Just recently I took the latest version of sexual harassment training at my office. Of course, the correct term for this training is preventing sexual harassment, or more accurately, protecting the company against sexual harassment lawsuits.
In any case, the training was amusing. I have taken the training many times in the past, and normally it just comes down to ‘don’t be a jerk’, and ‘don’t touch’. Neither of those are rocket science, and it really shouldn’t be necessary to have a whole 45-minute training session on the subject. But that’s our litigious society today.
But the most recent training brought in something new. Pronouns. Evidently in today’s society, we can’t figure out how to address or refer to someone by looking at them. We are supposed to ask them what ‘their pronouns are’. Good luck with that. Our society still has freedom of speech, and despite what some people want to contend, calling a man a man is not an insult. Nor is calling a woman a woman. Though in the society I grew up in, calling a man a woman is an insult. Anyway…
If someone looks like a male, I will address him as a male. If someone looks like a female, I will address her as a female. If someone looks like a man in a dress, he is still a man, and I will address him as such. And if someone asks me what my pronouns are, I have a simple answer. I am a man.
And if they can’t tell that by looking at me, it’s their problem not mine. I am a slightly overweight grey haired, bearded man fast approaching 60 years old. If you can’t tell what my ‘pronouns’ are with one glance, you are either blind or willfully ignorant. And it is very rude to ask me, thank you.
And this is true of everyone. This new fad, of suggesting that we should ask people what their pronouns are is in fact rude, and pointless. If someone appears to be something different than their ‘preferred pronouns’, its their problem that they are choosing to cause. It’s not impolite to ‘mis-gender’ someone. It’s impolite to attempt to mislead people by trying to disguise who you are. And even more impolite to correct them because you are intentionally giving off the wrong visual cues.
I have never felt it necessary to ask someone what their preferred pronouns are, and I don’t expect that I ever will. They can try and correct me, and my response will simply be that ‘you look like a man (or woman)’. And if they don’t want to be addressed that way, it’s their problem to fix. Try dressing like the way you want to be addressed.
In the particular HR video I watched, toward the end there was a short session about a man who was tattooed all over, wore earrings, and occasionally wore a dress. He wanted a promotion to a customer facing position, and the manager told him that was unlikely to happen unless he presented a more normal appearance. According to the narrator of the video, that was gender-based discrimination.
According to me, and most courts, that was not discrimination. That was simple a common business practice. Businesses want to present a professional appearance, and that means business clothes, and a neat appearance. Now, admittedly, I don’t have a lot of room to talk here. I am an IT professional these days, and work from home every day. I can work in jeans and a t-shirt and get away with it. But I do have frequent video calls, and when those occur I dress professionally.
I have also spent the years since I left the service building a solid reputation in my particular IT field, and while I could probably get away with attending those calls in a t-shirt and jeans, I don’t. Despite what some people would prefer, judgments about people are often made based on their first appearance. And on that appearance, clothes do indeed make the man. Or woman.
So where does all of this go? If someone has the temerity to ask them your pronouns, give them a simple answer. ‘I am a man’ or ‘I am a woman’. And yes, give it to them in the tone of voice that makes it abundantly clear that they just lost a lot of respect by feeling like they should ask. Its up to me, and up to you, to dress and appear as you want to be addressed. Its your problem and your fault if someone feels like they need to ask. And they shouldn’t need to ask.
Truth social: @AFNN_USA