On Monday, Cartoon Network took to Twitter to school youngsters on identity and respect:
“Here’s to not only normalizing gender pronouns, but respecting them, too. Whether you use he/she/them or something else, we acknowledge and LOVE you!”
The tweet — which points to the National Black Justice Coalition’s Gender Justice Toolkit — also features a comic strip of kids.
“Examples of pronouns are she/her, they/them, and ze/zir!” it points out.
We can’t tell someone’s gender just by looking at them, and shouldn’t assume we know. There are many gender identities beyond “girl” or “boy.” Some people don’t identify as any gender!
The cartoon depicts two children meeting:
“Hi! My name is Kam. My pronouns are they/them.”
“I’m Alex! Mine are they/them too! I feel seen.”
A third kiddo learns: “Wow! I thought there was only she/her and he/him.”
She notes, “Your pronouns reflect…you!”
As for Kam, them/they feels safe:
“When people use my pronouns, I feel respected, safe, and included.”
One child states, “It’s a relief to know people who affirm who I am.”
Here's to not only normalizing gender pronouns, but respecting them, too 💖 Whether you use he/she/them or something else, we acknowledge and LOVE you! Toolkit 👉 https://t.co/ZbhthybrdC
— Cartoon Network (@cartoonnetwork) December 14, 2020
As for the Gender Toolkit, the linked page instructs, “Words matter in profound and palpable ways.”
It goes on to quote Malcolm X:
In 1962, Malcolm X reminded us, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman.” … This toolkit has been designed to demand an end to the violence against Black women and girls. The first way to protect, uplift, and empower Black women and girls is to deconstruct and unpack the way violent and oppressive language is used against Black women and girls. … A powerful way to think about this in practice is to acknowledge that when we say “women and girls” we must account for all women and girls, including all Black cisgender, transgender, women and girls. … We must remember that our Black transgender siblings face gender-based violence simply for existing as themselves.
The Kit’s Terminology Guide provides definitions of words such as “gender non-conforming” and “intersectionality,” as well as a list of Terms to Avoid.
Here are a few words to whack:
- Biological Sex
- Gender Identity Disorder or Gender Dysphoria
Last but not least: “New or Chosen Gender” — NBJC explains, “These terms imply that an individual’s gender was not always their gender or that the gender was chosen rather than in existence.”
Back to the comic strip, Cartoon Network asserts, “Using someone’s pronouns shows respect. We all need to be seen and loved for who we are.”
The Toolkit is correct — words do matter.
Apropos, America’s message to its young sure has changed. For a very long time, conventional wisdom confirmed, “Words will never hurt you.”
Update: “You’ll be hurt unless everyone uses certain words.”
Of course, the culture’s initial pronoun promotion came via some who believe they’re the opposite of their sex.
But it seems to me we’re well beyond that: Our language is now taking cues from social media and online gaming — youngsters are being told to pick their enunciated emojis.
Putting any notion of sex/gender identity aside, if I may say so, your pronouns aren’t “who you are.” In fact, no verbal affirmation from another human being is who you are.
Who you are is defined by what you say and do. And the character from which those choices are made.
If you’re looking for affirmation from others — and if that’s your metric for quality of life — you’re investing concern in something that won’t fill the void.
A long time ago, human beings were runnin’ ’round, naked in the woods. There were no pronouns.
Pronouns were invented to reference sex in language. It might have been that language never developed them.
So if you’re thinking you’re defined by pronouns — or by anyone’s words at all — you’re looking to the wrong signifiers in life.
Your value as a human being isn’t based on what you receive from others, but what you give — that was common perception before our Likes/Retweets world came to pass.
Now, it seems we’re all desperate for the dopamine.
At any rate, Cartoon Network’s certainly not alone. The language revolution is upon us, and it’s not stopping any time soon.
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