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Ze Didn’t Start The Fire

An old quote just brought to our attention, here. Consider the case of Senator Toby Hill-Meyer, encountered in full performance-art flow:

All performers identified with more than one race, challenging the idea that they should fit neatly into one ethnic category. But Hill-Meyer, a women’s and gender studies major, also questioned the practice of fitting into a single gender category. Hill-Meyer has requested for the purposes of this article that the Emerald refer to Hill-Meyer using the gender-neutral pronouns “ze” for “he” and “hir” for “him.”

“I’ve had stories that I needed to tell for awhile,” ze said. “When it comes down to it, the pronouns that people use for me is not the point. I don’t feel that any gendered pronoun is appropriate for me. I’m trying to get the recognition that people see a more complex person.”

Complex, indeed! And so very, very deep. I really think ze’s on to something here: the pronoun hegemony has beaten “us” down for too long. I can only applaud the ODE’s sensitivity, and pledge to refer to Hill-Meyer as “ze” and “hir” as often as I possibly can. And I will, believe me.

  1. Lauren says:

    Also, Timbo, I have the same problem with the pronunciation of “hir” as compared to “her.”
    And Jan, I love WZF! Awesome.

  2. Lauren says:

    Olly, I can’t believe you’re supporting using “them” as a non-gendered singular pronoun. I’m disappointed.

    I personally advocate the use of passive voice, “it,” “one,” or, if I must, “he/she” when referring to a generic person or a person of unknown gender. But though I am trying to respect Toby’s (there’s your genitive, Olly) wishes, well, we *know* what gender Toby is. Also, we could just constantly refer to Toby as Toby and thereby avoid pronouns completely …

  3. Timbo says:

    How do you pronouce ‘hir’? My mouth wants to say it just like I’d say ‘her’. Or maybe ‘here’. So how would you tell the difference? Either way, here’s a rule of thumb: If people get your new word confused with one of the old words it’s meant to replace, then you’ve made a poor choice for a new word.

    Also, might be of interest. It’s by the folks that bring us, the best idea in recent memory.

  4. Jan says:

    So, clearly he’s a he if his parents say he’s a he. But he wants to be a ze despite his he status. Therefore, what ze has actually accomplished in the end is identifying as a he — and misspelling it.

    Out of respect for hir, I will use the gender-neutral form of this: WZF?!?

  5. Olly says:

    Parents? Fascists, more like! They’re trying to dictate his – shit, hang on a second – trying to dictate the gender identity belonging to hir!

    (See what I mean? We really need a genitive here.)

  6. Mene says:

    (After reading the actual link)…hell, one of HM’s mothers calls him a “him.”

    Problem solved: Ask the parents.

  7. Mene says:

    Yes, because the english language isn’t confusing enough already, we at the University of Oregon are fully committed to making everyone’s head hurt just that much more.

    Curse you, ASUO pawns.

  8. Olly says:

    Gosh, you typed the whole alphabet.

    I can certainly understand not wanting to be called “it”. “They”, I think, would be non-gendered without being non-human, although it would be clunky – and it still wouldn’t make us sound very “complex”, would it?

    Committed as I am to supporting Hill-Meyer’s pronounical wishes, though, ze has left me slightly confused. What’s the genitive form? Or are we left with constructions like “the hilarity ensuing from the ridiculous made-up word belonging to hir”? Because that’s going to make things tricky.

    (We’re going to need a bigger boat! With some more words in it!)

  9. Timothy says:

    Jan: OSPIRG, Anything done by the Cultural Forum ever.

    Nongendered style: I don’t see what the big fucking problem is, we already have a nongendered pronoun in English, “it.” That’s right, if you’re not satisfied with “he” or “she” or “him” or “her”, then you can just get stuck with plain old “it”, you do not get to invent words you fucking jokers. Kleckner and his precious LGBTQABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ agenda be damned.

  10. Jan says:

    Laaaaaaaaaaaaaame! Politically correct schmolitcally correct.

    On that subject, though, I have it on good authority that ASUO spent nearly $5,000 to hire the guy who organized that “My Own Story” event. That’s about, oh, $5,000 for every person sitting in the audience! It leaves just one question: what incredibly ridiculous thing can ASUO possibly spend money on to top THAT?

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