No “gendered pronouns” please

posted at 2:31 pm on July 7, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

If you’re like me, (and aren’t you all?) I know you’ve been waiting impatiently with one question on your minds. When, oh when, will Harvard appoint a new permanent director of BGLTQ student life? (We’re going to circle back to that acronym which caught me by surprise in a few moments.) Fear not, readers, for your long wait is over. And the winner is

Vanidy M. Bailey will serve as director of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Queer (BGLTQ) student life beginning July 16, dean of Harvard College Evelynn M. Hammonds announced this week. Bailey, who will report to the assistant dean of student life, will oversee all initiatives that support BGLTQ undergraduates.

So… we’ve got that little chore out of the way. But wait! Steyn discovers that yet another grievous social injustice has taken place even in the midst of this happy occasion.

Alas, this long overdue shattering of the BGLTQ ceiling was marred by the Harvard Crimson’s grossly insensitive coverage:

An earlier version of this article used the pronoun “she” to refer to Vanidy “Van” Bailey, the newly appointed director of bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer student life. In fact, Bailey prefers not to be referred to by any gendered pronoun.

I’ll bet Elizabeth Warren is kicking herself for not thinking of that one.

Stop the merry-go-round, please. My head is spinning. Before I go out on the porch and begin yelling at random Harvard students to get off my lawn, let’s try to work through a couple items from this story which have once again left me alone and confused. And I would note that I only bring up these points in the interest of keeping the language in some semblance of order.

First of all, Mr.Ms. … um … “Van” doesn’t want to be referred to with a “gendered pronoun.” Not for nothing, but as wonderful as the English language is, we’re still working with a finite number of words here. Once you remove “he” and “she” from the mix, we’re pretty much left with “it.” And I’m fairly sure somebody is going to be offended by that. You’re sort of throwing a wet blanket on your future news coverage potential, pal.

Second, what’s up with this acronym BGLTQ? I’m leaving the full definition in the quoted text above because it certainly seems to come from a source which should know, but weren’t we supposed to not be using the “Q word” when referring to gay people? I thought that was pretty much verboten, at least for those not playing on that team. But now it’s part of the official public lexicon?

I only just found out this week that “oriental” is considered an offensive term. Of course, I was never entirely clear on what Oriental meant, other than a vague reference to people or things on the other side of the Pacific ocean. But apparently you’re not supposed to say that now either. I tell you, I simply can’t keep up. (By the way, are people from India “Asians?” Isn’t India in Asia?) Of course, I was recently informed that you’re not supposed to call people of the Muslim faith “Muslims” any more either, but that guy was selling pretzels on the sidewalk near my home and seemed somewhat confused, so I’m not sure how much of an authority he is. One can never be too careful, though.

But be that as it may, we’ll have to soldier on. Clearly we need an alternative to “he” and “she” for the modern era. Does it already exist? Any suggestions?

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I say we refer to everybody by the sex organ they have…and that’s it!

KOOLAID2 on July 8, 2012 at 12:41 AM

Am I really banned . . . .

Bubba Redneck on July 8, 2012 at 2:31 AM

Whew! That was a close one!
Well Jazz, at least we are both better looking than Ed! :)

Bubba Redneck on July 8, 2012 at 2:33 AM

No gendered pronouns? OK why not use “creature”, as in creature Vanidy (Van) Bailey; or just “creature Bailey”.

Creature could also replace the use of “person”. Chair creature; creature of interest; spokes-creature; be your own creature; please apply in creature; the tickets are $25 per creature and so on.

westerncanadian on July 8, 2012 at 2:59 AM

Vanidy, thy name is woman.


Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on July 8, 2012 at 5:16 AM

How about Butt Ugly In Any Gender?

sablegsd on July 8, 2012 at 6:10 AM

So I guess it’s possible now to be both gay and queer?

flipflop on July 8, 2012 at 7:32 AM

Oriental means “from the East”, literally “from the land of the Rising Sun” (sol oriens, solis orientis – remind you of any nation’s flag?). Occidental (the name of a well-known stepping-stone to Columbia) means “from the land of the setting sun” (sol occidens, solis occidentis).

