Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, etc)

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby poxic » Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:11 am UTC

Asexuals can and sometimes do have sex. They just don't experience sexual attraction to the person they're with.

If they love a person but aren't sexually attracted to them, they might choose to have sex with them anyway in order to make the other person happy. That's a fairly common arrangement since asexuals are rare enough to make pairing up with another asexual difficult. (We're about 1% of the population.)
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:36 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:I know asexuals who have borne and raised children, which leads me to believe that you still don't understand most of the key words you're using.

(And "virgin births" *are* possible with the help of IVF and artificial insemination.)

Edit: also you know it's possible to care for children that didn't personally come out of your own body, right?
With you I should have used the word parthenogenesis.

Is there any reason why they shouldn't? Anyone who enjoys children can be a parent. And yes I know it is possible to care for children you didn't give birth to. I have two stepchildren and no natural kids. However none of this matters in the least. Being a parent can be part of a gender role, but it isn't an exclusive part, nor is sexual preference. When I say women, the internal model I have is pretty complex. Sexual preference is the least and sexual biology only somewhat higher, of course I admit that at one point in time that wasn't true. Generally speaking the women I am close enough to to speak of this, don't like that being the first thing on lips when I talk to them. I could say the same of gay men. So when I see a list of what I consider sexual preference, with the exception I've already noted, I become somewhat confused as to why it is called a gender. However I am going to hang on to my contention for the present, it may be that further research or the passage of time might change my mind. Thanks for the discussion.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:47 am UTC

Sexual preferences are not gender, though, and no one has ever said they were. (Except maybe you? Your communication in this thread is characteristically incomprehensible, so it's hard to tell.)

My points about asexuals having and caring for children were because you apparently didn't think it was possible for an asexual to do those things, based on your claim that I "described asexual in such a way as it means nothing".

I didn't ever say gender was based on or even related to sexual preference. I have suggested an alternative "primary" or "baseline" gender classification based on actual reproductive activities rather than your account of potentially reproductive genitals, but that's just as a hypothetical non-binary system, not necessarily what I think happened historically. And it's still not based on sexual preference.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:01 am UTC

poxic wrote:Asexuals can and sometimes do have sex. They just don't experience sexual attraction to the person they're with.

If they love a person but aren't sexually attracted to them, they might choose to have sex with them anyway in order to make the other person happy. That's a fairly common arrangement since asexuals are rare enough to make pairing up with another asexual difficult. (We're about 1% of the population.)
Just out of curiosity, and feel free to not answer, what gender would you class yourself?

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby ObsessoMom » Sat Jan 31, 2015 1:12 am UTC

As another asexual, I'll answer, if a bit belatedly.

My sex is female. My gender is also female. I look feminine. Asexual doesn't mean androgynous--it just means I don't experience sexual attraction to anyone, whether male or female.

I'm a wife (very happily married to my best friend, a heterosexual man, for twenty-one years) and a stay-at-home mom (for two kids, to both of whom I gave birth).

I enjoy having sex with my husband very much, because I enjoy everything we do together very much. He's great company, and I love him. I'm just not "in love with" him, in the same way that he is "in love with" me--i.e., he feels powerful erotic love for me; I feel powerful platonic love for him. I'm aroused by genital stimulation, but nothing else. Thinking about him, looking at him--even kissing him--doesn't arouse me.

My lack of sexual attraction to him, or anyone else, has nothing to do with how I perceive my gender, except in two ways.

First, unlike most women I know, I have never defined my self-worth, to any significant extent, by how attractive I am to others. Some of my dearest female friends have spent most of their lives in fear of rejection and loneliness, sometimes settling for a troubled relationship because they think that's better than no relationship at all, etc. [Edited to add: Women certainly don't have a monopoly on this kind of misery, but men are less likely to think that their physical attractiveness and/or sexual availability is the only thing that might prevent them from being Unwanted.] When they are not properly appreciated by others, many women attribute this injustice to the fact that they are not pretty enough, not thin enough, etc., to merit better treatment. Their insecurities make them disinclined to question the judgment of the person who has disrespected them. This is hard for me to wrap my mind around, but I've learned to see this self-loathing as something society conditions most women to adopt. Realizing this makes me extremely grateful for the fact that I would have been perfectly content living all by myself and never having kids. (I cannot speak for all asexuals, some of whom long for companionship and intimacy and family...but I'm sure that if I weren't asexual, I wouldn't have had such an I-don't-need-a-romantic-partner-to-make-me-fulfilled attitude.) I had the great luxury of marrying my husband simply because I thought it would be delightful to spend the rest of my life with such a fun guy...not because I dreaded the idea of celibacy, or thought I couldn't live without him.

