Get your GLAAD rags on, roll out the rainbow skittles and get ready to party. On second thought, you’d better pour yourself a stiff drink before you plunge into all things gender 2020 because boi, bi, butch (or whichever one of dozens of other ‘gender identities’ you prefer — oops! — ‘identify as’), are you going to need it.
You may have missed it the last couple of years but Wednesday October 21 this year is the third annual International Pronouns Day, the ultimate solution in search of a problem.
Until recently pronouns — a bit like the words ‘sex’ and ‘gender’, really — were unremarkable words that we took for granted and used instinctively without much thought, albeit that their use depended upon a common understanding of their purpose. Pronouns are words that substitute for a noun; they’re a kind of word shorthand that allow us to speak or write without constantly repeating nouns. But you already knew this. They used to teach it in schools.
This is the 21st century, however, and the ‘speech is violence’ crowd has ‘identified’ pronouns as hate-filled symbols of oppression and heteronormativity, and schools now concentrate on education essentials like Critical Race Theory and climate justice instead.
International Pronouns Day is the day you didn’t know the world needed. Probably because it didn’t.
Anyway, I know you’ll be so excited at the prospect of a whole day given over to gender-inclusive fun and games that you’re now clamouring to find out how to get with the program.
Firstly I suggest a bit of light reading about the complex world of gender identification because it’s a gender jungle out there. My recommendations include a handy little guide published late last year on the Healthline website. Written by Mere Abrams (pronouns they/them/their) 64 terms that describe gender, identity and expression is your introduction to the world beyond binary gender categories.
For etiquette in a post-Emily Post and, incidentally, post-etiquette, world you should also arm yourself with a thorough understanding of what to do if you actually, and horrifically, ‘mispronoun’ someone. You really don’t want to be accused of ‘mispronouning’ someone. If the activists have their way this heinous ‘crime’ will soon be punishable by forcing transgressors to wear a scarlet pronoun on their clothing. You’ll also want to learn how to share your pronouns to “disrupt the normalization of privilege and assumption”.
Next up you’ll need a hashtag, the one accessory that any activist worth his/her/their etc. salt can’t live without. After all, if it’s not trending on Twitter it can’t possibly be important. The one you need to like and share is #PronounsDay, but of course, if you identify with a different hashtag please share that instead. We only tell ‘cis’ people what to do.
Now you’ll be ready to move on to actually celebrating the glorious day. Suggestions from the website include:
Set up a table and photo booth in a medium/high traffic area and encourage people to take a picture and hold up their written pronouns. Share on social media with expressed permission of individuals.
Request a Proclamation or statement of support from a local official (e.g. mayor, city or county legislature, student goverment, your organization’s President or leader, etc.), which can be shared with media and community members.
Have a button maker available where people can get creative and make their own pronoun buttons.
Create a poster campaign on your campus or at your workplace, with educational messages.
Oh, goody! Everyone will have a blast.
But you haven’t yet mentioned the fun and games, I hear you say.
That’s because there aren’t any. Gender activism is a serious business and absolutely no fun was had in the making of the website or the resources and it is certainly not expected that you’ll actually have fun on the day.
In the inimitable, and slightly amended, words of Get Smart’s Siegfried, “This is chaos! We don’t do that here!” Dissenters will be sent to the gulag.
Have a great day.
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