Why stop there?

26/11/2020

The Public Service Commissioner is recommending employees include a pronoun in email signatures to signal their commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Pronouns are words used to refer to people (for example, she/her, he/him, or they/them). An easy way to normalise the use of pronouns is to include them in your email signature. There are a few reasons why this is beneficial:

  • When cisgender people include pronouns, it normalises it for everyone and protects trans and gender diverse people when they include their pronouns.
  • Having pronouns in an email signature signals you as an LGBTQIA+ ally.

Why stop there?

Why not include a reference to all groups and individuals of whom you are an ally?

Including pronouns in your email signature is a quick and easy way for cisgender people to have a powerful and positive impact. This is harder and riskier for transgender and gender diverse people because it leads to longer conversations and asks them to educate people. . .

There are all sorts of ways all sorts of people can have a powerful and positive impact but is it appropriate to do this in business correspondence?

When does teaching become preaching and when, if ever, are either appropriate in an official email or letter?

Is this a valid way to promote inclusion or will it promote division?

. . . The effect that bringing racial, ethnic, or sex differences to the forefront of our consciousness will have on social interactions is not hard to imagine. Seeing and immediately judging strangers by the innate characteristics of their group, will conjure out-group hate, strip people of their right to be seen as individuals, and sever bridging social connections in precisely the same nasty way, regardless of whether these people are vilified by racist bigots or sanctified by open-minded progressives. . . 

Gender has become another vehicle for proponents of identity politics which dissects and divides and in doing so emphasises differences rather than reinforcing our common humanity.

Hat tip: Lindsay Mitchell


NZ 5th in gender equality

13/11/2008

New Zealand is ranked fifth in an international list of countries which have closed the gender gap.

Norway heads the list, and three other Scandanavian countries dominate the ‘Gender Gap Index’, which monitors progress in political, education and economic spheres.

New Zealand came fifth and was the first non-Scandanavian country after Finland, Sweden and Iceland.

130 countries were monitored. The UK rated 13th and Australia 21st.

Ranking tells only part of the story, being not as good as perfect isn’t bad and being better than appalling isn’t good.

I take it the ranking looks at women’s participation, but I wonder how we’d all rate if it also looked at men’s involvement in what have been, and maybe still are, predomiantly female roles and activities?


Choosing Gender

24/06/2008

After our second son died someone said what a pity it was the boys who died, because of the farm.

I’ll put to one side the fact that we could have had any number of sons who might not have wanted to farm and any number of daughters who might have choosen to and concentrate on the issue: would the death of a daughter somehow be less distressing than that of a son? Of course not.

Among the many things I learnt from the short lives and early deaths of my sons was the truth in the words expressed so often by prospective parents, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a boy or a girl, as long as the baby  is happy and healthy.

No doubt that colours my view in the debate surrounding the Bioethics Council recommendation that parents undergoing IVF be allowed to choose the gender of their chidlren.

I don’t agree with  Rev Dr Michael McCabe and John Kelinsman  who said:

Catholic teaching on human dignity asserts the inviolable right to life from the moment of fertilisation to death. This right is totally unrelated to questions regarding the quality of life.

We are disturbed that there is a growing trend among some to equate the right to life with the absence of disease or with a certain notion of normality.

From a Catholic perspective, all embryos are equal and deserve unconditional respect. Therefore, embryos with genetic abnormalities have as much right to exist and be selected as those who are supposedly free of genetic abnormalities.

I loved my sons inspite of their disabilities which meant they passed none of the developmental milestones and could do no more the day they died than they could the day they were born at 20 weeks and five years respectively.  But if I was a prospective parent undergoing IVF and could choose an embryo with or without a disability, I would not hesitate to choose the one without.

But I am hesitant about the next step to allow choosing gender, even if as the ODT says:

On the face of it, there is much that could be said in favour of this, not least its logic.

The parents-to-be will have made a number of challenging, potentially life-changing decisions to progress their status to this point and it can be argued, as the council has indeed done, that there are simply insufficient reasons to withold that final decision from the persons involved.

But:

It comes back to such broad concepts as “interfering with nature”, “designing babies”, manipulating genetic material for shallow or unethical ends, and so on.

For while the council was recommending sex selection in the most narrow of circumstances, many would see the move as a dangerous precedent: an open invitation for the advancement of other selection crtieria for “social” reasons.

Whatever one’s cultural or spiritual background and beliefs, there is something inherently disturbing about the prospect of a world in which babies are pre-selected according to a set of supposedly desirable genetic traits and characteristics – which is where opponents of the sex selection report can see this ultimately headed.

After our sons died a lot of people said we were lucky we still had a daughter. It’s hard to appreciate luck when you’ve just buried a child, but I understood what they meant. However, I am not sure if they would have understood if I’d explained that one of the lucky things about having a healthy child was that it taught me to be realistic about parenting.

Had none of our children survived I might have harboured romantic ideas that I could have been the perfect mother of a perfect child. As it was I learned from experience perfection and parenting are mutually exclusive and that we carry on loving our children inspite of the imperfections – theirs and ours.

Parenting, at least as much as marriage is for better and for worse and the idea that a certain number of girls or boys would make a family better just buys in to the false idea that that there is a “right” number and gender balance for a family.

I have no problem with choosing the sex of a baby to avoid a gender-linked health problem. But I am uncomfortable about taking that extra step to allow choosing a boy or a girl to gender balance families.

Professor Lord Robert Winston discussed this on Nine To Noon  this morning.


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