And second, I feel like a bit of a misfit when I'm hanging out with other women and they suddenly start going ga-ga over some man (or woman) whom they find sexy, and seem to expect me to react the way they do. Nope, not interested, but don't let me spoil your fun.

As for the label "asexual"--I only learned of it a few years ago, immediately showed it to my husband, and we both laughed like crazy--"Yep!" We'd gotten along just fine without such a label, but it was nice to know that there are others like me. And other couples like us.

I hope that clears up some confusion. It may have only created more, heh.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby morriswalters » Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:04 am UTC

More information never hurts.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby krogoth » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:01 pm UTC

Actually that(asexual) is quiet interesting, I think I know someone somewhat like that.

I still find this other stuff somewhat confusing from time to time, as a straight cis male, I can only hope I'm sympathetic to the emotions of someone whom didn't match my preference. It can be hard to hold the tongue when the heart and mind are fighting. I find it easy to be open to people generally about these things, but if I found myself in such a relationship I find it much harder to know how I would feel.

Then again, the odds are rare, and even with out gender/sexuality issues relationships can be hard enough as is, I sometimes wonder if I should abstain from the party to ease my mind.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby KrytenKoro » Sat Mar 07, 2015 8:13 pm UTC

Very relevant article, for those who were flabbergasted by my assertion that science totes recognizes the existence of non-binary genders: http://www.theguardian.com/science/the- ... een-binary
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Ixtellor » Mon Mar 30, 2015 8:44 pm UTC

Answer to OP.

1) So that when your in a crowded room and trying to point someone out by saying "See that blonde lady over there? She works in accounting and ...."
Instead of:
"See that pigment challenged non-binary over there?"

Because its useful.

2) As to why there are so many labels now --- that probably just narcissism. I liked the testimonial about the asexual lady in this thread. People want to feel special and find different outlets for it and clearly some people have come up with the 'unique gender labels' path to more basic psychological needs.

3) I don't care what people call themselves and I am happy to call people whatever they wish, "a rose by any other name". But don't be offended if someone gets it wrong and don't expect people to say "The transfeminine standing over there spilled coffee all over Karen at the Christmas party."
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby elasto » Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:38 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:But don't be offended if someone gets it wrong and don't expect people to say "The transfeminine standing over there spilled coffee all over Karen at the Christmas party."

For me that misses the point: The point of this debate isn't to shift society from saying 'see that man over there' to 'see that asexual-transfemine over there'; The point (if there is one) is to shift to saying 'see that person over there' - thereby exhibiting sensitivity to the fact that people might not actually be the gender they appear.

Statements like 'see that person in the blue dress' or 'see that blonde with the glasses' are fine - because they are objective, descriptive terms; 'See that man over there' - despite appearing the same kind of statement - actually is not so.
Last edited by elasto on Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:42 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:41 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Statements like 'see that person in the blue dress'...

For the last time, THE DRESS IS WHITE AND GOLD.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:44 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
Ixtellor wrote:But don't be offended if someone gets it wrong and don't expect people to say "The transfeminine standing over there spilled coffee all over Karen at the Christmas party."

For me that misses the point: The point of these labels isn't to shift society from saying 'see that man over there' to 'see that asexual-transfemine over there' - it's to shift society to say 'see that person over there' - thereby showing sensitivity to the fact that people might not actually be the gender they appear.

Statements like 'see that person in the blue dress' or 'see that blonde with the glasses' are fine - because they are objective, descriptive terms; 'See that man over there' - despite appearing the same kind of statement - actually is not so.


If there is one apparent man among many others, it may be the most convenient form of address. Furthermore, it is highly likely to be correct. Perfect? Nah. But neither are other descriptive terms. Someone might say "look at that businessman over there", simply because that one fellow has a suit and looks the part. Right? Maybe not(and probably with a MUCH higher error rate than gendered descriptions), but it serves the purpose, and isn't meant in a perjorative or hostile fashion. Use of gender in a similar fashion should be fine.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby elasto » Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:46 pm UTC

Mighty Jalapeno wrote:For the last time, THE DRESS IS WHITE AND GOLD.

