Post Reply
Page 1 of 6  •  1 2 3 4 5 6 Next
Switch to Forum Live View Gender Pronouns and God.
2 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 12:23PM #1
JCarlin
Posts: 6,487

Jun 11, 2012 -- 9:30AM, steven_guy wrote:

Sorry, but when I see "hesh" and "herm" in a post it makes it harder for me to read and almost impossible to sort out if English wasn't my first language. It would be considerate to those for whom English is a second language to use standard English pronouns that are found in any English dictionary. Just a suggestion! 



Back in the mid 20th Century the feminist movement tried with some success to ban the generic use of "men" and "man" as in "All men are created equal."  In current vernacular they have succeeded quite well.  In some Churches led by UUs they even succeeded in removing male references to God in large part by eliminating the pronoun alltogether, resulting in some rather weird hymnody with repetitive use of God and some strangled syntax to eliminate references directly to God. 

I was frequently involved in God discussions at that time and found the effort of avoiding the Pronouns for God too much effort and found the shock of using Hesh and Herm in reference to God a useful result in my discussions.  Typically it generated the assertion that God was male and that the proper Pronouns were He and His.  This generally derailed the discussion into a useful discussion of God's testosterone levels.  

When I came to beliefnet I continued the practice and for a long time linked on the words to a discussion on the old Gender and Sexuality boards. When I began to see "hesh" and "hir" or "herm" in the popular literature without explanation, (I admit to noticing each time) I quit linking particularly on this and the UU boards as everyone could figure out what I meant without the link from context although fundamentalist Christians and language conservatives continue to protest its use in reference to God. 

As a card carrying male feminist I also eliminated the gender specific pronouns from my vocabulary as a general pronoun and use "hesh" and "herm" as my pronouns of choice when the gender of the referent is not known.  This is particularly useful in calling attention to gender specific terms like "Actor," Waitress," or "Chairman."  Traditionalists be damned. They need their consciousness raised.  If it jars their reading or hearing of the term, they still need the consicousness raising. 

More recently I have been using the terms when the referent is of known gender but the gender is not relevant in context.  Reference to the author of a scientific paper was beat into my head by my then wife whose papers in a male chauvinist academic profession were referred to as "HER" papers as if they were therefore less important than "his" papers.  They in fact were less important than "his" papers, even though in general they were signifiicantly better.  It is no accident that women in science generally publish with initials only.  Those who are members of misogynic religions need to have their consciousness raised.  If they are offended by having to think about gender, too bad.  They need to.  Particularly the sexist males.  They can be sure I intended to insult them with the gender inclusive pronoun.

As for the ESL issue, some languages particularly Asian languages are non-sexist in that the pronouns are non-specific.  I live with Asians and have become used to hearing "she" and "her" being used as a pronoun for anybody.  I don't bother to correct them as they are on my side. I suspect Asians would have more trouble with "he" and "she" in writing and speech than they would be with "hesh" and "herm."  

Other languages are inherently sexist.  I was at the installation of a new department head couldn't even introduce his staff because his native language didn't have a word for a female collegue.  He did all right with the men, but the female who outranked the men caused an embarrassing for all search for an appropriate honorific.   
 

J'Carlin
If the shoe doesn't fit, don't cram your foot in it and complain.
Quick Reply
Cancel
2 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 12:57PM #2
mainecaptain
Posts: 21,783

Thank you. And thank you for the explanation,. I thought it was something like that. :)

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side. Aristotle
Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. Plato..
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives" Jackie Robinson
Quick Reply
Cancel
2 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 1:05PM #3
Ken
Posts: 33,859

Gods are male, female, and neuter. Zeus is male. Athena is female. The Judeo-Christian god is male. Impersonal absolutes like Brahman and the Tao are neuter and properly referred to as "it."

Quick Reply
Cancel
2 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 1:38PM #4
mainecaptain
Posts: 21,783

Jun 11, 2012 -- 1:05PM, Ken wrote:


Gods are male, female, and neuter. Zeus is male. Athena is female. The Judeo-Christian god is male. Impersonal absolutes like Brahman and the Tao are neuter and properly referred to as "it."




