(We must be) BIOPHILIC (people in order to survive)
or why pronouns are not personal
Jennifer / Deep Green Resistance Women’s Caucus
The original draft of this essay was written on lined paper supported by a copy of Andrea Dworkin’s Unapologetic Writings on the Continuing War Against Women.
She is teaching me to write authentically from my own experience.
Every time I am in a community that begins a meeting by insisting that introductions include declaration of preferred personal pronouns I have felt a deep sense of betrayal by that community, and by myself when I comply with the demand. I have felt sick to my stomach, trapped, compromised, violated. Choosing feels incomprehensible. Internally I am repulsed by even starting to entertain the process of choosing a pronoun.
I had a dream. In the dream I wanted to enter the house of a beloved elder, whom I had assisted for years in waking life but who is no longer living. The house was occupied in my dream by others who did not want me to be there. I went anyway. There was something I needed to find. I was surprised to find furnishings that had belonged to my friend in the house. I rummaged through a dresser I recognized and a bedside table and was even more surprised to find a lined, folded piece of paper in the corner of a drawer. I recognized my old friend’s handwriting. The new owners arrived and ordered me out of the house. I escaped and when I was far enough away I unfolded the paper. For some reason, I could not read any of the words on the paper. They were there, I just could not read them, except for one “Is”.
What is “Is”? What essence does it convey. Is is essential, almost defying definition. Is is, to exist, to be. I am. We are. She is.
What is the meaning of the smallest most seemingly insignificant words in this English language? I know that language is the encoded wisdom of a human community that has evolved over generations of experience, a gift of our ancestors woven of relationships, interactions, experiences, co created symbiotically from within the web of life on Earth, at least until the most recent generations of our species existence. Unlike mechanistic language, the objectifying othering words which I strive to eradicate from my speech, these small words predate industrial civilization, civilization, the written word, human supremacism. They are at the root of my native tongue.
I am a female animal, first a girl then a woman, part of a dimorphic species connected to all life, a part of Earth. It is incomprehensible to choose she, she simply is. Addressing me, any female with she is ancient, prehistoric, biological truth encoded in the innate wisdom of my language, the gift of my ancestors.
Integrity in the words we speak, in the words we write, is of the utmost importance. With integrity, all is well, without integrity nothing is.
Pronouns are not personal. To choose would sever my relationships to that which is greater than self, essential. Choosing is a breach of my integrity. I do not – will not – can not choose.
Read the book that inspired this essay: Life and Death: Unapologetic Writings on the Continuing War Against Women
Image from http://ligetmuhely.com/liget/orr-a-szeretet/