Author Topic: In the New Yorker...  (Read 884625 times)

Offline Jeff Wrangler

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 28,533
  • "He somebody you cowboy'd with?"
Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1880 on: February 28, 2018, 07:39:19 pm »
I just realized this directly contradicts my statement above it that I had heard Levitt's theory. I mean, I haven't heard anybody in recent years (since I've been covering aging and generational stuff) discuss abortion as a factor in the smaller size of Gen X.

One reason it's smaller is that the arbitrary lines they draw to distinguish "generations" encompass fewer years for Gen X, for some reason. But they would still be smaller anyway.

The only "real" generational distinction is baby boomers, who were created by an actual boom. Otherwise, the idea that people from one year have drastically different outlooks and behavior than people born the year after that is silly. It's really just a media invention. Fake news! Sad! :laugh:

 :laugh:
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 28,533
  • "He somebody you cowboy'd with?"
Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1881 on: March 03, 2018, 02:46:18 pm »
I recently finished the March 5 article about Jordan Peterson. I'm completely with him in objecting to using a plural pronoun ('they") as if it were singular. but I was really interested in the article because we are beginning to grapple with that issue in my job, because it is felt (rightly, in my opinion) that future physicians need to be trained to care for patients of many different sexual orientations/identities. The issue isn't just limited to pronouns. The issue is also noun usage, e.g., does the patient identify as transgender, transsexual, bisexual, asexual, non-binary, and so forth and so on.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 20,074
Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1882 on: March 04, 2018, 11:35:20 am »
I recently finished the March 5 article about Jordan Peterson. I'm completely with him in objecting to using a plural pronoun ('they") as if it were singular. but I was really interested in the article because we are beginning to grapple with that issue in my job, because it is felt (rightly, in my opinion) that future physicians need to be trained to care for patients of many different sexual orientations/identities. The issue isn't just limited to pronouns. The issue is also noun usage, e.g., does the patient identify as transgender, transsexual, bisexual, asexual, non-binary, and so forth and so on.

I haven't read the article yet, but I'm in favor of "they." Not just for the sake of non-binary people but for the sake of non-gendered pronouns in reference to non-specific people, i.e., "If a doctor told you to exercise, you should take their advice." I like it because most people do it in speech already. The Associated Press Style Guide (used throughout newspapers but other places, too) has approved its use, and up until a year or two ago they were still capitalizing "internet"!!

I've probably used it a time or two in casual writing for publication. I probably wouldn't use it in formal writing. And in any situation, I would try to get around it by using a plural noun, when that's possible. But"he or she" is awkward and I'm not a big fan of jumping back and forth. And I long ago stopped using default male pronouns in those situations. I think those reinforce the idea that men are people and women are women.

So as far as I'm concerned, the sooner everybody gets used to "they," the better. Somewhere along the way people stopped saying thee and thy, and nowadays everybody is comfortable with that. Language evolves.

I do think physicians, not just future but now, need to be aware of those distinctions and be sensitive to them. But unless it involves transgender people and has something directly to do with either transitioning or gender-specific ailments (a transgender woman with prostate cancer, for example), I don't see why a physician would care, especially not if the person is bisexual or asexual. I've never gone to, say, a dermatologist and been asked whom I prefer to sleep with.





Offline Jeff Wrangler

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 28,533
  • "He somebody you cowboy'd with?"
Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1883 on: March 04, 2018, 03:28:11 pm »
I haven't read the article yet, but I'm in favor of "they." Not just for the sake of non-binary people but for the sake of non-gendered pronouns in reference to non-specific people, i.e., "If a doctor told you to exercise, you should take their advice." I like it because most people do it in speech already. The Associated Press Style Guide (used throughout newspapers but other places, too) has approved its use, and up until a year or two ago they were still capitalizing "internet"!!

The AP has approved it? God, not only are the barbarians at the gate, they've broken down the gate.  ;D

There are still work-arounds: "if a doctor told you to exercise, you should take that advice."

Quote
But"he or she" is awkward.


I agree. Yes, it is.

