So at a dinner party last night my mom and I got into it about pronouns (the back story is that my sister is in an open relationship with a FAAB genderqueer person) and my mom was lamenting about how horribly confusing it is for her when genderqueer people prefer to be called “they/them” because “It’s a word that already exists!” and how she prefers zhe/zhey.  She even used her married gay friends as proof, saying that they agreed with her about it. (Her gay friends who are cis and male and white and upper-middle class by the way.)  She showed a lot of outward exasperation and annoyance at GQ people who prefer the ‘they’ pronoun, which I admit I felt defensive and triggered by.  My response arguments were that:

  • It’s really not her right to decide what someone else’s pronouns should be
  • In the grand scheme of things, this pronoun thing that might slightly annoy or confuse her is nowhere near the epic scale of oppression that genderqueer people face
  • Her apparent anger/annoyance at the thought of having to track someone’s pronouns is misdirected at oppressed people when it should be aimed at our culture for defining gender as binary in the first place
  • She has never had a conversation with a non-binary-gendered person about WHY they use that pronoun.  She admitted this when I asked, and also named that she would be interested in talking to a GQ person about it because she is genuinely curious and doesn’t have any perspective outside of her own.

She got real quiet at the end of the conversation.  I like to think she that she was mostly taking it all in, although it could have been pretty embarrassing to get called out by me (granted, we had an audience of two other people: her friend and my BF).  I recognize that her root intention behind all this is she’s afraid of offending people or coming across as ignorant or insensitive.  She wants to be accommodating to others, but part of her privilege is that she gets to get angry at other people for using pronouns that she finds confusing.

Also, after I explained the definition of cis to my mom and her friend, her friend said “What, the word ‘straight’ isn’t good enough anymore?” and I just

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I mean, I love these people to death, but christ-on-a-cracker is there a lot of work to do.

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  6. fatbottompurls said: I’m still trying to get my father to agree not to say sexist things around my daughter. Non-binary gender would make his head explode from lack of understanding. I’m not sure he even knows what a pronoun is.
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  9. mouthofthecave said: (2) happens every time and I’m way less articulate than you so I just get rly frustrated and mad.
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  11. glueandpieces reblogged this from misandry-mermaid and added:
    I had a similar argument with my Mum, it was very short. She was too drunk to absorb or remember the subtleties, so I...
  12. hypnictwitch said: Jesus.
  13. metis-problems said: omfg I feel you… my mother pulled similar shit in the summer :/ She refused to call my nephew (a FtM transgender) by his preferred pronouns and essentially she played the victim -.- Because asking her to TRY makes us horrible people…
  14. cacasimonster said: Oy. Good for you though. kudos to you mom for being pretty understanding of that in the first place
  15. sbinthecity said: I feel you sister. At least your family is willing to have a conversation about how to make gender queer individuals more comfortable. People from my cultural background just think this shit is a waste of time and funny. Sigh the Lord is testing me.