Twincoherent: A Note on Gender

Restroom Sign

I don’t know which public restroom your child will be using.

As I’ve been preparing more twincidents for your reading pleasure, the Grammatical Terrors of writing with gender in mind have reared their ugly heads, so I figured I’d tackle that now, in Twinfamy’s first few days, before its umbilical cord falls off.

Ahem.

Most babies are either male or female. This is especially helpful (and fun!) when those babies grow up and attempt to make more babies.

However, this two-party system makes it difficult to use personal pronouns when writing about a generic child (and really, all people). In the olden days, when dinosaurs and handlebar mustaches ruled the earth, a then male-dominated society would opt for pronouns with a penis (he, him, his, etc.). Nowadays, many writers exclusively use vaginal pronouns (she, her and… um…her), some overcompensating from the paranoia of being branded a male chauvinist, and others in an effort to make up for the sins of writers before them.

Still others attempt to write in a completely gender-neutral fashion. This can be done by always using the plural form (e.g. they/them) and occasionally crafting sentences that are either grammatically incorrect or slightly awkward, as well as using other generic terms (child, baby, youngster, progeny, offspring, loinfruit, etc.), but this often is just a pacifier’s throw away from referring to a baby as an “it,” which is just offensive. It makes you sound like a Terminator seeking your target and attempting to destroy “it.” Some writers even employ clumsy, multiple-choice eyesores like s/he, him/her, and my personal least favorite, him/herself.

Simply put, writing about singular, hypothetical babies can be a pain in the diaper.

I care about you, O Loyal Reader, and I don’t want you to stumble over such madness. It would anger me if that got in the way of you consuming my genius, in the same way that Mel Gibson would be a half-blue-faced, kilted savage if some dufus in a ten-gallon hat were blocking your view of Lethal Weapon 5.

However, I don’t know which public restroom your child will be using when HE OR SHE grows up (see how lame that is?). You might even have one of each like me, or dare I say some combination involving three or more (and if you do, God bless you). No matter what, I can’t always write in such a way that is pronounically relevant to your exact situation. I’m sorry. Don’t cry. I can wrap you up in your blankie if it’ll make you feel better.

The best way I’ve seen it executed in other parenting texts is by alternating between masculine and feminine forms every other chapter or post, so I’ll do the same here, with the exception of gender-relevant topics, like how to avoid a golden shower while changing your son’s diaper.

Since I have both a girl and boy, I’m already tuned into that balancing act, as evidenced by the equal number of pink and light blue items that have taken over my house. So if it happens that you have a son and I use “she” in a post, I’ll ask you to not assume I’m calling him a sissy, nor am I calling your stunningly beautiful daughter mannish when I use “he.” I’m just trying to keep it even, as I do with my love for my own son and daughter—tied at 100%.

(Yes, I do realize that allocating 100% to each would actually equal 200% of my love, which is technically impossible. Don’t be that guy…or girl.)

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4 comments

  1. alienorajt

    Superb: funny, sweet and beautifully written – am now following you…though not, I hasten to add, in any sinister and stalker-ish fashion! Alienora (recent arrival on Planet WordPress, and mother of one!)

    Like

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