It’s All in the Pronouns

So, the time change is taking some getting used to. Not for me, of course. Nothing looks that different, except for Mike going to bed at 8:30 and getting up at 5. And yawning all day. But, he will adjust. We had the local news on Saturday and heard the remarkable statement that starting Sunday there would be 1 less hour of daylight….. and this from a professional meteorologist. I wonder what Crackerjack box he got his degree from.

Saturday Mike sat in front of the TV and watched an entire football game. This rarely happens. It was the annual match-up between the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators. I guess it was a good game, and it came out the way it was supposed to, judging by Mike’s smug, satisfied expression at the game’s conclusion. Go Dogs!

I’m not sure how to put this, but Mike is in a state about pronouns. It seems that certain people have established as normative that it is perfectly reasonable to go through life as either a non-gendered or an other-than-assigned-at-birth-gendered person. There are multiple permutations of this phenomenon. Probably the simplest to explain is that some boys decide that they are really girls on the inside, and want to have their gender reassigned, with or without  corrective surgery. Or, that some girls think they are really boys, and want their gender reassigned accordingly, also with or without surgery. Usually there are hormone treatments that go along with these gender manipulations. This has led, at times, to incongruous situations in which, for instance, people who look like men are getting pregnant and having babies.

Less easy, at least for me to explain, is that some people object philosophically to the idea of gender assignment. These people may not wish to be referred to as either “he” or “she” for whatever reason. What works better for these people is “they.” Some people, Mike included, find it awkward to refer to one person with a plural pronoun. Nevertheless, I think the movement has momentum. The American Psychological Association, in the most recent edition of its style manual, has endorsed the use of the singular “they” in scholarly writing. In fact, to some extent the singular “they” has always been in common use, as in, for example, “A person should always eat their vegetables.” This is acceptable because of the awkwardness of saying, “A person should always eat his or her vegetables.” Or, “One should always eat one’s vegetables.” According to the style manual, the singular “they” is to be used in 2 situations. One, when the individual being discussed prefers to be referred to as “they.” And two, when a generic person whose gender is unknown is being referred to, or where their gender is irrelevant to the context. (That is really three situations, but I will let this go. I don’t want to appear to be too critical, even if I am.) The term Mike has heard for this non-assignment of a gender is “non-binary.” The theory is that gender is learned, rather than biologically determined. Mike’s friend, Steve, told him he has heard that some parents don’t assign a name to their babies. They then expose them to traditionally male and female toys, clothes, activities, and so on, and let them choose who and what they want to be.  Steve thinks all such children should be named “Pat” to allow sufficient leeway for subsequent choices. I think children need to be told what to do, a lot, if they will ever achieve functional adulthood, but nobody asked me. In Mike’s world he is encountering patients who are transgender and/or non-binary, so he is just going to have to make the adjustment to the new reality.

But it is not just that we have to get used to “they”, “their,” and “them” as singular pronouns. A whole new group of words has been added to the lexicon. Consider the terms :”ze,” “xe,” “zir,”ve” “ey,” “per,” “hir,” and “hen.” Oy, vay! You can consider them, as I just suggested, or if you want to know if they are real words, and what they mean, you need do no more than look in the latest editions of standardized dictionaries. If you object to such words as just being made up, here is another thing to consider: All words are made up. To illustrate, consider the difficulty Eve and the snake would have had conversing with each other if they hadn’t gotten together first and made up a few Hebrew words. Adam must have been in on this as well.

You may have heard of a custody case in Texas where a minor child wanted gender-reassignment surgery. The parents did not agree on this.  One parent along with the child sued the other parent. The judge ruled, wisely, that both parents have equal custody, so the 3 of them are just going to have to work it out for now. Never missing an opportunity to make Southern people look foolish, a Georgia legislator has announced an intention to introduce a law that would subject a doctor to imprisonment for performing such surgery on a minor. The topic opens itself up to much ridiculousness and ridicule. Nevertheless, there is a core group of people to whom this business is important, and they deserve to be taken seriously. What Mike doesn’t like is being judged by the non-binary militants. He says he is working on it, so give him a break. He is following a daily prayer and meditation practice which includes the Prayer of St. Francis (See “It Is What It Is,” October 24, 2019) The prayer calls for Mike to seek to understand rather than be understood, and it looks like he has started using it just in time. Hang in there, Mike. And, if the phenomenon of non-binary cats ever becomes an issue, you can be my role-model for tolerance and understanding.

And lest you think that this is an entirely new to the world issue, history is full of stories of cross-dressers and others who did not accept their assigned gender roles gladly. You may recall the theme song from the old sit-com, “All in the Family,” a song bemoaning the disappearance of the “good old days” when “girls were girls and men were men.” Possibly we are experiencing another case of the more things change the more they stay the same. But enough of this.

So, I mentioned a while ago that the Fowl Party is putting up Donald Donck as a candidate. He still hasn’t decided what office he is going to run for. Judging by the above discussion, Happy Meadows may need a grammarian. Or, he might consider offering to run for the US Senate. You may or may not know that our Senator, Johnny Isakson, is retiring mid-term because of health reasons. The Georgia governor, Brian Kemp, has the responsibility of appointing someone to serve out Senator Isakson’s term. Governor Kemp has invited applications for the job, and has received over 500 so far, but to date, none from the Fowl Party. He is much more likely to name a Republican, but these are strange times, so you never know. I know this much: he will be hard -pressed to find a finer person to serve the state of Georgia than Johnny Isakson.

Well, that is all the news for now from Happy Meadows. Except for this: today is the 80th wedding anniversary of Mike’s parents. Mike says they were lovely people who were very devoted to each other, and enjoyed many happy years of marriage. They also were what people are now calling “old school,” and were very much in charge of Mike and his brother. The boys were raised; they didn’t just grow up. All the same, Mike is pretty sure he would never have chosen to be a girl, even if given the opportunity to do so. He just isn’t that interested in shoes. So, until the next time, be well, be happy, and always count your blessings. Bye, bye from Happy Meadows.


Author: Black Magic

Black Magic is a handsome, charming, and self-absorbed cat who lives with Mike and Judy Gordon in Marietta, Georgia. He is about 7 years old, and he will remind you at every opportunity that his grandfather was Black Jack, that famous cat who wrote his own autobiography. Black Magic has a great many opinions, and despite his natural feline arrogance, he seems to be genuinely spiritual. But the reader can decide for him/herself.

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