender in Language

beliefnet
 Roymond wrote:
Good point about the Hebrew.  It's worth noting that the same point essentially extends to all language; anything perceived of as personal is going to get either the masculine or feminine, because that's how we conceive of persons.  So deities end up with gender tags even though they may not be actually understood as having gender, at least not in any way we humans would understand.

...

And that applies whether God is real or not; it's a linguistic/philosophical problem.  So in actuality, the case is stronger that patriarchy or matriarchy were imposed on religion by the concepts and worldviews of the socities in question, not the other way around.

Languages differ.  Some languages do not even have a gender neutral term for any object let alone a person.  But one must understand that language is our understanding of the world and we must be aware of the more pernicious biases built into the language gender being the most important. 

One of the first things that offended me when I found out that other people believed in God was that Lord (masculine) and He/His were interchangeable with God.  I was still in the scatological humor stage at the time and gleefully referred to God as Sheheit.  Making myself unpopular in some circles, but most of my friends were at the most religious agnostics, so I didn't catch much flack.  And when I did I would always correct myself to She/he/it.  I outgrew the scatology but still refused to even think of God as He.  I invented the gender inclusive pronouns some of you have seen here Hesh and Herm very early in life, and discovered that they really helped me think about a supernatural power in a sympathetic way that was impossible with the testosterone poisoned "He."  Even trying to insert God in place of the male pronoun every time didn't work too well.  As I found out while working on the first gender neutral hymnal revision for the UUA.

By college I had learned to think of everyone as hesh rather than he or she even when it was important to tell the difference.  It was the first step to radical humanism as once I began to think of people as hesh it was hard to create differences along any lines since the major pervasive division on gender lines carried over from the patriarchal social system we inherited from God was obliterated in my mind. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Warped Echoes of Religious Patriarchy

Beliefnet
Apr 22, 2015 -- 3:48AM, Kwinters wrote:
Thanks! I am hoping to do more to highlight the link between the way religious patriarchy demeans women and the warped echoes of it in today's sexist religious institution and the proponents of religion.

I suspect a more productive tack would be to examine the warped echoes of it in the secular culture.

I grew up as a secular feminist male in a Sunday Country Club society.  Everybody went to church but nobody took it very seriously.  At the university few went to church and so few took it seriously that I had to travel to a nearby Jesuit University to find a good religious discussion.

Nevertheless the echoes of male dominance and sexual entitlement were everywhere. Even the women at the university seemed to think that the Mrs. was as important as the BA.  The way to the Mrs. was universally understood as submissiveness in everything from academics to sex. 

There were a few women on campus that would whup yer ass in anything ya tried to compete in including finding them on top in sex. But the word on campus was that they were failures as women destined to a life of loneliness and frustration.  It generally didn't work out that way as there were some men in the academic world that respected that attitude and were looking for a partner rather than a "wife" and lived happily, if not ever after, long enough to propagate their genetic line. As might be expected their kids were awesome.   

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Gender Inclusive Pronouns

Back in the mid 20th Century the feminist movement tried with some success to ban the generic use of "men" and "man" as in "All men are created equal." In current vernacular they have succeeded quite well. In some Churches led by UUs they even succeeded in removing male references to God in large part by eliminating the pronoun alltogether, resulting in some rather weird hymnody with repetitive use of God and some strangled syntax to eliminate references directly to God.

I was frequently involved in God discussions at that time and found the effort of avoiding the Pronouns for God too much effort and found the shock of using Hesh and Herm in reference to God a useful result in my discussions. Typically it generated the assertion that God was male and that the proper Pronouns were He and His. This generally derailed the discussion into a useful discussion of God's testosterone levels.

When I came to beliefnet I continued the practice and for a long time linked on the words to a discussion on the old Gender and Sexuality boards. When I began to see "hesh" and "hir" or "herm" in the popular literature without explanation, (I admit to noticing each time) I quit linking particularly on this and the UU boards as everyone could figure out what I meant without the link from context although fundamentalist Christians and language conservatives continue to protest its use in reference to God.

As a card carrying male feminist I also eliminated the gender specific pronouns from my vocabulary as a general pronoun and use "hesh" and "herm" as my pronouns of choice when the gender of the referent is not known. This is particularly useful in calling attention to gender specific terms like "Actor," Waitress," or "Chairman." Traditionalists be damned. They need their consciousness raised. If it jars their reading or hearing of the term, they still need the consicousness raising.

More recently I have been using the terms when the referent is of known gender but the gender is not relevant in context. Reference to the author of a scientific paper was beat into my head by my then wife whose papers in a male chauvinist academic profession were referred to as "HER" papers as if they were therefore less important than "his" papers. They in fact were less important than "his" papers, even though in general they were signifiicantly better. It is no accident that women in science generally publish with initials only. Those who are members of misogynic religions need to have their consciousness raised. If they are offended by having to think about gender, too bad. They need to. Particularly the sexist males. They can be sure I intended to insult them with the gender inclusive pronoun.

As for the ESL issue, some languages particularly Asian languages are non-sexist in that the pronouns are non-specific. I live with Asians and have become used to hearing "she" and "her" being used as a pronoun for anybody. I don't bother to correct them as they are on my side. I suspect Asians would have more trouble with "he" and "she" in writing and speech than they would be with "hesh" and "herm."

