Why I Don’t Use “Preferred Pronouns”

The short answer is I use SEX pronouns, not GENDER pronouns.

What activists call mis-gendering is in fact correct-sexing. What “preferred pronouns” demand is mis-sexing, which requires a lot of mental bandwidth.

Like most mammals, I can’t help but identify someone’s sex with +99% accuracy. (A tiny minority of humans intentionally “pass” as the opposite sex, and others are ambiguous. I know a few women who refuse to perform gender entirely, and that confuses some men. Women, I think, are better at identifying sex than men, either due to instinct or conditioning for survival, since males pose threats to us [physical overpowering, rape, impregnation] they don’t pose to other men.)

Pronoun activists are conditioning everyone around them for authoritarianism. That is, they are training everyone to override their own perceptions, and replace them with what they’re told. In order to signal loyalty, friends are required to publicly lie.

That is bad for individual mental health, and the health of the community.

It is crucial to have conscious awareness of our own perceptions. All of the great social catastrophes we are taught about – Naziism, Fascism, the Slave Trade – make us ask, “how could people DO that??” The answer is, BY DENYING THEIR OWN PERCEPTIONS. We lose our ability to resist or think when we deny the reality in front of our very eyes. No matter how well-intentioned, “preferred pronouns” condition exactly that.

Manage your own perceptions; you don’t get to control mine.

P.S. I don’t “correct” anyone for mis-sexing. If a man perceives himself a woman (or animal, or helicopter) I don’t deny him his own perception. If his friends call him “she” I don’t interfere. His friends, however, often aggressively police others, demanding they change their own perceptions. Everyone is free to identify however they wish, but they don’t get to control how others identify them.


Author: Nina Paley

Animator. Director. Artist. Scapegoat.

52 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Use “Preferred Pronouns””

  1. To Knox’s phone message example about They. When an organization/business calls you the person leaving the message is They because they represent a group (plural) of people which is the organization/business. If a person only representing themselves left or didn’t leave a message (friend, family, etc…) one would typically say the person’s name, he, or she not they, because the call represents a singular individual.

  2. Thank you for the clear, incisive writing on these issues, Nina! Thinking about your experience and also what Dave Chappelle was subjected to recently.

    The bullying of Chappelle reveals that the intolerant lack humor. Two types of people who can’t take a joke it seems: narcissists and serial killers.

    I’m struck by the similarities of cancel culture perps and narcissism: there’s the double-bind (you’re not allowed to be right under any circumstances), mobbing, the inability to “see” the other, the efforts to gaslight and ruin others. And it all starts with a bully who falsely claims to be a victim in order to pretend their sadistic bullying is justified. They bask in the limelight of false victimhood. There are flying monkeys in the cast of characters too, of course.

    And there is no “room” in their world for a difference of opinion. Lots of similarities with cults, too it seems (e.g., the brainwashing, group think, and zombie-like behavior of ‘followers.’)

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