Ok ok, so color isn't always objectively descriptive either :D

Tyndmyr wrote:If there is one apparent man among many others, it may be the most convenient form of address. Furthermore, it is highly likely to be correct. Perfect? Nah. But neither are other descriptive terms. Someone might say "look at that businessman over there", simply because that one fellow has a suit and looks the part. Right? Maybe not(and probably with a MUCH higher error rate than gendered descriptions), but it serves the purpose, and isn't meant in a perjorative or hostile fashion. Use of gender in a similar fashion should be fine.

And obviously most of the time it will be fine. Even someone who is in fact misidentified will probably shrug it off - if only because they are so used to everyone getting it wrong.

But politeness costs nothing, right? It's like choosing the politically-correct term for someone's race or disability rather than using the term that was common when you were young but has now accrued negative baggage; Sure, most of the time you'll be fine whatever, but why not use the term that you know can't cause offence?

It puts me in mind of an incident that occurred when I was 10 or so. A visitor came to the door and said 'hello miss, are your parents around?'

As a boy I found it extremely jarring for someone to mistake me for a girl... For me at least, my sense of gender seems to be very deeply ingrained into my psyche and, despite having a terrible memory in general it's an incident I've never forgotten!

I am extremely fortunate that my gender happens to line up with my sex; I can't imagine what it must be like to live in the wrong body - and every day having that horribly uncomfortable, jarring feeling because I'm constantly being misidentified.

As I say, politeness costs nothing, and I see no harm in using objective descriptions (like 'see the person in the suit') over judgement calls (like 'see the businessman')

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby morriswalters » Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:31 am UTC

You have a difficult road to walk. gender is baked into the language in a lot of ways. For instance if you are male and say, "Look at that blond." you will more often than not, be understood to be referring to a women. Yet you have used no pronoun at all.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Mar 31, 2015 12:19 pm UTC

Yeah, that's not baked into language, that's just a combination of heteronormative and sexist assumptions. People whose hair color a man comments on are assumed to be female, because he's assumed to be straight and assumed to be talking about someone whose attractiveness he's judging.

People likewise make assumptions about such other gender-neutral words as "doctor" and "flight attendant" and "teacher" and "mathematician", which aren't baked into language but into the gendered assumptions those people make about the world itself.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby morriswalters » Tue Mar 31, 2015 12:55 pm UTC

Okay. I believe however that language is an agreement among people as to meaning with context. So the phrase look at that blond is a function of that agreement and that context. It may be and probably is sexist, but that doesn't change the point. If it were an independent construction then it would be as easy as banning the word. Elasto wants to use objective neutral terms to avoid gender bias. I agree, but I simply said that it is more complex than attacking certain phrasing.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby KrytenKoro » Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:05 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Okay. I believe however that language is an agreement among people as to meaning with context. So the phrase look at that blond is a function of that agreement and that context. It may be and probably is sexist, but that doesn't change the point. If it were an independent construction then it would be as easy as banning the word. Elasto wants to use objective neutral terms to avoid gender bias. I agree, but I simply said that it is more complex than attacking certain phrasing.

(Technically, since you spelled it "blond", you'd be understood to be talking about a man.)

If there's one blond man surrounded by red-headed women, "look at that blond" would get you the right person. Or if it's one blonde woman surrounded by red-headed men, it would still work.

As long as you choose an identifier that actually identifies the subject of your query, it should work.

All Elasto seems to be saying is that not relying on possibly faulty assumptions would result in less confusion and ambiguity, which is very nearly a truism, and should be non-controversial.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Mar 31, 2015 6:22 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:All Elasto seems to be saying is that not relying on possibly faulty assumptions would result in less confusion and ambiguity, which is very nearly a truism, and should be non-controversial.

Yeah, I'll be less confused if you say, "Look at that blond(e) over there," about a group of people containing only one with blond hair, than if you say, "Look at that blonde woman over there," about the same group where I know (or otherwise believe) the one person with blond hair is in fact a man. In the latter case I may assume you are being unclear or I am mistaken about which "over there" you're talking about.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Mar 31, 2015 6:40 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Yeah, that's not baked into language, that's just a combination of heteronormative and sexist assumptions. People whose hair color a man comments on are assumed to be female, because he's assumed to be straight and assumed to be talking about someone whose attractiveness he's judging.

People likewise make assumptions about such other gender-neutral words as "doctor" and "flight attendant" and "teacher" and "mathematician", which aren't baked into language but into the gendered assumptions those people make about the world itself.


