On pronouns

My pronouns are he/him/his. This should not come as a surprise to anyone as I suspect my identity as a cis male is fairly obvious, at least to anyone who notices the traditionally male name affixed to the site, and certainly to anyone who has ever seen me in person. There was a time when my hair was long, curly, and glorious, and I was addressed as “ma’am” once or twice in public in my college years only to have the person hastily correct themselves upon seeing what the front of my head looks like.

To be clear, I think normalizing making your pronouns explicit even if you’re cisgendered is a good thing. At least two of my online profiles (Twitter and TikTok) contain them, and I do my best to call people what they want me to call them. There have been times where I’ve had to discreetly inquire of a third party what someone’s pronouns were, and I’ve had students recently who either wanted to be they/them or were out as trans, at least in my classroom. Those types of kids are the exact reason I do stuff like this. I feel like it’s the right thing to do.

I’m not going to review Dr. Meera Shah’s You’re the Only One I’ve Told: The Stories Behind Abortion, or at least not beyond this paragraph, and the reason is that you already know everything you need to know about the book from the title, including whether you want to read it. It’s not a bad book by any means, but it’s also not really surprising in any way.

Well, okay, the way it handles pronouns is kinda strange, and I wanted to talk about that a little bit. Now, this is a book about abortion, so you won’t be surprised to learn that the subjects of nearly every chapter are people who can get pregnant, and nearly all of those are cisgendered women. One chapter focuses on a cis man, whose name is Mateo, and that chapter focuses on the effect that abortion can have on the partners of the people who get abortions. One subject identifies as genderqueer and is they/them.

Every single chapter is titled with the name of the main subject of the chapter, with their pronouns, italicized, in a smaller font, and in parentheses, below the person’s name, along with the word “Pronouns”. So, like this:

BEATRICE

(Pronouns: She/her/hers)

Also, when other individuals are introduced throughout the text, their pronouns are also provided immediately after their name is first used– but oddly inconsistently, as it’s not used for everyone. (I swear that Dr. Shah directly addresses her rationale for this at some point in the book, but I can’t find it, and it doesn’t appear to be in the introduction, which is the most obvious place.)

At any rate, that’s what triggered the post: because for some reason this became distracting as hell over the course of the book, and I wanted to kind of talk it out and see if anybody pushed back at me. Putting your pronouns on a profile (or, as I did at a con once, on a sticker that you’re wearing) has the advantage of letting strangers know how to refer to you. Again, sometimes it’s more obvious than others– no one is going to look at me and call me “she” unless explicitly told to– but I get why it’s a thing and I participate in it.

This book does things like this:

When I spoke to Dr. Hoobity (Pronouns: she/her/hers), she told me that…

Not a direct quote, but stuff like that happens all the time– an explicit listing of the person’s personal pronouns, annoyingly including the word “pronouns,” immediately followed by a use of one of those pronouns. That risk of confusion or causing inadvertent offense just isn’t present when you’re writing about someone, because you’re going to use pronouns all the time. It’s hard to write about people without using pronouns, and in a book that is about people who can get pregnant it becomes even more ridiculous because nearly everyone identifies as she/her. Even the genderqueer person’s pronouns are explicit nearly immediately; the first use of singular they made it clear very quickly, and they talked about being genderqueer in the chapter. I was fully expecting (and would have been interested to read) a chapter at some point about a trans male’s experience with pregnancy and abortion, but it never happened. The one chapter about a person identifying as male is Mateo’s, and he’s cis, and his chapter is basically about cis men.

It didn’t ruin the book or anything like that, don’t get me wrong, but it was distracting enough that, well, I wrote the post about pronouns instead of about the actual book. Am I off-base here, or do other people feel like this would be distracting for them as well?

In which I am dead

Parent/Teacher conferences tonight, for two and a half hours. I am … less psyched about the rest of my evening than I might be.

On yard signs, again

I should probably feel at least kind of guilty about how I’ve handled my day so far. Under the current hybrid model my district has adopted while we pretend that our numbers in the state and the county aren’t skyrocketing, Wednesdays are days where all of the kids are home and the buildings are “deep cleaned.” We were instructed last week to keep these days asynchronous– in other words, there is to be no live instruction on Wednesdays, and thus I’m freed from having to spend my entire day in front of a computer screen. Furthermore, because of the aforementioned need for deep cleaning, even the staff that have been reporting to work are home today. I’d have been home anyway, mind you, but I’m super at home today.

