Pronoun Trouble

An exerpt from a Bugs Bunny skit, pulled from a Wikipedia page: 

Bugs: It’s true, Doc; I’m a rabbit alright. Would you like to shoot me now or wait ’til you get home?
Daffy: Shoot him now! Shoot him now!
Bugs: You keep outta this! He doesn’t have to shoot you now!
Daffy: He does so have to shoot me now! [to Elmer] I demand that you shoot me now!
[Elmer raises his gun. As Daffy sticks his tongue out at Bugs, he is shot. Daffy walks back over to Bugs, gunsmoke pouring out of his nostrils]
Daffy: [to Bugs] Let’s run through that again.
Bugs: Okay.
Bugs: [deadpan] Wouldja like to shoot me now or wait till ya get home?
Daffy:[similarly] Shoot him now, shoot him now.
Bugs: [as before] You keep outta this, he doesn’t have to shoot you now.
Daffy Duck: [re-animated] Hah! That’s it! Hold it right there! [to audience] Pronoun trouble.

It’s funny (and perhaps sinister) when Bugs Bunny does it.  But how much evil can be attributed to pronouns in real life? Many people who aspire to the ideals of inclusiveness and sensitivity seem to think that pronouns can and are being used for evil.  They think that the use of the term “man” to denote humankind and “he” in reference to a hypothetical person somehow marginalizes women and causes people to think of them as non-persons. 

This is a mistake rooted in the overemphasis on the environmental development theories of the human mind.  We do not regard women in a negative light because of our pronoun usage.  We regard them in a negative light becuase they fucking NAG us! No amount of tinkering with the English language (or any other Maoist type cultural engineering) is going to change that, the root cause is nagging and they can’t be blamed for that as it’s in their nature. 

Chicks who know me, I’m not really blanket accusing you all of nagging, I’m just trying to make a point or at least I think I am.  The point is that many, if not most, of the differences between men and women are not the result of cultural indoctrination (which would require an equal and countervailing indictrination), they are the result of subtle differences in our nature.

The nature/nurture debate may seem like a small point at first blush but it is a very important one.  It must be emphasized that if we as a society are promoting initiatives that are aimed at addressing inequities and we are of the wrong mind about it, it almost certainly is a waste of time as the proposed solutions won’t have any basis in fact and the very issues they are meant to address might not even be inequities at all. How do we address the fact that there is an overrepresentation of women in the teaching profession and that men are overrepresented in the “harder” sciences? Answer:  If this disparity is based on innate differences between men and women, then you don’t “address” it at all, it just “is”.  For some good reading on the question of whether these innate differences actually exist go here.

The point is if studies can show valid conclusions that perhaps make us uncomfortable there is nothing to be gained by sticking our heads in the sand (to do nothing).  Diverting attention from the real issue by attacking language (doing the wrong thing) is even worse because it involves both a diversion from the real facts and the demonization of innocent word usage.  If there is an issue to be addressed you should either deal with it rationally by addressing the facts or you might choose to not deal with it at all, but under no circumstances should you be fucking with my pronouns.  Any person who does that, well he’s just dumb!

6 Responses to “Pronoun Trouble”

  1. ted says:

    Agreed. I’m annoyed by people whose grammar and vocabulary is so crappy they can’t reflect their feelings accurately. But I can overlook pedestrian mistakes such as was-were, or minor spelling/punctuation errors. I notice, but I don’t feel compelled to make a big deal out of it. Language is a tool–a means to an end…not an end itself.

  2. Citizen Quasar says:

    “I’m annoyed by people whose grammar and vocabulary is so crappy they can’t reflect their feelings accurately,” should read: “I’m annoyed by people whose grammar and vocabulary are so crappy they can’t reflect their feelings accurately.”

    ‘Kinda’ like when you go to the oriental buffet and the sign says “Steam rice” instead of “Steamed rice.

    ‘Sorry. I just couldn’t resist. Oh wait! Is there a dangling participle in the original statement?

  3. Citizen Quasar says:

    Part 2: (back from the bar)

    “What are the bugles for”
    “Said Files on Parade?”
    “To turn you out. To turn you out,” the Colour Seargent said.”

    “Why do the bugles play so loud said “Files on parade.”

    “‘Cause there’re hanging’ Danny Deever in the Morning!”

    I love Rudyard Kipling as a poet.


  4. Citizen Quasar says:

    My bad. It goes like this:

    “What are the bugles blowin’ for?” said Files-on-Parade.”

    “To turn you out, to turn you out”, the Colour-Sergeant said. ”

    “What makes you look so white, so white?” said Files-on-Parade.”

    “I’m dreadin’ what I’ve got to watch”, the Colour-Sergeant said. ”

    “For they’re hangin’ Danny Deever, you can hear the Dead March play,”

    “The regiment’s in ‘ollow square — they’re hangin’ him to-day;”

    “They’ve taken of his buttons off an’ cut his stripes away, ”

    “An’ they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’. ”



  5. Citizen Quasar says:

    Yeah! That’s some kick assed military drum-work if you want to play along with it.

  6. Citizen Quasar says:

    Thank you.

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