Quote
I long ago stopped using default male pronouns in those situations. I think those reinforce the idea that men are people and women are women.

I'm sure many people agree with you.

Quote
So as far as I'm concerned, the sooner everybody gets used to "they," the better.

I can't believe you're saying that, but let be, let be.

Quote
Language evolves.

Not all changes are for the better.

I think in spoken language the use of "they" as singular sounds ignorant, and in written language it will continue to be confusing without the explanation "who prefers 'they.'"

Quote
I do think physicians, not just future but now, need to be aware of those distinctions and be sensitive to them. But unless it involves transgender people and has something directly to do with either transitioning or gender-specific ailments (a transgender woman with prostate cancer, for example), I don't see why a physician would care, especially not if the person is bisexual or asexual. I've never gone to, say, a dermatologist and been asked whom I prefer to sleep with.

Am I missing your point, or are you missing mine?
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 20,074
Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1884 on: March 04, 2018, 06:11:33 pm »
There are still work-arounds: "if a doctor told you to exercise, you should take that advice."

You're right. But you know what I mean. That's just the first one I could think of, and there aren't always handy work-arounds.
 
Quote
I can't believe you're saying that, but let be, let be.

Not all changes are for the better.

Of course not! Take the change of U.S. president in January 2017, for example.

But changing language (especially a pronoun!) is neither inherently better nor worse. After all, you have to change words all the time when you go from one country to the next -- even between regions or communities or professions in the same country. Language is not set in stone, there's no intrinsic moral superiority to one set of rules versus the other. The English language could easily have evolved to use "they" or "it" instead of "he" centuries ago and you probably wouldn't wishing it would become gender-specific because that's "better." The reason male pronouns became "standard" (though frankly they look extremely dated at this point, in almost any context) is because sexism has existed as long as the English language has.

In a lot of languages, people would disapprove of gender-neutral nouns, for Pete's sake. So glad we don't have to deal with that issue.

In this case "they" serves a useful function and merely echoes a change the language has already undergone in most people's speech. When someone is talking, they usually say "they."  :laugh: ;D

There were probably people clutching their pearls when we went from "thy" to "your." And of course you know the background of "ain't," right?

Quote
Am I missing your point, or are you missing mine?

I probably missed yours. I didn't understand why you were listing that jumble of things, some of which didn't seem to have anything to do with doctors.

Quote
future physicians need to be trained to care for patients of many different sexual orientations/identities. The issue isn't just limited to pronouns. The issue is also noun usage, e.g., does the patient identify as transgender, transsexual, bisexual, asexual, non-binary, and so forth and so on.

Why in the future as opposed to now? Also, I have been treated by countless physicians who had no idea whether I was bisexual or asexual or gay. Why would they need to? On the other hand, whether the patient is transgender is hugely important in treating some conditions, and from what I've heard it's a controversy because of how you're identified on insurance or something like that. Like, if you identify as a man you shouldn't be getting uterine cancer, so does insurance not have to cover your treatment?

But I wouldn't think sexual orientation would be an issue in medical treatment unless the doctor is a psychiatrist, in which case they  ;) might need to know.

Well, I guess the one area I can think of where it would matter is in bedside manner. Like, a doctor shouldn't automatically assume that if a patient is married, their  ;) spouse is of the opposite sex.

BTW, according to GLAAD, transsexual is the old-fashioned term for transgender and is usually considered dated. But sometimes people use it to distinguish people who've had gender-transition surgery.

One thing everybody should become more sensitive about is to offer more than two choices on forms (applications and things like that, where you're forced to pick female or male). I get annoyed when I see that now, especially from organizations that should know better, such as the government.



Offline Jeff Wrangler

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 28,533
  • "He somebody you cowboy'd with?"
Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1885 on: March 04, 2018, 09:17:32 pm »
But changing language (especially a pronoun!) is neither inherently better nor worse. After all, you have to change words all the time when you go from one country to the next -- even between regions or communities or professions in the same country. Language is not set in stone, there's no intrinsic moral superiority to one set of rules versus the other. The English language could easily have evolved to use "they" or "it" instead of "he" centuries ago and you probably wouldn't wishing it would become gender-specific because that's "better." The reason male pronouns became "standard" (though frankly they look extremely dated at this point, in almost any context) is because sexism has existed as long as the English language has.