The particular example was bad, but English does have significant gender assumptions baked in. Pronouns would be an obvious example where gender is normally included.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Mar 31, 2015 6:59 pm UTC

For pronouns, use they/them unless you're told otherwise. Which is probably what you already do with nonspecific individuals, prescriptivist peeving about "they is plural!" notwithstanding.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby morriswalters » Tue Mar 31, 2015 7:41 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:(Technically, since you spelled it "blond", you'd be understood to be talking about a man.)
Technically we were talking about speech, so how I spelled it is irrelevant. And I didn't say that what Elasto said was controversial, I simply said it wasn't quite as simple as it seems.

Maybe my world is different, but I don't think I have ever identified a male by his hair color. Sexist I know. That could be because I don't pay much attention to men in general unless for some reason I need to. But being sexist I do pay attention to people presenting as female, even if at this late date it is a purely intellectual pursuit. I wouldn't presume to know what anyone else does.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Mar 31, 2015 7:49 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:For pronouns, use they/them unless you're told otherwise. Which is probably what you already do with nonspecific individuals, prescriptivist peeving about "they is plural!" notwithstanding.


Be that as it may, it is difficult to ignore that a gender specific non-plural pronoun isn't in common use, and he/she are commonly used in a generic fashion. Particularly he, but I digress.

English has all kinds of things baked into it, unfortunately.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Mar 31, 2015 7:58 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:gender specific non-plural pronoun isn't in common use
I'm assuming you mean "gender nonspecific"? Because "he" and "she" are both gender specific non-plural pronouns.

And "they" is a gender nonspecific pronoun that has been in common non-plural use for centuries.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Mar 31, 2015 8:51 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:gender specific non-plural pronoun isn't in common use
I'm assuming you mean "gender nonspecific"? Because "he" and "she" are both gender specific non-plural pronouns.

And "they" is a gender nonspecific pronoun that has been in common non-plural use for centuries.


Ah, damn negatives. Yup, you've caught my meaning, though I worded it poorly.

Yeah, you or I might have ways of getting around the limitations of English, but the point that gendered stuff is embedded in the language as it is generally used is a fair one. Personally, I like "dude" as an informal generic term, but it's not *quite* generic either. Somewhat of a masculine connotation. And the brief 90s attempt at making "dudette" a thing was just awful. And of course, manufactured pronouns haven't really caught on.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby KrytenKoro » Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:00 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Maybe my world is different, but I don't think I have ever identified a male by his hair color. Sexist I know. That could be because I don't pay much attention to men in general unless for some reason I need to. But being sexist I do pay attention to people presenting as female, even if at this late date it is a purely intellectual pursuit. I wouldn't presume to know what anyone else does.

Then we've had the chance together to discover that your point of view isn't representative. We've both benefited here! Yay.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby morriswalters » Wed Apr 01, 2015 12:10 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:Then we've had the chance together to discover that your point of view isn't representative. We've both benefited here! Yay.
You haven't discovered anything. In most cases, at least that I can think of, the point of saying something like look at the blond over there, isn't about being correct about that persons gender, it is about using a visible heuristic to remove uncertainty about who I am referring to when conversing with someone whom is with me. And the better I know the person the briefer I'll be able to be. If I talk to someone whom I am unsure about there are already socially correct means of address that allow the other person to self identify and tell me how they want to be addressed. Like saying, "Hello, my name is morriswalters, and you are?" If Elasto was embarrassed by being mistaken for a female he isn't alone, kids are androgynous. But adults don't always apply courtesy to kids, even though they should. And if they did infer courtesy to them there wouldn't be a problem in most cases.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby KrytenKoro » Wed Apr 01, 2015 5:47 pm UTC

I'm not sure if you read the part I was actually responding to. Go back and read it again, stressing those first and last sentences.

Really let those sink in.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby morriswalters » Wed Apr 01, 2015 7:40 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:I'm not sure if you read the part I was actually responding to. Go back and read it again, stressing those first and last sentences.

Really let those sink in.
Why? I phrased it to give you the chance to see exactly what you expected to see. You saw it and we saved some time. You already thought it. So like I said you discovered nothing.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby KrytenKoro » Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:01 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:I'm not sure if you read the part I was actually responding to. Go back and read it again, stressing those first and last sentences.

Really let those sink in.
Why? I phrased it to give you the chance to see exactly what you expected to see. You saw it and we saved some time. You already thought it. So like I said you discovered nothing.

...okay, fine, we'll play that way.

