Patti Armstrong is an award-winning author and was the managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’ bestselling Amazing Grace series. Her latest books are: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families and Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious. She has a B.A. in social work and an M.A. in public administration and worked in both those fields before staying home to work as a freelance writer. Patti and her husband live in North Dakota, where they are still raising the tail end of their 10 children.
We are better than earthworms and higher than sea stars and sea anemones. They are gender-neutral. We are male and female. “He created them male and female, and he blessed them and he named them Man in the day when they were created.” (Genesis 5:1,2).
Most of us never could have dreamed that one day a “he” or a “she” pronoun would become political. Feminist language reformers from universities (where else?) began tackling gender specific words during the 1970’s. It became verboten to use the word “man” to stand for people. Job titles changed such as chairman to chairperson. I’m fine with giving a job a name that reflects the work regardless of gender. But then Scripture was dragged in.
In the New International Version, when Mark 1:17 was changed from: “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men” to “I will send you out to fish for people,” something was lost. Fish for people? Sounds like a playground game.
As a woman, I was never offended to have “man” stand in for all humanity since we share the same root word. At any rate, it’s an old, tired debate that I won’t rehash. The point I want to make here is that error begets error. When we got off course in the 70’s, things kept getting worse. The reasonable people never should have let the radical gender-phobic ones take over, because now, there is a crazy cat person raising gender-neutral cats. The article, "Don't Laugh: I have a serious reason for raising my cats gender neutral" by Lauren Taylor, could have used that title to write something humorous. It was no joke, however. Some of the positive comments under the article also prove that this is not an isolated incident of insanity.
It all began when her (I’m guessing Lauren is a her) two new cats freaked out in their kennels in the back seat of her car. Lauren accidentally said: “Don’t worry boys, we’ll be home soon.” They are girl cats. After almost 50 years of male cat ownership, Lauren had slipped and used the wrong gender for the new cats.
After vowing to concentrate on using the right pronouns, it suddenly occurred to her that the cats wouldn’t know the difference, so why not avoid all pronouns? Lauren’s reasoning was that by raising gender-neutral cats, it would help her to get into the habit of using plural pronouns for the sake of friends, neighbors and colleagues who individually go by “they, their and them” even though it’s grammatically incorrect. It’s apparently the most popular way to identify people without requiring them to conform to a specific gender because some people find doing so to be burdensome.
Lauren is willing to work at this in order to make the world a kinder place for those offended by being called a he or a she. So now, if Lauren asks one of the cats, “Where’s your brother?” she will catch herself and quickly reword it to: Where’s your sibling?” or “Where’s your pal?” The point is to accommodate transgender and gender-nonconforming people. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but aren’t transgender people friendly with pronouns? I thought their issue was wanting to be assigned a different one than the one they were born with?
When Lauren took one of her cats to the vet, she was forced to abandon the pronoun charade due to its impracticality. Before the illness was over, Lauren and her cat had seen five vets, two sets of front desk people, and countless vet techs—so the whole genderless thing became impossible to continue. And the lesson learned? If you guessed that Lauren learned that the exercise in genderless-speech was silly, you would be wrong. What she learned was that an actual patient in that situation would have struggled mightily with pronouns, thereby confirming that she should continue her gender-neutral exercises.
These are my takeaways from Lauren’s crusade to eliminate gender terms:
- I’m glad I’m Catholic because the truth protects us from cultural whimsies.
- Lauren spends too much money on cats. Five vets?
- The woman needs prayers.
- I think Lauren is a pseudonym for a cat lady locked in the Seventies.
- Lauren is dangerous because she writes for the Washington Post where she can influence others.
- Lauren has a good—albeit misdirected-- heart to work so hard at being kind.
- There are no limits to crazy thinking.
This is one of those things that we could almost laugh at if it was not so sad. As the world gets crazier, our Catholic faith becomes more of a comfort. We are at the point now, where nothing surprises us anymore. Thankfully, there is also nothing for which we cannot pray.