Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What's Your Pronoun?

Right now, in fact this very minute, there is war taking place in many countries around the globe. People are getting blown to smithereens. Or else they are being tortured, or are in hiding, or looking for food and water, or deprived of shelter, or making a long and difficult journey to another country that might or might not allow them to come in and live in peace there. It's truly terrible what's going on for so many who, by the simple bad luck of where they were born, are caught in the crossfires somewhere else.

But, thankfully, here in the United States, aside from the press beating up the president things are quiet. So quiet in fact that our young people have the luxury of feeling insulted by which pronouns people use when addressing them, either in print or in conversation. The administrators at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont have solved this dire situation by providing pin-on buttons that help clarify this matter. One campus student leader said, “I think the pins are good. When you create a culture that says, ‘Hey, we ask people’s pronouns, we don’t assume them,’ that really lets students know that that’s the culture of the school, and they can either accept it or not.”

Today's pins display pronouns ranging from she/her and he/him to they/them and xe/xem. One type says, “Hello, my pronouns are fluid. Please ask me!” Back in the 60s, our pronouns were more about personality than gender. If only we had been given pins at NYU! Who knows, I might have avoided my entire first marriage.

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