Do you understand, as a facet of this discussion, that while you may not use "blond" to refer to men, and just because you don't pay attention to men, doesn't mean these things aren't worth paying attention to for anyone? That your experiences and points of view are not representative, so saying that you do not find a certain type of information interesting does not mean that it is, in fact, useless?

'cause that's pretty much the crux of this thread.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby morriswalters » Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:21 am UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:Do you understand, as a facet of this discussion, that while you may not use "blond" to refer to men, and just because you don't pay attention to men, doesn't mean these things aren't worth paying attention to for anyone?
Sure. Whatever works for you. But language is about communication, not the thing being communicated about. When I point out someone across a room to a companion I find it witless to care about the person I'm commenting on. The mechanics of the language used aren't about gender. It's about the communication between me and the listener. Making the listener understand. The only time the person under discussion needs to be given consideration is if they can hear.

If I was in court speaking of someone whom I didn't know, the the impersonal pronoun would be the proper form of speech given that I didn't know the persons name. In the way I just used it. Given that, then two men together who know one another well, when one is causally pointing out someone who appears to be female, might say see that "Blond" over there. And expect that to be understood as that "Blond" women. This is what I mean. Its baked in to the expectations of the two men. In a different context the messaging would be different. And a different heuristic would be in play. In point of fact, in most cases I never point people out unless they draw attention or if I'm looking for them specifically and have a companion. If you are trying to remove gender bias you have to change the underlying bias that drives it. Using an impersonal pronoun isn't sufficient. And this is in effect what I said when I responded to Elasto's post.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:45 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:The only time the person under discussion needs to be given consideration is if they can hear.
So you're the type of shithead that's fine with people using ethnic slurs as long as none of those people are within earshot?

two men together who know one another well, when one is causally pointing out someone who appears to be female, might say see that "Blond" over there. And expect that to be understood as that "Blond" women. This is what I mean. Its baked in to the expectations of the two men.
Pretty sure "who know one another well" was never part of your initial claim. Adding that bit changes it from being a "baked in" feature of language to simply being a baked in expectation of some particular pair of well-acquainted men.

If you are trying to remove gender bias you have to change the underlying bias that drives it. Using an impersonal pronoun isn't sufficient.
Point out one single person who has ever said that gender bias will be removed completely just by using an impersonal pronoun?
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Cradarc » Thu Apr 02, 2015 4:21 am UTC

I think it's kind of ironic when a thread discussing how to address people respectfully contains insults.

As a straight male, I don't care if someone refers to me as "she", "madame", or even "it", as long as it is done in a polite and respectful manner. Sure it will take some time to get used to, but if nobody is associating a negative connotation to the words I'm being called, why should it matter?
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby maydayp » Thu Apr 02, 2015 7:42 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:I think it's kind of ironic when a thread discussing how to address people respectfully contains insults.

As a straight male, I don't care if someone refers to me as "she", "madame", or even "it", as long as it is done in a polite and respectful manner. Sure it will take some time to get used to, but if nobody is associating a negative connotation to the words I'm being called, why should it matter?

Because that's your privilege, not to get misgender frequently. Or have your gender constantly questioned. It's Erasure. It is a big issue for those who do not are not cis gendered (or for those who look gender ambiguous)

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby leady » Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:53 am UTC

Out of curiosity what is the reasoning that society at large should defer to self categorisations and by what criterion should such a categorisation be deemed valid enough for social enforcement?

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby morriswalters » Thu Apr 02, 2015 11:10 am UTC

@gmalivuk
Why would you imply that I'm a shithead? It pretty consistently happens. You have other options. Ignoring me and writing me off as some type of oddball or maniac being one of them. You could even approach moderation and have me banned. In your own way you are no different then a man that uses a homophobic slur because he sees two men holding hands. You don't like what I post so I become a shithead. Or douche or whatever else rolls off your fingers when you type. Beyond this I don't see any point in responding to you anymore.


To anyone else who cares, the point I was attempting to make was that the heuristics that two people use to isolate a face in the cloud shouldn't be classed as anything more than what they are, shortcuts, with no meaning or intent, other than to isolate that face in the crowd to the person you are communicating with. How much info you have to pass to do that isolation is a product of how well the two people can communicate. For instance two people speaking no common language might not be able to do so at all. Misgendering becomes when there are meaningful connections between the people speaking.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 02, 2015 11:51 am UTC

My own personal take:

I would argue that it comes down to specific meaning and assumptions. If you, literally, are only meaning it as a distinguisher, in the sameway that you might say, "the person in the gray suit", then I don't believe this is wrong - you may be mistaken about the suit colour also, we aren't infallible (I'm not asserting gender is the best distinguisher, or should be the go to one, though, just to be clear, just that it can be used innocently).

