Yesterday I stopped by a Methodist church that was having a charity Christmas-tree sale. A man told me the sale was over for the day and then wished me “Happy Holidays.”
“Don’t you mean ‘Merry Christmas’?” I asked, smoke coming out of my ears.
Yes, this is the season in which we must spare the sensitivities of Jews—and now Hindus and Buddhists and atheists, I suppose—by downgrading Christmas to just another “holiday.” Even people who sell Christmas trees at churches don’t dare utter the offensive word.
Christmas has not been completely rubbed out, though. Surely the preacher, from the safety of his altar, will bring himself to wish the congregation a Merry Christmas. Greater damage to the language has been done by everything having to do with “gender.”
First, let’s get one thing straight: We humans don’t have a gender; we have a sex—until recently, just one each. Gender is a grammatical term used in languages such as French and Spanish to describe the differences between such things as masculine and feminine nouns, and adjectives that agree with them. Examples are la grande fille and le grand garçon. English has gender in such words as waiter/waitress and actor/actress.
In the past, writers occasionally used “gender” instead of “sex,” as in this 1723 letter written by Lady Mary Montagu:
To say truth, I have never had any great esteem for the fair sex, and my only consolation for being of that gender has been the assurance it gave me of never being married to any one among them.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that feminists cranked up the word “gender” as a replacement for sex, but D. H. Lawrence unwittingly pushed things in that direction back in 1929. He was the first to use the word “sex” as a euphemism for coitus rather than to mean what distinguishes men from women. The expression “to have sex” is an absurd construction when you think about what the word “sex” really means, but it is now ubiquitous. It’s also completely unnecessary. English has plenty of polite words for the act—coitus, copulation, intercourse, rutting, congress—and even situational refinements such as adultery and fornication. The impolite variants are endless.
Thanks to D. H. Lawrence, even movies or books can now “have a lot of sex” in them, when before his time they would have been lewd, lascivious, or lubricious. The point is that once sex ceased to be merely a clinical distinction and also began to mean copulation, the feminists had an opening and offered “gender” as a replacement. But they wanted to do a lot more than that.
Feminists were willing to keep “sex” as a mere biological detail, but “gender” was much more important. It meant all the oppressive freight society loaded onto women which kept them from their natural roles as mathematicians and physicists and made them want to have children. Now we have grotesque expressions such as “gender equality,” “gender-neutral,” and “gender-inclusive.”
“Gender” was meant to work the way “race as a social construct” works. Race, the lefties tell us, is a sociological optical illusion that has nothing to do with biology. We may think there are racial differences, but it’s all in our minds. That’s exactly what feminists wanted us to think about sex. “Gender” means “sex as a social construct.” It’s only brutish custom, not biology, that makes men into soldiers and women into nurses.
“Gender” was the name for this fraud that the left trotted out from the world of grammar and dressed up in fancy ideological clothes. So far, no one has come up with a word that means “race as a social construct.” I suggest “render.” It’s just ridiculous enough to appeal to lefties.
But the feminists were too successful with “gender.” It became so common it began to lose its ideological baggage and started to mean just, well, sex. Forms now ask for your “gender”—and it’s not to thwart the jokers who used to write in “as often as possible.”
“Gender” is one of those words that has been slipped into the language for baldly political purposes. “Homeless” is another one. Sometime in the 1970s, all the world’s bums and winos got a promotion and became “the homeless,” as if their trim houses in the suburbs had all just been leveled by tornadoes.
The feminists have done even worse things, such as bullying us into breaking the laws of grammar. It is a peculiarity of English that we use the singular pronoun “he” and the possessive “his” when the subject’s sex is unspecified, as in “Each student has his own desk.” The students can be boys or girls, but each has a desk. Feminists can’t stand this. They claim that “his” excludes half the population, but this is absurd. Did anyone ever think that “He who hesitates is lost” doesn’t apply to women? Or that only men would be living in the workers’ paradise of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”?
Once again, however, Americans have been browbeaten into either the clumsy “his or her” or the ungrammatical “their,” as in “Each student has their own desk.” “Their” is pathetically, miserably wrong. It is the plural possessive, as in “The fourth-graders left their classroom.” However, when Twitter wants you to find out more about someone, you can click to “View their profile.” What craven surrender!
This kind of language subversion comes only from the left. Every change is a tiny attempt to poison someone’s mind—if not yours then your children’s. Today, plenty of young people would be astonished to be told that “Every student should do their homework” is as wrong as “They goes home.”
Every day, the left is beavering away at the language. Fight back. Proudly use such sentences as “Man is a mammal so he suckles his young.”
And in the meantime, Merry Christmas. Or should I say “Mary Christmas”? After all, she did all the work, didn’t she?