The "it" thing always annoyed me. I think that  goes back to my years at Catholic school. The Nuns refereed to all non human animal life as "it", because non-human animals are not supposed to have a soul. Even as a small child, I remember thinking if human animals have a soul, non human animals must,  or vis versa.


As for the Judeo Christian god, I am always stumped on that, yes he is suppose to be male. (I am always surprised at the way men (heterosexual men) grovel and yield personal authority to a male. I think that is why some abrahamic male worshippers are so unpleasant, it effects them not in a good way. Perhaps they see something not natural in the behaviour, or perhaps they see something desirable about it. I do wonder.


Anyway


 I just use the word god lower case to indicate various divinities being refereed to unless one is specified, that usually leaves me not have to be gender specific.


Unless some one is specific about which god they worship, even if I suspect it is the Abrahamic one, I wait to be told, rather then assume. Then yes it is a he, at least in literature. Smile

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side. Aristotle
Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. Plato..
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives" Jackie Robinson
Quick Reply
Cancel
2 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 2:00PM #5
Ken
Posts: 33,859

Jun 11, 2012 -- 1:38PM, mainecaptain wrote:


Jun 11, 2012 -- 1:05PM, Ken wrote:


Gods are male, female, and neuter. Zeus is male. Athena is female. The Judeo-Christian god is male. Impersonal absolutes like Brahman and the Tao are neuter and properly referred to as "it."



The "it" thing always annoyed me. I think that  goes back to my years at Catholic school. The Nuns refereed to all non human animal life as "it", because non-human animals are not supposed to have a soul. Even as a small child, I remember thinking if human animals have a soul, non human animals must,  or vis versa.


I refer to non-human animals as "it" because I frequently can't ascertain their gender. That may change after further acquaintance with an individual. There's also an old custom of calling dogs "he" and cats "she" unless the gender is known. "It" is frequently extended to cover very young children.


Jun 11, 2012 -- 1:38PM, mainecaptain wrote:

As for the Judeo Christian god, I am always stumped on that, yes he is suppose to be male.


Christianity is very muddled about this. The Father and the Son are male, but the Holy Spirit, although technically a person, is usually an it. The Trinity as a whole is also an it. Unitarian Christians should call God "it" - if they're going to jettison the Son and the Holy Spirit, they might as well upgrade to an impersonal absolute while they're at it. Impersonal absolutes are terribly sophisticated.

Quick Reply
Cancel
2 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 2:48PM #6
Ken
Posts: 33,859

Jun 11, 2012 -- 2:20PM, Aka_me wrote:


however, a transcendent God... cannot be assigned a gender, and for communication's sake can only be assigned a pronoun.



Which should be "it."

Quick Reply
Cancel
2 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 3:41PM #7
JCarlin
Posts: 6,487

Jun 11, 2012 -- 2:20PM, Aka_me wrote:

however, a transcendent God... cannot be assigned a gender, and for communication's sake can only be assigned a pronoun.


And every believer in a transcendent God assigns the pronoun "He."  This perhaps can be excused in antiquity as "He" like "men" was arguably generic for all humans, although in actually usage it was always a clear that male humans were the referent. Much as I respect Jefferson, he was precise enough in his use of English even in rhetoric that if he meant to include women and slaves in the Declaration he would have done so. 


In modern English the use of "He" for a transcendent God cannot be grandfathered in.  Either It is without gender, hence "It," or it is non-existent with woo-woo as the appropriate pronoun. Of course in most cases the transcendence is a fig leaf for the old fashioned Abrahamic Supernatural Alpha Male to whom everyone must kneel to be in the proper worship position.  

J'Carlin
If the shoe doesn't fit, don't cram your foot in it and complain.
Quick Reply
Cancel
2 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 3:51PM #8
wohali
Posts: 10,227

How about a transgendered god?

Quick Reply
Cancel
2 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 3:58PM #9
Ken
Posts: 33,859

Jun 11, 2012 -- 3:51PM, wohali wrote:


How about a transgendered god?



Do you know of one?

Quick Reply
Cancel
2 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 4:05PM #10
wohali
Posts: 10,227

I don't personally know any gods............

Quick Reply
Cancel
Page 1 of 6  •  1 2 3 4 5 6 Next
 
    Viewing this thread :: 0 registered and 1 guest
    No registered users viewing
    Advertisement

    Beliefnet On Facebook