On the other hand, if you're oblivious to alternative possibilities, or consider it your right, in some fashion, to label people - I'm not sure how this part works, I have a lot of trouble with implicit meaning - then I think that based upon that implicit assumption, you would not be in the right.

In analogy, I don't see a problem with describing someone as black if it is used descriptively, it would be problematic if it contained an assumption about people of that skin colour.

If someone can innocently use words is another question - in other words, a label used purely to describe, or distinguish, even if wrong, does not seem an unfair usage of it, nor wrong on its own.

In shorter words: if you're a respectful person about what you're doing and are gracious when corrected, or wrong, I don't think you're being out of line using a common construct when it is of value to use (I'm prone to overspecifying, so I might say, "the man in the gray suit, with red hair, who is shorter than usual", I don't feel bad about any of that, it is a reasonable description of what appears before me, that would be the reasonable data to pass on - as it is how I am distinguishing them to begin with).

*Perhaps this clarifies: if "he" is meant as "Has statistically masculine features as appears to me" vs "the person of male gender". I would argue that one can mean only the first, and that is not wrong to mean.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:43 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:@gmalivuk
Why would you imply that I'm a shithead?

You implied that when you said we should only consider other people if they are within earshot.

To anyone else who cares, the point I was attempting to make was that the heuristics that two people use to isolate a face in the cloud shouldn't be classed as anything more than what they are, shortcuts, with no meaning or intent, other than to isolate that face in the crowd to the person you are communicating with. How much info you have to pass to do that isolation is a product of how well the two people can communicate. For instance two people speaking no common language might not be able to do so at all. Misgendering becomes when there are meaningful connections between the people speaking.
And my point is that there's most definitely meaning and intent beyond the mere specification of a particular individual.

leady wrote:Out of curiosity what is the reasoning that society at large should defer to self categorisations and by what criterion should such a categorisation be deemed valid enough for social enforcement?
The reasoning is that I know myself better than you know me.

@Forest Goose: A person may be able to intend only the first, which doesn't make them a bad person, but words often carry unintended meaning, and so it's still a *problem* to say certain things.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:58 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:@Forest Goose: A person may be able to intend only the first, which doesn't make them a bad person, but words often carry unintended meaning, and so it's still a *problem* to say certain things.


Excuse the, perhaps, extreme naivete, but would this be analogous to how you shouldn't describe someone as "overweight"*, even if it is purely, and innocently, descriptive (I've made this accident, innocuously, and realize that it is not socially acceptable) - if yes, then I will, merely, say that I wish we lived in a society where we could speak innocently, and I will curtail my usage/modify it. If not, could you elaborate further.

*I attach no value to body weight, so please, no one, read me as trying to link up gender differences to something that might be considered negative by some.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby leady » Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:20 pm UTC

The reasoning is that I know myself better than you know me.


I'm not sure how that clarifies things - your own mind is unknowable and without a basis for examination, its impossible to work out falsehoods. Further most categorisations are based on objective things rather subjective viewpoints (fuzzy edge boundaries aside) and self definition is not overly helpful in practically any scenario if it doesn't align with the observations of others. Categorisations accentuate objective differences to convey information, convincing people to ignore what their brains are telling them I think is onto a loser. You can convince a colour blind chap that red and green are perceived differently by others very easily, convincing someone that isn't that they are both a single colour "gred" is very hard.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Autolykos » Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:28 pm UTC

English seems to be in a pretty good position with the singular "they" (assuming it is as well accepted as some here claim). But in most other languages, there is no such thing and addressing someone with the neutral pronoun is pretty universally seen as insulting (compared to implying that you can't tell their gender being only a little bit insulting). So you have a less than 5% chance of pissing someone off when using the "obvious" gendered pronoun and a be fine otherwise, compared to a 95% chance of pissing them off and a 5% chance of just coming over a bit awkward/confused with the neutral one. And then there are languages that don't even have a neutral, so you're just forced to guess.
Well, and then there's some people inventing new pronouns - but they can't seem to decide on one, and everyone outside these circles will just be confused if you use them. So I'll just treat them as a way to signal your membership to a tribe, and since it's not my tribe, I won't use them.


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