Why is everything asynchronous on Wednesdays? Because they want to use those days for training. Which is why I was a bit surprised to learn that today’s training was a single hour in length and was not required to be viewed live. So rather than make sure to log in precisely at 10:00 to watch it as it unfolded, I went out and ran some errands, leaving the house for the first time in eight days. I voted, managing to hit the County/City building at a slow moment and getting in and out in 32 minutes, which didn’t seem too bad. Since I was downtown, I went to the Griffon and bought some dice, then hit the comic shop, got a flu shot, grabbed lunch from a drive-thru and came home. Now, of course, I’m blogging, and I guess when I’m done with this I’ll do the training module and get my lesson for tomorrow recorded. But so far it’s 1:41 on what is technically not a day off and I haven’t done a single thing for work. I kind of feel like I should feel bad about that. Then again, I wasn’t the one who told me to not meet with students today because of trainings and then only scheduled an hour of training.

(stares off into space for eighteen full minutes)

Anyway, I was going to talk about road signs. I was mostly along the same route I was last time I did this, so I can report a handful of changes:

  • There is now a single (1) Holcomb for Governor and a single (1) Myers for Governor sign, although obviously not in the same yard. Notably, Indiana has a Libertarian running this year who is expected to capture a nontrivial percentage of the vote because of Republicans who are disappointed that Holcomb’s actually attempting to take the virus seriously– enough so that it’s less unimaginable that the Democrat might win than it might be otherwise, given how utterly shit his campaign has been. I’ve seen no signs for that guy anywhere, though.
  • Overall the volume of signs has not changed notably, and continues to be primarily for state and local races.
  • Interestingly, and somewhat depressingly, I’ve noted a trend in yards that have signs for the presidential race in their yard, and it doesn’t appear to be a partisan trend: the lawn signs for President are usually placed much closer to the actual house than any others. I would guess that people are either actually stealing and/or destroying them or people are assuming that they will if they put their sign within reach of the street.

I voted pretty much in accordance with my earlier endorsements, although I’m a bit more irritated with the School Board today than I was when I wrote that post two weeks ago and I very nearly did not vote for John Anella. Rudy Monterrosa continues to have earned my vote. I also decided to vote for the Democrat in the county coroner race despite the Republican candidate having formerly been my doctor. Upon thinking about it a bit more, despite my history of not voting for this office and my strong contention that it has no reason to be 1) elected or 2) partisan in the first place, I feel like any doctor who has been alive to witness the science-denying, mask-refusing death cult the GOP has turned into in the last four years and remains a part of the party can no longer be trusted. Sorry, Dr. Jordan. I liked you when you were my doctor but this isn’t okay.

In which don’t listen to this

I got no useful sleep last night. There were probably a few hours of technical unconsciousness in there somewhere, but for no clear reason there was no rest of any kind, and I’ve been dragging ass all day long.

I got involved in a conversation about obscenity and sexuality in music today (not in class,) and it reminded me that Lucille Bogan exists, and I doubt many of you have heard of her. If you think that anything new is going on right now with regard to sexuality and “profanity” and music … well, you might want to give this a listen.

#REVIEW: Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse

I am a big fan of Rebecca Roanhorse. Her debut novel, Trail of Lightning, was the second-best book I read in 2018 and the follow-up to that, A Storm of Locusts, didn’t blow me away quite as much it was still on the Honorable mention list for next year.

Her novel Black Sun, which just came out last week, is the only thing so far in 2020 seriously competing with Scarlet Odyssey for my favorite book of the year. This is the first book of a new trilogy and not part of the Sixth World series, so it’s unrelated to her previous books. (She has also written a Star Wars novel and a YA book, neither of which I have read yet. I will probably get around to the YA book eventually but I have kind of soured on Star Wars novels at the moment.)

(EDIT: Since I wrote those two paragraphs, I’ve spent half an hour helping a now-college-aged former student with her stats homework, which meant I needed to quickly reteach myself the relevant material, and had a lengthy conversation with my brother regarding a wide variety of topics, none of which I really care to get into. Also, another former student died today and my head is suddenly not in this any longer. This book is good. It is second-world Mesoamerica in the same way that, say, Game of Thrones is second-world Europe, and that in and of itself is a reason to read it because there just isn’t enough of that on the shelf. And I like this more than her previous work because in general I prefer second-world fantasy to urban fantasy, even when the urban fantasy is rural fantasy, and I’m a big fan of good worldbuilding, and once again I want to know everything about this world she’s set up. But this post was going to be longer before my brain fell apart, and it is well and truly fallen right now. Go read, plz. Kthxbai.)