I dunno, I like Senses Fail as much as all the other formerly-emo-high-school-kids my age, but a song like this loses some of it’s urgency when you record it as well as modern technology allows you to. Making it sound betters makes it feel worse. At best this is a curiosity, at worst a sterilization.
Okay, a bit more on why I’m so down on gendered pronouns!
WHAT’S A PRONOUN?
(Source is this weird make-your-own-bingo site. I don’t know how you would play this game.)
Pronouns are words like he, she, them, it, etc. They’re words that take the place of people, so we can say “Ryan sauntered into the beachhouse. His pecs were so interesting! He always suspected as much” instead of “Ryan sauntered into the beachhouse. Ryan’s pecs were so interesting! Ryan always suspected as much”.
They are useful when you don’t want to sound like a robot.
WHAT’S A GENDERED PRONOUN?
A pronoun that tells you what the gender of the person is! He and she are two of them. They is genderless, while it suggests (to many people) a lack of humanity, and with it a lack of gender (as distinct from just not having it specified). One person might get mad if you call them “it”. Another person might get mad if you call their pets “it”.
DON’T WE ALREADY HAVE GENDER-FREE PRONOUNS?
Aha, caught me there, didn’t you? I said “One person might get mad if you call them ‘it’”, and them there is a genderless plural pronoun being used on individual, can’t we use them and they and other versions as gender-free pronouns? Couldn’t their pecs be interesting, even if there’s just one person there? Because they probably are.
Interesting, I mean.
(Hugh Jackman’s pecs, found while searching for “cool pecs”) (okay it was a Google Alert for “cool pecs”) (okay it was a Google Alert for “cool pecs +wolverine hopefully??”)
And yeah, we could. But we don’t. A lot of style guides recommend “him/her” (and, to make it more equal, making every second one “her/him” to mix it up). But that’s messy, ugly, hard to say and impossible to say often (“Ryan sauntered into the beachhouse. His or her pecs were so interesting! She or he always suspected as much”) and puts us right back to sounding like robots. Not to mention how it completely breaks down when someone who ISN’T situated in the gender binary has pecs we want to talk about.
I have a book on dog training that randomly chooses “his” or “her” every time a dog pronoun is needed. I get the idea, but the final result is a quantum dog that changes genders during a single trick. It’s distracting. It’s messy. It’s a crude hack using tools (good ol’ gendered pronouns) that were broken in the first place. And so pointless! Nobody cares about these dog’s genders. The book ITSELF doesn’t even care. It just wants to teach me how to make my dog lie down and sit pretty but it can’t do that without getting mired down in imaginary dog gender identities.
We can do better.
And here’s where I get HARDLINE RADICAL: using them a gender-free pronoun is fine and dandy, and inventing new pronouns is great, but I don’t believe we can stop there.
We need to kill the gendered pronouns.
GENDERED PRONOUNS ARE BORING AND STUPID AND WE SHOULD MURDER THEM.
(A stock photo of a body outline. I say, could this stock photo be purchased on some manner of online stock photo website? If only this could be clarified somehow??)
Here’s a sentence:
She had no more choices left. Except one. Grinning wildly, she initiated the Omega Device.
Here’s what English says about that sentence:
The most important thing to know about anyone in the world is their gender, and I need to know it the second you tell me about someone.
"She initiated the Omega Device" tells you what I wanted it to (the Omega device has been initiated by someone, and Shit is about to Go Down, Omega-Wise) but it also tells you a woman is doing it. But no big deal, right? Who cares if we have to talk about gender when talking about Omega Devices and The People Who Initiate Them? It adds colour to the scene! Now everyone can imagine a smokin-hot babe with that Omega Device, instead of a smokin-hot hunk, and rest easy knowing their imagination is correct. What’s the problem, right? We’re getting extra information about the scene for free!
But it’s not! There’s an opportunity cost. We could be bake in literally any other fact we can imagine into our languages. We could have pronouns where, instead of someone’s gender, they told you their mood. Their bone density. Heck, we could have pronouns that tell you their HOPES AND DREAMS. We could live in a world of pronouns that indicate a speaker’s certainty that the person being referred to is ACTUALLY that person, and not a robot duplicate, and we could have a different pronoun to suggest that while the person may not be a robot duplicate, we haven’t entirely ruled out illegal clone. These are crazy suggestions, but that’s the point: anything is possible in language! We invented it! And we can reinvent whatever we want!
He’s me, Ryan. Man! Don’t you wish “he” there told you something even marginally more useful than gender identity, like at least my Facebook relationship status? OH WELL, GUESS YOU’LL NEVER KNOW
And yet we’ve settled on gender.
And it is settling. It’s settling for irrelevant, for boring, for pointless. Is gender really so important to us English speakers that it is, quite literally, all we can talk about? Kill it. Kill it, and build a language with pronouns that do better.