Well, then, why don't we go with it? It's gender neutral as well as singular.

I can just imagine how mightily offended an individual who wants to be referred to in the plural would be to be referred to as it.

Quote
In this case "they" serves a useful function and merely echoes a change the language has already undergone in most people's speech. When someone is talking, they usually say "they."  :laugh: ;D

Yes, they do, but it still isn't standard English.

Quote
I probably missed yours. I didn't understand why you were listing that jumble of things, some of which didn't seem to have anything to do with doctors.

I don't see what was jumbled.

Quote
Why in the future as opposed to now?

Indeed, why not? But my perspective is from working in an organization involved with training future physicians. Current physicians have to shift for themselves.

Quote
Also, I have been treated by countless physicians who had no idea whether I was bisexual or asexual or gay. Why would they need to? On the other hand, whether the patient is transgender is hugely important in treating some conditions.

That's it right there. It might be relevant to the condition or it's treatment.

Quote
Well, I guess the one area I can think of where it would matter is in bedside manner. Like, a doctor shouldn't automatically assume that if a patient is married, their  ;) spouse is of the opposite sex.

That's exactly the point.

Quote
BTW, according to GLAAD, transsexual is the old-fashioned term for transgender and is usually considered dated. But sometimes people use it to distinguish people who've had gender-transition surgery.

Yes. And that distinction is still relevant in medicine. Gender is a social construct. A physician might have to treat a patient who self-identifies as a woman and lives and dresses as a woman and uses a female name, but has not had sex-reassignment surgery. And this can make a difference in diagnosis and treatment.

"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 20,074
Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1886 on: March 05, 2018, 11:23:31 am »
Well, then, why don't we go with it? It's gender neutral as well as singular.

Because, as I believe I've said in every post on this topic so far, people don't use that and it would sound weird and unnatural. People already do use they, and while you might notice it in writing I bet you don't always notice it when someone's speaking.

Quote
Well, then, why don't we go with it? It's gender neutral as well as singular.

OK, first of all, maybe we're talking about two different things. I admitted at the outset that I hadn't read the article that sparked this conversation. So is he talking about "they" to refer to people who don't identify with one gender or another? Or is he talking about using "they" in reference to an unspecified person, like "your doctor" or "a student"?

I thought it was the latter. But I'm in favor of the former, too, and so is the AP. I'm in favor of calling people whatever they want to be called.

Quote
I can just imagine how mightily offended an individual who wants to be referred to in the plural would be to be referred to as it.

Of course they'd be offended. That's why we don't do that. (Side note: I'm less in favor of newly coined pronouns, but whatever. I guess we can get used to those, too. After all, nobody thinks twice about "Ms" now, and when it was introduced everybody thought it was too weird to use.)

But why are you even asking this? I'm saying that if English had developed with a gender-neutral singular pronoun we wouldn't be having this conversation. It might have been "it," it might have been "poop" -- it could have been anything. If English speakers had been using it for centuries or millennia nobody would mind a bit.

Quote
Yes, they do, but it still isn't standard English.

But, as I keep saying, standard English changes, and you're looking at it happening now. Don't you ever read those articles every year about the news words the dictionary is including, often because people already use them? You still haven't weighed in with your feelings about the switch from thee and thy to you and your. Do you still call developmentally challenged people morons, as was once an official scientific term as well as standard English?

Quote
I don't see what was jumbled.

You mixed terms involving gender identity with terms involving sexual orientation, which are completely different things (despite being lumped together as "sexual minorities" or as members of the LGBTQ community -- both situations having more to do with politics than biology).

Gender identity would be crucially important in a medical setting. Sexual orientation would be almost a non-issue. That's why I was confused by the mix of terms. I cannot thing of any exchange I've ever had with any doctor anywhere when my sexual orientation was relevant or mentioned. Yes, doctors should be told not to make assumptions and say, "So how's the wife?" as small talk. But explaining that issue is not complicated. Gender identity is.

