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activism Politics prejudice women

My pronouns are I/me

For most of my life, feminists have called upon women to resist stating their ‘gender’ in work situations, to discourage sex harassment and/or discrimination.

Many public authority jobs used to be advertised and processed in a sex-blind and race-blind manner, to avoid discrimination in recruitment.

Then someone decided the way to check for and correct discrimination was to ask people to state their sex, race, disabilities etc for an anonymised data-list so they could check for discrimination.

I suppose that was okay, except that it worried people who remembered Nazis collecting such info and/or using those records when they set about their systematic attack on ‘undesirables’.

But it also got people used to the idea that any and every form they filled in would ask those things. And then the whole sex and gender thing got mixed up, so that nobody knows what it means now, when you are asked to state your sex, or ‘assigned’ sex or gender, as though it’s something handed out by the quarter master, or gender identity, a thing that may or may not exist, because you just have to choose from whatever oddities the form you’re currently filling in has gone for.

And now, the government has put out a form for people to fill in to do a consultation on issues deeply connected to those features, and it asks you for information about ‘the gender you were assigned at birth’ – a complex and contentious idea that many people roundly disagree with.

And now, in their workplaces, people are being asked to state ‘their’ pronouns on everything, so that women who want to follow the rules our generation lived by either have to hide their sex by plumping for some made-up pronoun, or they have to advertise their sex on everything they write, say and do.

If they come for you, tell them your pronouns are I/me.

If they want to talk about themselves, they can say whatever they like. If they want to talk about you, tell them to use whatever pronouns they like – it’s supposed to be a free country.

As for me, I am waiting for our culture to rediscover those oh-so important words, ‘we’ and ‘us’ because, way, way more urgently than anyone wants their unique identity to be validated, we need to relearn how to work together to solve our many, urgent problems.

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