And while we’re at it, let’s not forget to build in a full set of neutral pronouns, pronouns that say “this person or animal or object’s gender/age/android status is irrelevant here, so WHO FRIGGIN’ CARES”. Because there will be times, I promise, when we won’t want to talk about androids, the same way there are times now where we don’t want to talk about gender, but we’re forced to because that’s the language we’ve settled on. Settled for.
And then, finally and at last, we could all stop obsessing about what genders real and imaginary people are like it’s the most important thing in the world. Because it’s really not.
Especially when there could be illegal cloning going on, and the Omega Device has just been initiated.
I hope y’all are picking up on what Snyder/Capullo are putting down with Batman in Zero Year because it’s pretty tops.
Prepare yourselves appropriately, because this is happening.
Batgirl is getting a relaunch by Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Freakin’ Tarr. You know, your actual favourite artist who drew the Bosozoku Sailor Scouts? SHE’S DRAWING BATGIRL. I’ll calm down… eventually?!
So this showed up on my dash at least four times today. I feel a little conflicted about it. I mean, obviously I’m stoked about the jugs-free costume redesign, and that DC is finally trying to appeal to girls, but did they have to transform the character in to a selfie-snapping, bubblegum-chewing, Bratz-eyed teenager to do that? Maybe I’m completely off-base, but I’ll be dipping a toe before I jump in to this.
I haven’t read Batgirl since the New 52, mostly because I loved Steph and Oracle both so much that Babs-Bat never really appealed to me. I definitely WANT to like this and I want it to do well.
Thank god its just as i remember it.
Fighting murder clowns by moonlight
Winning love by daylight
an exclusive look behind the scenes at the making of SEX CRIMINALS
I was trying to sleep.
In 2009, I wrote this comic strip!
Then, lots of people asked for the bumper sticker pictured in the comic – “I was an honor student; I don’t know what happened” – so I made it too!
There is a particular trajectory that sometimes happens with funny phrases. They become popular; then they become common; then they become anonymous.
Recently I was talking with someone who started a new T-shirt website. Their designs were all copies of common slogans, including one that originated with a friend of mine. I pointed this out to them, and they honestly didn’t see the difference between someone specific having created a particular design, and anyone at all being able to make and sell their own version of it because they saw it out in the world somewhere.
Think of any slogan you’ve seen on multiple different T-shirts or stickers, in gift shops, or at conventions, or in truck stops, or tourist stores. Who was the first person to think of the phrase “FBI – Female Body Inspector”? I don’t know how you’d ever find that out.
If you were to put that on a shirt of your own, nobody would stop you. It’s neither novel nor artful, but you could do it all you like. To be unique, you’d have to drill down the parody well even further – e.g., Flannel & Beard Inspector.
But somebody did come up with that phrase, and somebody was the first to put it on a T-shirt, and somebody else did copy them. The phrase “female body inspector” is not trademarked in the United States, according to a USPTO search I just did.
So, because there’s no trademark, and the originator is not vigorously pursuing copyright claims against other versions, it’s essentially impossible now for anyone to claim ownership of it. (Unless someone trademarked a particular visual design incorporating those words – but the only reason I could think of for that would be if it were in a TV show or something, and featured a character or something else from the show.)
Maybe that’s okay! Maybe the culture is benefited by everyone in the world being allowed to make “Female Body Inspector” T-shirts to their hearts’ content. It’s not something I personally want to buy, or wear, or make; I don’t want to hawk anything that I don’t feel is original or artful, and also, come on. But maybe the ability to sell that design royalty-free is what’s keeping horrible tourist shops in business. God bless them, may they sell sleepy-sombrero-man vulgar cactus pots until the earth opens up to swallow them whole.
They didn’t quite copy my slogan, they just put my own photograph of the product onto a series of mugs.
Probably they found the photo on imgur or somewhere, and so to them it’s just one more anonymous piece of fodder to be mindlessly thrown onto every imaginable print-on-demand item in the vain hope of making a few pennies here, a few pennies there. The only real winner is probably Zazzle.
I complained about these other Zazzle products using my slogan, but I don’t know if they’ll side with me – when it comes to copyright claims, trying to prove ownership of an un-trademarked slogan presents a certain burden. I do think this particular claim (about the product above) is a good one since they’re literally using my photograph, and photographs are protected under copyright.
It’s worth fighting because having “vigorously defended” one’s intellectual property is a necessary part of proving in court (if it were to ever come to that) that your IP qualifies for protection in the first place, as opposed to being simply lost to the public commons like “Female Body Inspector.”
Besides spending loads of money on trademarks or truckloads of money on litigation, though, there’s little any of us can do. We can send emails, we can make snarky tweets, we can hover over our ideas like dragons on a pile of gold.
But in the end, speaking completely pragmatically, the best way to ensure one’s creative livelihood even in an age where ideas are so easily copyable is to always be creating, always coming up with new ideas. Staying one step ahead.
It’s with that in mind that I’d like to present for sale an all-new, original mug design. Check it out on Zazzle.