Progressive feminists and transgender advocates wish to control language and thus control people’s behavior. There is a movement to ban the gender pronouns “he” and “she” in an attempt by these groups to gain political power. New York City criminalizes behavior not conforming to new politically acceptable pronouns. It is an Orwellian attempt to curtail free speech for political ends.
I want to thank my California State Senator, Hannah-Beth Jackson, for providing me with endless material for my columns. Jackson, once known as “Taxin’ Jackson”, is a prolific law generator.
Back in October I criticized the new California law she sponsored requiring publicly-held corporations to include women on their corporate boards of directors (“California’s Feminist Corporate Coup”). That bill was based on “fake” data and will do nothing to advance the cause of women in the corporate world.
My point in the article was:
California is setting itself up as a hothouse of identity politics which divides us rather than unites us. Laws like this are breaking down society into what social scientists have classified as essentially a form of tribalism, a thing that has plagued progress for millennia. This is a major step backwards.
Jackson is a proud member of the Progressive feminist movement and considers herself a powerful instrument for “gender neutrality” and the rights of transgender people.
In case you are not aware of what’s going on in the world of identity politics, feminist Progressives have been pushing for gender neutrality in language. That is, they assert that gender equality would be advanced by the elimination of gender pronouns such as “he” and “she”.
The other arm of this movement is to give transgender people anti-discrimination rights similar to traditional minorities (i.e., race, creed or national origin). They have created an entire social movement to bend non-trans folks to their demands for what they believe is equality. One of the first steps in doing that is to create laws that protect their feelings.
In this feminist world I am designated as cisgendered (commonly referred to as cis). For those of you who lead sheltered, privileged, “un-woked” lives, that means you “identify” yourself with the sex type (gender) you were “assigned” at birth. I am pretty sure I am a cisgendered male.
The trans movement’s criticism of being typed as “male” or “female” at birth has some merit. If you check out the Wikipedia article “Disorders of sex development” you will discover that there many anomalies to sexual development as the result of chromosome differences that determine gender. Men are men because they have XY chromosomes; females have XX. But there are XXY females; XXY males; XXXX females; XXYY males; XXXXX females; XXXXY males; etc., etc.). These anomalies can result in serious health and development issues, including “males” developing as “females” at puberty, and vice versa. These are rare occurrences in nature, but they do exist. Gender is just not that simple.
But that’s not the issue. The issue is identity politics whereby Progressives use language to their political advantage. Words, after all, are ideas. Control words and you control ideas. Control ideas and you control people.
The big furor over language and transgender politics boiled over in the Senate Judiciary Committee of the California Assembly. Senator Jackson is the chair of this committee. As committee chair, she banned the use of male and female pronouns in her committee. The new rule has not yet been posted on the Committee’s web site so it is difficult to figure out how this will work. In public appearances she said that men and women will be referred to as “they” rather than he or she. “They” is considered to be a “non-binary” word for he or she. This made big news on conservative and Christian web sites.
I don’t have a problem with someone who wants to be called “they” as long as I’m not forced to do it. The problem with rules like Ms. Jackson’s is that you know it’s just a foot in the door. It is a movement that is headed to making the use of “they” a mandatory requirement. Can you be fired if you use gendered pronouns in companies who ban their use? Will academia ban gender pronouns? Is it going to be against the law?
If you think I am stretching the point you should check out New York City. There the Commission on Human Rights requires employers, landlords, and professionals to address employees, tenants, clients, or customers by their preferred pronoun such as “they/them/theirs or ze/hir”. The penalties are stiff (“civil penalties up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct”). An example of a violation is: “Refusal to use a person’s name, pronouns, or title because they do not conform to gender stereotypes. For example, insisting on calling a non-binary person ‘Mr.’ after they have requested to be called ‘Mx.’”
Then there is Canada. Consider Bill C-16 (An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code) which became law in 2017. It amended the criminal code of the Canadian Human Rights Act to include “gender identity or expression” as a right deserving protection from discrimination like those based on race, origin, color, religion, age, sexual orientation, etc.
If you haven’t heard of Jordan Peterson, a Canadian professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, then you have been living in a cave. He testified against the bill, saying that it would be a criminal act if he refused to address a student by their preferred pronoun instead of he or she. He saw it as an attack on freedom of speech. (Canada is less tolerant of “hate” speech than we here in the U.S.) This created a firestorm of controversy and made Peterson a huge international media star. His book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos has been an international bestseller. His YouTube channel has 1.8 million subscribers.
Peterson is a very deep and interesting intellectual and a vocal opponent of identity politics and neo-Marxian Postmodernism. He is very controversial which is why I am a fan. Many deny his claim about the impact of C-16. We shall see.
Jackson’s goal is to gain political traction from feminists and transgender voters. It is a heavy-handed, cynical, Orwellian1move. Language is something created by people, not legislators. If people want to do away with “he” and “she”, they will. Yet she and her feminist supporters want to use the coercive powers of government to force us to change. In doing so, they push society apart. More tribalism.
So, Senator Jackson, if you are a true believer in gender neutrality, we expect you to stop using gender pronouns in all of your work and private life. You’ll find it’s hard to get around the use of gender pronouns, considering we humans have been using them for good reasons since we gained the ability to speak. Otherwise, it’s all hypocrisy.
1. “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.” George Orwell, 1984.