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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » the word 'that'

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Author Topic: the word 'that'
Member # 10181

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Ok, so this is a just a little rant, but this a word that *really* gets to me.
Specifically, in the context of 'Is 'that' a boy or a girl?'
I just find it so frustrating when people blurt this out without thinking. Not 'Is that PERSON a boy or a girl?' or 'Are THEY are a boy or a girl?' but basically 'What gender is THAT'.

I hear so many people saying this, and while often it is said out of curiousity and entirely without derogatory intention, to me it seems dehumanising. Like unless you have a solid, obvious, definite gender you aren't really a proper person, just a 'that'.

How do people feel about this? Am I being harsh on people who don't want to insult someone by making a guess and saying he/she, or am I justified in being annoyed?

I think one reason this is really getting to me is that in conversations with my housemates, certain people have been very negative about my choice to go out to gay clubs dressed in a masculine way, saying that I do this 'to fit in' because I 'feel I have to'. (In everyday university life I usually dress in a feminine way, but I don't see why I can't just dress how I want, when I want without comment [Frown] ).

Posts: 123 | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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I usually listen for tone with this one.

I agree, sometimes it very clearly is meant as an insult -- and to dehumanize -- especially when the "that" seems to be considerably louder than every other words in the sentence. That usually gets a very dirty look from me or an "excuse me?" and when it's an insult, it stops. However, it's not something I frequently hear in my own social circles, but outside them.

I think other times people are actually trying to be inoffensive, by not labeling someone with a gender ID that isn't theirs, and figure "that" is acceptable shorthand, rather than saying "he or she" or "zie" or "zir," what have you. In those cases I think a simple reminder as to what better shorthand is can help.

Since these are folks you live with, are you close to them? Able to simply state that "that" is insulting and hurtful to you?

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 37517

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i know what you mean!
i also get very mad whenever anyone asks that...
there was this one time when i was with some friends getting something to eat and one of them asked: "Is 'that' a girl or a guy?"

and i was actually more angry because i actually knew this girl.. she was dating one of my best friends and she was really cool

I did told her she is a girl and that i knew her but my face just changed the second she asked that.. i think they know i got upset

You Don't Have A Clue, You Don't Know What You Do To Me...

Posts: 15 | From: mexico | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 27196

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There's more to semantics than just sentence structure. I have used the very phrase before, and when I say it the word is just a referential pronoun. If it was deliberately employed as an insult, you could surely tell by the tone of voice. If it's someone you know, by all means call them out on it. Otherwise ignore 'em. Life is too short to care what loud strangers think.

The flower that smiles to-day tommorow dies.
All we wish to stay tempts then flies.

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

Posts: 25 | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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