The historic philosopher Voltaire is often quoted as saying, “If you wish to converse with me, define your terms.” Those fighting the culture war seem to have forgotten this or at the least are oblivious to how pervasive misdefined terms has become.
The use (or misuse) of words and language to try and manipulate a population has been well studied. It existed in Soviet Russia. It’s a leading theme in George Orwell’s 1984. It is still happening today, and just as insidious as it ever was.
The difference is that previously the language was put out by propagandists and politicians. Now it’s being “legitimized” first by pseudo-scientists and then being propagated by propagandists and politicians.
Yes. Words evolve and shift meanings over time as a natural evolution of language. That is not what I’m talking about. I am talking about curated, specially defined words forced or implanted into the culture to stifle the thinking of certain concepts, or to enforce the inclusion of concepts.
This is going to be a series on different elements of the cultural war. It starts with this piece on “gender theory”. Future posts will be about economics, race wars and mental health.
Example 1: “Gender” Theory
Before I get into this, a disclaimer: I don’t care how people choose to live their lives. I’ll even do the pronoun thing because it facilitates decorum in day-to-day exchanges.
What I have a problem with is the underlying, culturally destructive ideology and overall intent. The people propagating this know who they are and what they are doing. I would not take my distaste for that out on individual citizens just trying to get by. My beef is only with the politician, the pseudo-scientist, the proselytizing academic and the activist.
Let me ask you this: would you use the word “cis” when debating the validity of Gender theory? Probably not. It’s a very recent creation and esoteric. How about the even more unwieldy “cis-normative”?
Along that same vein, would you use the word “gender”? The answer is clearly that you would. But why? Gender wasn’t really a word that meant anything until the 1960s and then pushed into the common lexicon, hard, in the 80’s and 90’s.
gender The use of gender to mean “sex” has been cited with disapproval in books on usage for many years. Fowler 1926 seems to have been the first to raise the issue, and his remarks are typical:Websters Dictionary of English Usage: a Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, 1989.
‘gender… is a grammatical term only. To talk of persons or creatures of the masculine or feminine g., meaning of the male or female sex, is either a jocularity (permissible or not according to context) or a blunder’
But by the turn of the century dictionaries had begun to give it restrictive labels. The OED described it as “now only jocular” in 1898, and Merriam-Webster dictionaries at the same time were calling it “obsolete or colloquial.”
Whether obsolete, colloquial, or jocular, the “sex” sense of gender continued in occasional use. By the publication of Webster’s Third in 1961, we had accumulated enough evidence of its straightforward use in written contexts to see that the restrictive labels of the past no longer applied. But the real boom in its popularity was still to come. In the past two decades, the “sex” sense of gender has become increasingly common in standard writing
(Turns out the pronoun argument is the only thing they have right because it is purely grammatical.)
Another dictionary from the 1970’s was clear to denote the definition of “gender” being especially from feminist studies. Those pseudo-scientists have continued until finally we have this definition of “gender” as provided by the Oxford New American:
“1. either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones…”
They took a word relegated to the ash heap of history and which had only grammatical context, gave it a ton of significance and importance, invented conflict around it and then pushed it into the common lexicon.
So how are you ever going to win a war on the meaning of “gender”? Or what is a man and what is a woman?
The word itself did not exist with any meaning until the 1960s and means only and exactly what they say it means. It’s a losing battle and a distraction.
There was no such thing as “gender” until 1960. They created it themselves and now want to destroy it, but only after they have inextricably mixed the subject’s nomenclature with biological standards, sexuality and nearly every aspect of social interaction.
An example: in California a doctor may now choose “gender x” on birth certificates. You can also select this for your driver’s license. But the California driver’s license never said “gender” on it. Neither did birth certificates. They only ever said “sex”, and still do today. But a common lament of the gender activists is that “gender is assigned at birth”. This is not true just by the wording of the birth document itself. What they are lamenting is the recognition of biological truth at birth – untied to any ‘societal construct’ – to which they themselves have tied this invented concept of “gender”, that they themselves also created.
Perhaps an easier example is the usage of the word “women”. Prior to the 1960s and 70s it was common to say “ladies”. There wasn’t really a regular use of “women”. Then there was protest against the “societal connotations” in using the word “ladies”. So we started using “women”. But then you see it coming up as “womym” or “womxn”. And now “woman” means anyone can be one.
Society didn’t really use the word “women” until forced by the same people who now want to abandon it and strip it of all meaning.
In each of these parts I will suggest a standard means of combating these ideologies.
The solution is not to accept, utilize and therefore lend validity to the concepts.
We need to revert to historical usages and terms that have not been co-opted.
We must be direct, succinct and pedantic. DSP: direct and succinct pedantry.
These are just suggestions. They are not rules. Use the terms you want and need to use but I suggest avoiding these ones as much as possible:
Instead of “gender” say “sex”.
Instead of “men and women” say “males and females” or “gentlemen and ladies”.
Instead of “transgender” say “males who wish to be recognized in society as females”, or the other way to.
Instead of “non-binary” say “males or females who want to be recognized in society as neither”.
Instead of “gender roles” say “the natural evolution of how males and females have come to relate over the history of civilization”.
Saying “men can’t give birth” is a losing argument. You say “it’s not unusual that a female born with a uterus gave birth”.
I’m sure you can think of several other examples.
The point I am making is you cannot disprove the subject if you use its own invented nomenclature. The use of its terms alone is sufficient to make it valid.
The building blocks of any subject are its words. The cultural destroyers know this. Render them powerless. Refuse to use their words.
In debates, we must resist the urge to use their lexicon. Doing so only gives it life.
Make them speak normal English directed at objectivity. Make them confront the world, not their inventions, which are housed only in subjective opinion.
Be direct! Be succinct! Be pedantic!
Part 2 of this series will be a look at economics and how even identifying as “capitalist”, or defending “capitalism”, are both folly in this same vein of granting validity to ideas by using the language of the enemy.