Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Gender Inclusive Thinking and Reading



One of the first things that offended me when I found out that other people who believed in God believed that God was The Lord (masculine) and He/His were interchangeable with God.  I was still in the scatological humor stage at the time and gleefully referred to God as Sheheit.  Making myself unpopular in some circles, but most of my friends were at the most religious agnostics, so I didn't catch much flack.  And when I did I would always correct myself to Hesheit.  I outgrew the scatology but still refused to even think of God as He.  I invented the gender inclusive pronouns some of you have seen here Hesh and Herm very early in life, and discovered that they really helped me think about a supernatural power in a sympathetic way that was impossible with the testosterone poisoned "He."  Even trying to insert God in place of the male pronoun every time didn't work too well.  As the testosterone is frequently implied by context.

By college I had learned to think of everyone as hesh rather than he or she even when it was important to tell the difference.  It was the first step to radical humanism as once I began to think of people as hesh it was hard to create differences along any lines since the major pervasive division on gender lines carried over from the patriarchal social system we inherited from God was obliterated in my mind.  When you can't even think in gender terms, differentiation on other human variables is nearly impossible.  Try thinking about that "other" person without gender and note what it does to your mind.  

For the record, I was a strictly heterosexual male as interested in the hormonal needs only satisfied by a heterosexual female as anybody else.  But thinking of a woman as hesh in spite of the obvious delightful differences, did in fact change the way I related to women from the first contact in class or on the street to very intense relationships.  Even my parenting partner was early on a partner with benefits rather than a sexual person.   

When reading scientific literature I never noticed the scientist's name by policy until it was necessary for reference and even then as a footnote on the back of the index card.  Yep, I used them.  Any gender related references were automatically changed to hesh/herm mentally and on the card.   I learned a lot that way.  Some highly recommended papers turned to crap when the DWM was turned into hesh. Or LM for that matter. I have since changed policy a bit as the cutting edge scientists in my family educated me that for a woman to succeed in any meritocracy they had to be twice as good as the average male.  It follows that an accepted paper by a woman has twice as good a chance of being worth reading as one by the average man.  Similarly for professional choices.  Even though I think of them as hesh in the interview I will give interview preference to a woman given a bunch of equivalent CVs or Resumes.  

I have recently begun to apply the same thinking to reading and rereading fiction.  I mentally reassign a gender ambiguous name to the major characters and thinking of all as hesh.  In the mandatory sex scenes some role reversals are needed but it is surprising how often they are not.  It is amusing to think of a sex partner as trans occasionally.