Quote
Yes. And that distinction is still relevant in medicine. Gender is a social construct. A physician might have to treat a patient who self-identifies as a woman and lives and dresses as a woman and uses a female name, but has not had sex-reassignment surgery. And this can make a difference in diagnosis and treatment.

Gender is a social construct??  ???  I think a lot of things are social constructs, but gender isn't one of them, IMO.

As for the rest of the paragraph, obviously gender identity is relevant. It's relevant whether the person has had sex-reassignment surgery or not. Biological men and women have different health issues and needs. Even if they've had surgery, many of those needs would be related to their pre-surgical bodies. And if they haven't had surgery, hormone treatments would also be a factor in their health.





Offline Jeff Wrangler

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 28,533
  • "He somebody you cowboy'd with?"
Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1887 on: March 05, 2018, 12:12:48 pm »
Gender is a social construct??  ???  I think a lot of things are social constructs, but gender isn't one of them, IMO.

Perhaps I should have said cultural rather than social. Chalk that up to my word-finding difficulty.

« Last Edit: March 05, 2018, 01:37:16 pm by Jeff Wrangler »
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 20,074
Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1888 on: March 06, 2018, 10:46:11 am »
Perhaps I should have said cultural rather than social. Chalk that up to my word-finding difficulty.

That's fine. You got your point across. I still disagree, though, unless I'm missing some larger meaning. Are you saying the differences between men and women (not the biological differences, but everything else) are entirely due to cultural influence? That in a different culture, men and women might just as easily behave like their opposite genders in this one? That transgender people don't have any deep identification with the gender that differs from their biological form -- they just like how it is performed in their culture?

 ???

I mean, if you're saying culture influences the way men and women behave, I'm totally with you. I agree with that and write about it.

But if you're saying all gender differences are entirely created by culture, I'd have to bail. What makes you say that?



Offline serious crayons

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 20,074
Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #1889 on: March 06, 2018, 11:33:57 am »
I finally got around to reading the Jordan Peterson article. At first I just skimmed because I couldn't see what was interesting enough about the guy to warrant 4 1/2 pages. He's conservative. And Canadian. And apparently rigid and outspoken. OK. So? But then I saw that his book is an international blockbuster and he's one of the most influential public intellectuals in the English-speaking world. So I decided I'd better know a bit more about him.

So I see that one of his issues is pronouns for nonbinary people (he doesn't get into the plural pronouns for indeterminate individuals, like "your doctor," we were discussing above). But oddly enough, I find he sounds a bit less conservative on that issue than you are, Jeff.

Quote
One of his foundational beliefs is that cultures evolve, which suggests that nonstandard pronouns could become standard. In a debate about gender on Canadian television, in 2016, he tried to find some middle ground. “If our society comes to some sort of consensus over the next while about how we’ll solve the pronoun problem,” he said, “and that becomes part of popular parlance, and it seems to solve the problem properly, without sacrificing the distinction between singular and plural ... I would be willing to reconsider my position."


Although he hasn't yet reconsidered his position, his views are actually similar to mine (on this one issue). The difference is, I think our society is partly there already and the rest had better get there quickly. Most people had never heard of nonbinary gender 10 years ago. Now we have and there are lots of people who have come out as non-binary, which presents the problem of pronouns. But luckily there's a relatively easy solution and many people are already doing to refer to non-binary people. And many people had already using plural pronouns in the "your doctor" cases. So it's not a huge leap.

Whereas you sound like you think standard English is standard English, and that's the end of that that. You never did address my thy/your question, but I assume what you consider "standard English" is something like, maybe, AP style in 2016 -- before it changed the pronoun rule.

A guy I work with is the father of a non-binary person who looks to be in their late teens/early 20s. He calls them "them." He has posted photos of them on Facebook and it's hard to tell what biological gender they originally were/are. I kind of think female, but I'm not certain.