Greek does it the same way (Δύση καὶ Ἀνατολή and their derivative adjectives). In German, besides the words der Westen and der Osten, you have das Morgenland and das Abendland: literally Morningland and Even(ing)land, and synonyms to “eastern/oriental” and “western/occidental” are “eveninglandish” and “morninglandish”.

(Cool, eh? One ancient Hebrew way of saying the West is yam (ים), “the Sea.” Same in Old Norwegian, while in Iceland it was the opposite. Makes sense to sailing nations.)

But I s’pose the above isn’t of much interest to a Director of BGLTQ Student Life, though I’m glad there are still a few holdouts at Oxford and Chicago.

Tzetzes on July 7, 2012 at 3:48 PM

In 607, Prince Shōtoku of Japan dispatched Ono-no-Imoko as emissary to the court of Emperor Yang of China’s Sui Dynasty. His message supposedly contains the first known example of Japan being referred to as the ‘land of the rising sun’.

It read “From the sovereign of the land of the rising sun to the sovereign of the land of the setting sun.” (日出處天子致書日沒處天子無恙云云)

The salutation apparently annoyed Emperor Yang quite a bit.

DarkCurrent on July 8, 2012 at 7:44 AM


Anyone who is a member of any aggrieved paraphilia society.

Karl Magnus on July 8, 2012 at 10:59 AM

Its the fitting end point for full-on identity politics. You must have a student center for the 5% of people (and likely less) that are truly LGBT, but not only that, the person in charge of said center MUST be LGBT, AND they have to be SO LGBT that they won’t even identify themselves as male of female.

So ridiculously pathetic. It seems like the nanny-staters all want us to physically live in a permanent cushioned suit so we won’t be harmed by all the physical dangers in teh world, but these people seem to think everyone needs to also live in a permanent emotional cushioned suit as well so we won’t ever have to encounter any person or situation in which our self appointed and self determined self-esteem would be harmed.

The natural end state of liberalism is most assuredly extinction of the species.

deadrody on July 8, 2012 at 11:15 AM

I always thought the Q was for was for questioning. You know, for those who haven’t decided yet. Am I gay or lesbian? Hmmn. Maybe I’m Bi? Hmmn. Straight? Nah. But yeah, I thought queer was offensive too.

Doesn’t it seem like lefties are always trying to change the language and discouraging the use of words? Then they come up with something for a generation or so that is okay and then suddenly, bam! Its no longer okay to use that term and a new term is preferable. Sometimes it feels like they just want to be offended by something. And I kinda don’t care what this woman thinks about pronouns.

magicbeans on July 8, 2012 at 12:05 PM

With the possible exception of the “trans-gendered,” doesn’t “HOMOSEXUAL” pretty much describe all of them?

I must, therefore, ask the following, rhetorical questions:

Why are they so afraid to call themselves what they are … HOMOSEXUALS?

Why the need for all of the redundant euphemisms?

OhEssYouCowboys on July 8, 2012 at 1:22 PM

Vanidy’s PhD thesis, entitled :

is dated May, 2012.

Trochilus on July 8, 2012 at 2:04 PM

I wonder if he brings his sow on the airplane with him? And why can’t we include animal lovers in the BGLTQAL logo

Obamatrix on July 8, 2012 at 2:49 PM

There’s always “Hey you, with the face!”… Worked for my old man when we were kids. Or we could go full 1984 and just refer to each other as ‘citizen’.

Boogeyman on July 8, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Just tired of all the queer stuff.

StevC on July 8, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Vanidy’s PhD thesis, entitled :

In kalifornia you can become a doctor even if you don’t know how to spell check. She spells boys, bois. I guess spelling is flexible now so we can spell vanidy, obnoxiouspig.

peacenprosperity on July 8, 2012 at 8:08 PM

Doesn’t it seem like lefties are always trying to change the language and discouraging the use of words?

Language is a weapon. Didn’t you read 1984?

peacenprosperity on July 8, 2012 at 8:10 PM


Sherman1864 on July 9, 2012 at 9:11 AM

I suggest “moron”. It can be used to describe any leftist. (No, they are not liberals. Liberals actually believe in everything leftists don’t.)

woodNfish on July 9, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Linguistically, IT queers the whole deal. There is nothing of interest here, move on.

georgeofthedesert on July 9, 2012 at 5:25 PM