Language is the last to evolve

Some conversation during the holidays has replayed in my mind as someone I care about has prompted some discussions about gender identity and pronouns.

I believe I am considered one of the older members of Generation X, which carries with it a certain laissez-faire, you-do-you attitude of acceptance that perhaps did not exist in prior generations. After all, my generation grew up watching Michael Jackson don sequins and one glove, while also getting paler with every passing year.

AIDS came on the scene in the eighties, and it led to a lot more visibility for homosexual people and while initial discussions about the “gay cancer” may have continued dark judgments on some people for their sexuality, it also allowed more people to talk about various specialities more openly.

Fast forward now 30-plus years (how can I be approaching 50, how???) and gender identity is a topic appearing more and more in our society.

Now this is not a discussion of the legitimacy of cisgender versus transgender. I was journaling this morning, because someone in my family is traveling through this maze of how to pronoun oneself, and I realized—

This is just as much a feminist issue as it is a gender one. I struggle to see how a pronoun could cause discomfort or offense, because in my mind I don’t believe your biological sex and your pronouns should influence who you are in any way— not how you dress, who you sleep with, what your job is, what your family looks like, how much money you make, how much respect you receive.

But in the social construct of our universe, it does. I know it does.

So, the issue to me is a larger one. Why are we still in this day-and-age classifying people by their sexual organs? Language is often both the quickest part of society to evolve and one of the last things to change.

I still don’t quite feel natural using “they” as a gender neutral term as it implies the plural. But one cannot refer to people as “it.” So that leads to a need to refine pronouns.

Is it necessary to identify someone by their sexual organs? Do we need to know the second we meet them what body parts they have? Would a more generic term change how we view others? Would it change who we were sexually attracted to?

Just pondering.

And from the feminist perspective— if names and pronouns become less gendered wouldn’t society have to equalize and end various forms of discrimination? The traditional markers would fade and it would take longer to learn certain factors about a person.

Monday food for thought.

Feminists: What were they thinking? An Original Netflix Documentary

“There eyes remind us that the challenge is still there.”

Lily Tomlin talking about Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe in “Gentleman Prefer Blondes.”

So many women. So many epiphanies. So many stories.

“They look free. You want to be like them. You want to do you.”

The word feminist is being replaced by specific struggles— equal pay, equal representation in film.

So many reminders that too many people are still not respected for who they are. So many things that have not changed.

Jane Fonda stating decades ago that a healthy society should be in perpetual change. Jane Fonda today. She talks about herself being “active” and “masculine,” because if you want to be a success, you have to be a boy.

But there is a power in being female— the activists say. Yet, your role as a female is to watch the boys.

Sometimes you have to reject what the world says, and trust your own experience.

And these women featured here had a broad range of experience in major 20th century events… McCarthyism. The Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima. Immigration. Civil Rights and Civil Disobedience.

Women tend to be the peacekeepers. Women understand the larger picture and the fabric of how it all interacts.

Oppression of women rooted in religion.

These women have so many important messages but they are strung together with a stream of consciousness thread that make it difficult to watch for more than a few minutes.

Yet many of the messages are deeply powerful. But like the “Becoming Jane Roe” documentary, it’s a tad dull.

I made it through 30 minutes, which makes me sad, because they have such good things to say.

I blame the Freddies

My teenager will be the first to tell you that I think too much about things no one else will challenge.

And I’m about to go on a rant. This rant might make me unpopular in some circles.

And I blame it all on the Freddies.

Now, if you are not from the Lehigh Valley, you probably don’t know what the Freddies are. Basically, a local non-profit theater and the regional television station created a competition for high school musicals. (For more info, visit State Theatre for the Arts.)

In my opinion, this created a “need” for schools to do productions outside their range in order to look good in the local media. Our public schools should not have to prove the value of their arts programs via a popularity contest aired on TV.

Today the teenager and I went to see “Once Upon a Mattress” (the princess and the pea musical) at a fairly small local high school. The first thing that shocked me was paid adult musicians in the pit. It’s a high school play. Why aren’t there high school musicians? Isn’t it cheating to use paid musicians?

The kids did an amazing job, but the show seemed like some of the kids were out of their range or needed another week of rehearsal time. Which, in their defense again, it is very hard to pace a high school show to peak at the right time.

But I can’t find any fault with the performers. They gave their hearts and souls and full effort.

I just wish schools would stop pushing big production musicals if the student body isn’t equipped to do it. And so I blame the Freddies.

Now, for my second rant. This one is attacking the show from a feminist perspective.

The director says in her letter printed in the program that she was excited to do such a classic theatre piece with a strong female lead. She also praises the script for its themes, that people will find acceptance and love despite their quirks.


This play is based on the premise that a woman has to pass tests and prove herself to be loved and accepted. That even other women will test a woman’s intentions and doubt her worth. Meanwhile, the father (the mute King Sextimus) chases every female character he encounters and the audience laughs.

And the Queen is hardest of all when it comes to accepting a mate for her son. She dreams up the impossible tests and only allows the marriage when she is suddenly struck mute.

She also gives a long monologue about how it’s fine that she be miserable in marriage and that’s her duty as a true princess.

Not to mention, we’re laughing at a play extolling arranged marriage. Now in the end, the castle staff fixes the test so the woman the prince loves will pass. Prince Dauntless then marries for love.

But he doesn’t marry for love.

He marries because she’s a princess. In the end, love didn’t unite them. Her princess status did. Which maybe you can argue because the Queen tries to stop it and Dauntless yells at his mother and insists he’s going to do it anyway. In my view, he waited too long to make that point valid.

Back-handed compliment


An older man came to the cafe today and bought a pizza from me. He wasn’t a particularly attractive older man but he obviously found himself witty.

He paid for a $5.61 lunch with $20.61. I automatically said, “$15 is your change.”

I typed it into the register and as I grabbed his bills, he said, 

“I’m proud of you.”

I ignored him.

“Don’t you want to know why I’m proud of you?” he asked.

“I believe I know.”

“You made change without using the register.”

Yeah, and I also count all the cash sales for the entire store. 

“I counted $22,000 this morning,” I said.

He left.

He meant it as a compliment. But it stung. It stung because he would have never said it to a person his age or to a man.

He said it to me because I look younger than my forty-plus years. I’m cute and I’m petite. And I work retail.

And I’m a woman.

So therefore it must be surprising that I can do math.

Never mind that I can speak more than one language. Or that I have two bachelors degrees and am working on a master’s in world history. Or that I used to run a newsroom. Or that I’ve traveled to (and fallen on) four of the seven continents.