Previously, when people scoffed at the idea of language as being an important building block of civilized social structure I would simply roll my eyes. These days… not so much.
We’ve covered more than a few stories here about special snowflakes on college campuses or writers at Alt-Left publications demanding this or that change to the English (or more properly “American”) language to accommodate “transgender” sensitivities. As has happened all too often across the span of history, it’s easy enough to simply mock these trends and wait for them to die off like the fad of swallowing live goldfish or eating off lead plates. Unfortunately, these things have a way of creeping up on you. When they make their way consistently into the mainstream media which the majority of consumers absorb it’s already too late and you’re left wondering what happened, much like Ned Ludd staring at the stocking frames he’d smashed, still unable to believe the industrial revolution was coming.
In terms of the Social Justice Warriors and their efforts to discard millennia of science in favor of gender impersonation, the Associated Press has taken a large and alarming step toward the normalization of such thinking. Their stylebook has now been updated with cautions issued to authors about being too old fashioned when referring to men, women and the gender definitions of our species. (Washington Times)
In a Friday email to subscribers listing updated entries for its style manual, the Associated Press is urging journalists to avoid making references in news stories that suggest there are only two sexes in the human race.
The term “gender,” the AP Stylebook says, is “[n]ot synonymous with sex.”
“Gender refers to a person’s social identity while sex refers to biological characteristics,” the style guide explains.
“Not all people fall under one of two categories for sex or gender, according to leading medical organizations, so avoid references to both, either or opposite sexes or genders as a way to encompass all people. When needed for clarity or in certain stories about scientific studies, alternatives include men and women, boys and girls, males and females.”
The AP is also venturing into the linguistically horrible territory of extending plurals (“they, them, their”) into areas where such pronouns have no business being found. They’re not ready to jump on the, “xe or ze” bandwagon yet, but having given the first inch, the mile is no doubt soon to follow.
For a couple of years now I’ve comforted myself (perhaps in a delusional fashion) in thinking that our system of courts could eventually sort this out through the various lawsuits currently clogging the system over transgender bathroom cases. If the Supreme Court could eventually demand that some plaintiffs provide scientific proof (which does not exist) that mankind isn’t comprised of two fundamental genders which are defined by not only obvious physical structures but our very DNA, the issue would be settled. Yes, there is a small segment of the population with genetic aberrations which manifest in the form of sexual organs and traits of both genders, but that’s not evidence of some cancellation of the basic biological design of human beings. It is, as described, an aberration which we do our best to accommodate. As for those born with the normal complement of XX or XY structures in their 23rd chromosomal pairs, simply “feeling” like the other gender (which means the same thing as “sex” for purposes of this discussion) doesn’t mean you are that gender. This is as true as the fact that people who suffer from Cotard’s Syndrome are not actually zombies.
Words have power and it’s a power which becomes magnified when it begins showing up in widely read and trusted sources. What we’re seeing now is the misappropriation of a words which has been well understood for centuries. The Associated Press is flatly, boldly and incorrectly stating that, “the term gender is not synonymous with sex.” This is demonstrably false. The etymological roots of “gender” date back to the Old French gendre from at least the 14th century and it actually came into common use as a more socially acceptable replacement for the word “sex” when the latter took on erotic undertones in literature.
The “male-or-female sex” sense is attested in English from early 15c. As sex (n.) took on erotic qualities in 20c., gender came to be the usual English word for “sex of a human being,” in which use it was at first regarded as colloquial or humorous. Later often in feminist writing with reference to social attributes as much as biological qualities; this sense first attested 1963. Gender-bender is from 1977, popularized from 1980, with reference to pop star David Bowie.
All of this is common knowledge, but the cohort which so often claims to be the defenders of science (at least when discussing global warming) has no interest in science when it comes to this question. And now their demands are being taken as gospel by mainstream media outlets such as the Associated Press. The battle for this reality may already be lost at this point because the courts all too often follow cultural trends whether they are willing to admit it or not. Gender impersonation is quickly becoming accepted as some sort of new gender reality and it’s being embedded in our language. It’s a truly sad thing to observe.