Other languages are inherently sexist. I was at the installation of a new department head couldn't even introduce his staff because his native language didn't have a word for a female collegue. He did all right with the men, but the female who outranked the men caused an embarrassing for all search for an appropriate honorific.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gender Definitions.

Sex and spirituality. - Beliefnet:

"In defining what constitutes gender I suspect I am an apostate to the traditional males, although thoroughly and happily heterosexual. I am much more interested in relationships than sex, and partnerships rather than dominance. When I had growing children I did more than my share of parenting since my partner had the more demanding career and I had no problem with playing the male MBA card when necessary to change jobs and careers to accommodate parenting.

Probably because I make a point of noticing them, I see more males adopting this relationship model rather than the traditional if the sex is good it is good model. If this is effeminate so be it. I don't think so, I think it is simply not being a prick. That is one who is driven by testosterone to spread genes as far and wide as possible. I see the testosterone driven model waning at least among the educated elite, but perhaps that is wishful thinking and I am only noticing the minority that isn't growing at all. I hope not, as I think this is the only way a modern society can survive. Relegating half the society's brain power to the bedroom is not going to work."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Procreative vs recreational sex

Gender roles, family, God and Atheism - Beliefnet
Do you think there might be a biological advantage to having two parents that actually 'make love'? As opposed a family where the woman gets raped on a weekly basis? [...]I have six children. And we would have had more if I were up to it. [...] This happened because I sacrificed my life for my family and children.
Now does it bother me that they [atheists] much prefer recreational sex to procreational sex. [...]
Godman
J'C: "It would seem that parents that make love is almost a evolutionary necessity for a stable family and properly nurtured children. Which is why I object to the common religious edict that sex should not be making love it should be making children. The number of children resulting from that lovemaking should be a choice not chance, as you point out. You sacrificed your life for your family, which is a reasonable choice that I respect if your wife agreed with sacrificing her non-family contribution to society, I assume she did not work other than at home and family, and your sacrifice was the entire material support for the family.

Others may make a different choice, considering the overpopulation of the planet, that would be to combine recreational sex (I certainly hope you didn't deprive your wife of that when conception was not intended) with reproductive sex only for replacement levels. 2.3 kids, usually 2 to make up for those who choose more and both parents contribute to the economic and nurturing health of the family. I sacrificed my career several times to the needs of the family and my wife's career, and we shared the home duties equally with both doing more than our share so that the children would get the support and socialization that they needed. It worked out for the children which is most important."

Friday, July 31, 2009

Gender Issues

Beliefnet Community > Thread - Origins Community Room: "For most of my life I have been philosophically against gender identification except for necessary things like medical treatment and sex. In evaluating an activity or the reporting of an activity I try very hard to ignore the gender of the actor. A glorious contralto is wonderful, and a bad one sets the teeth on edge and the bad ones don’t get cut any slack from me because they are male. Similarly in science. Good science is good science and bad science doesn’t get a break from me just because some male has his name on it. Even in sports, as I am not impressed with times and records, a champion is a champion based on their use of their available resources. The fact that males respond better to androgenic steroids doesn’t make them better, just bigger and stronger.

I will admit to a bias for female providers in male dominated fields like medicine and law but that is a rational bias based on the adage that for a female to succeed at all in medicine or law she must be much better than any man. I also like the tag my ex (tenure track medical school 1960’s) used to add: Fortunately this is not difficult."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gender inclusive pronouns

Hell - Beliefnet Forums:
Heshe?
Anne Heche?

I am sorry but these pretentious gender-neutral pronouns used here strike me as a complete and utter wank. Wanky, wankish and wanker inspired.

The term is gender inclusive. (Your sexist bias is showing. Only males wank.)

If you prefer he/she/it, pronounced heesheeit in ordinary conversation when you are talking about a person or entity the gender of which is unimportant, be my guest. Or perhaps you would like to emphasize the feminine, she/he/it pronounced sheeheeit a very common expletive in the south of the US.

Language is important to our thinking, as we think in language. I live with a couple of people whose native language is Asian. Occasionally communication in English is difficult because of some of the language based assumptions in their (and my) thinking. As a relevant example people are not referred to as having gender in some Asian languages. Everybody is referred to as she, balls or not. It does color their thinking as referring to testosterone driven activities of a certain gender will go over their heads as they don't think in gender terms.

I find it useful to think that way myself, and have created some pronouns to help me do so. They are occasionally jarring to my thinking but in general it is a good thing, as it highlights the sexist assumptions that are built into my language. As a relevant example a famous scientist was unable to introduce a female full professor to a room full of people because his language had no word for female colleague.

I was involved peripherally in making the UU hymnal gender neutral, and was quite surprised to find how sexism colored my thinking about God. The God I rejected as a youthful atheist had balls and a prick which He used to fuck everybody that crossed Him.

Thinking of God as a gender neutral Parent combining the qualities of mom as well as dad changed my view of God considerably. He wasn't a testosterone driven asshole anymore, but a helping mentor. A teacher, professor type who never got upset with mistakes, (but never forgave them and made one get it right no matter how long it took.) Ultimately that view didn't work for me as God either, but it did help me organize my internal image of the group of mentors, male and female that determined the morality and purpose in my life. "