Gender Neutrality, my buttocks!

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You know what I don't understand? The feminist movement!

But you know what I don't understand even more? Those subtle nuances that emphasize, reestablish, affirm, legitimize, and defend gender biases.

Let me explain.

Does 'They' always mean plural?
Something that has always bothered me is the use of 'he' whenever someone is referring an individual representing a group.

For example, let's say you're reading a usability document where you might find something like "...The user navigates to the page. He then clicks on the 'read more' button..."

Don't see what needs to be changed? Keep reading.

I would correct that line to read, "...The user navigates to the page. They then click on the...".

To which I have been told that:
1. I don't understand grammar and that
2. 'they' is used for an action done by multiple people and not when I am feeling particularly sensitive about feminism.

What the badwords!

In another instance, I was told that "it ruins the aesthetics of the sentence" and to "stop being so politically correct all the time".

Yup. That happened. Since when did being inclusive get reserved by the politicians?

Not done yet.   

 I was helping someone edit their MBA application and to bring home a point they were trying to make, I suggested adding some words to the tune of, "...which can have a long-term impact on humankind."

The person very politely asked me why I said that. I explained that we needed to provide a motive for their actions in that project. To which I was told quite confidently that it should then be 'mankind', not 'humankind'.

Apparently, using the word 'humankind' there "semantically signifies" that they did the project for charity instead of being paid for it. I was left speechless by this.

Which dictionary were they on? When I said, with equal confidence, that that wasn't the case and to please justeffinggoogleit to find the following meaning...

...I was dismissed with "now you are just nitpicking".


Let's pull ourselves away from words that have the power to subtly highlight biases and to... toilets.

I was at an Indian airport restroom recently and got to witness this scene. The ladies restroom was quite empty, with me at the mirror, a janitor lady cleaning up the back of the stalls, and a lady standing by the stalls texting on her phone. Someone walked in and walked past the texting lady to open the stall door next to her that was left ajar.

It all happened at the same time. The lady let out a loud 'OH!' and the texting lady looked up with her hand up saying "Excuse me...", and you could hear a kid calling "Mummy!" After repeatedly saying sorry to the inattentive mother, the lady hastily got into the next stall. Now, a minute later, the little boy, who looked like he was about 7-years old, came out of the stall and ran crying to his now indignant mother.

At this point, the janitor lady walked up to the mother, who was trying to pacify her son that had been walked in on, and said in Hindi, "Ma'am, there's a family toilet at the start of the corridor. Please use that next time when you are with your child."

A common sight in India is seeing someone ignore and dismiss cleaning staff with a wave of their hand. And, the offended mother did that to the janitor lady. But she (the janitor lady) wasn't having any of it. She took another step closer and said, "Ma'am, this is the ladies room and we don't allow young boys in here. I allowed you because you were the only ones here but if you were to walk in with your son to any of the ladies restrooms at the airport, you would be asked to leave and go to the family room."

Realizing that the janitor lady was just following rules, the mother said, "I haven't had any problems before. [another dismissive hand gesture] Anyway, those family rooms are meant for people whose babies need their diapers changed."

The janitor lady clearly had better things to do than listen to a lady whining and said in a no-nonsense voice, "Ma'am. It's written on the door of the family room who all can enter. With pictures." Took a step away then turned back, "It's for anyone who needs to use the restroom." And, walked away.

Boom. Mic drop.

Not that this was another cis-trans episode of South Park but even something as gender-neutral and inclusive as a family restroom got labeled so succinctly as being meant specifically for a small group of people rather than for everyone.

Shakin'. Mah. Head.  

Clothes maketh the man. And the woman.
Or, do they?

It's comically baffling to me how often I hear the words 'women empowerment' in daily conversation. It doesn't matter whether it's a guy or a lady or anybody else saying it, it usually is in direct contrast to their actions.

It was Halloween and I was in sunny California that was by now turning slightly chilly. I was getting a coffee with an Indian friend who is very vocal about feminism and writes regularly on "women empowerment".

We were about to go get dressed for the evening Halloween festivities (I dressed up as Temperance Brennan from Bones -- yup, that happened -- and she was a pirate) when two of our guy friends walked in with their costumes on. One of them was wearing a long beautiful dress that looked totally badass. I was gushing about the dress and how amazing it looked on him but for some reason, my friend couldn't get past the fact that he was wearing a dress.

She just kept asking him repeatedly -- to the point of being embarrassing -- why exactly did he think of wearing a dress for Halloween. He took it in stride and replied enthusiastically each time saying, "because it is fun".

After we parted from him, I glared at her for making the scene so awkward. She didn't get why I was angry. She just shrugged her shoulders and said, "I just think it's weird he's wearing a dress. What's wrong with that? I wish I had that dress though."

 I was at a Flamenca class looking fly with my new steel-tipped shoes on to tap away on the hardwood floors. Interestingly, in a class of 22, there were only three women including the instructor.

While we were waiting for the class to start in ten minutes, I got the attention with people complimenting on my new shoes. One of the guys who often talked about "being an ally for women" (his words) also complimented me on my shoes and added, "isn't it a little too high?" I replied that it wasn't and asked, "would you like to try it on to see?"

 I wasn't expecting the loud gasp and an emphatic "CHHEE", followed by "real men don't wear shoes like that!"

That did it. I couldn't control my reaction and said, "HEEEELLL NO! Ain't nobody gonna dis mah shoes to-day!" He looked confused (mostly by my sassy posture and finger shaking side to side) and unsure.

A small crowd gathered. I still wasn't done.

After a choice speech, I just ended with, "Excuse YOU!"

Said. It. All.

Ray, out! Peace!