A Question Of Perceptions, Reflections And Happiness

We all know those people who have absolutely nothing nice to say about anything. I’m not talking about pessimists. There’s nothing wrong with being a bit pessimistic, or even more than a bit pessimistic. I’m talking about those people who may seem totally pleasant at first, but as soon as they open their mouths to voice their world views, they turn into these rancorous, penurious hate mongers. I’m sorry if that’s offensive, but I cannot hold it in any longer. I am tired of hearing these people spitting their miserable, acidic opinions out as if they’re facts.

“Nothing in life is free!”

“There isn’t a fully altruistic person on this Earth! They’re all out to swindle you!”

“Human nature is fundamentally evil!”

I mean, gee, I’m sorry, who pissed in your coffee today? And yesterday, the day before that and every day before that one? Can you prove any of what you just said? Because in my opinion, thought and will are free, altruistic people do, in fact, exist, and we know so little about human nature that as of now, it is near impossible and entirely foolish to place attributes on it. But I’m not going to go around trying to pass those opinions off as facts and trying to indoctrinate everyone with my nauseatingly optimistic propaganda, so kindly refrain from doing the same with your resentful horseshit. I can’t tell these people to stop viewing life the way they do, and that wouldn’t make sense anyway, because that’s not my objection. I object to the way they make everyone else miserable by preaching their hate and professing that everyone else is at fault for being so ‘blindly optimistic.’ I believe that most humans are trying to be good people because whether or not I’m succeeding, I am certainly putting forth a great effort to be a ‘good person.’ I believe that thought and will are free because I feel that my own thinking and desires are independent and within my control. I believe in altruism because I strive for it.

Perhaps the way we view the world is more a reflection of who we are as individuals, and not the rest of the world. If you’re a frigid person, it’s no wonder the world seems like a frigid place to you, and maybe that’s why these people who are so bitter and so eager to educate everyone else on the evils of humankind never seem like very happy people. They can accuse me of seeing the world through rose colored glasses all they want, but sometimes I wonder if maybe I’m not the one whose viewpoints are tinted– maybe I have clarity, and it’s them who see the world in gray.

Am I A Victim Of Materialism, Or A Perpetrator?

Here’s a nice, disturbing topic to delve into: materialism. I’ve spent my entire life taking great pride in the fact that I am not materialistic. It’s been the one thing that I remind myself of when I start to question whether or not I’m doing an A+ job at life.

“I forgot to floss my teeth, have been ignoring my bank statements for three months straight, didn’t signal on the on ramp this morning, ripped a contact lens and lost my glasses, but at least I’m not materialistic!”

I mean, maybe I suck at some things, but at least I’ve got enough depth of character to not be materialistic, right? If I was materialistic, then there would be no redeeming qualities about being me. So at least I’m not materialistic… but I’ve been beginning to question that lately. This September, I’ll be a freshman in college. That means I’m buying a lot of college prep stuff that advertisers have convinced me I need. I can’t just take my sheets from home to my dorm room. No, I need XL twin microfiber bedsheets in light teal so that they can match the new, overpriced comforter I’m ordering on Amazon. And there’s a lot of slippery red brick on campus. It’s rainy here in the PNW, so I need a solid pair of waterproof boots. Could I have just settled for a practical, reasonably priced, favorably reviewed pair from one of the lesser known brands? Oh no. I scrolled past two pages of perfectly suitable, inexpensive, five star street boots and clicked on a pair of four star, goddamn Doc Martens. To be fair, they were fifty percent off, but for fuck’s sake, why did they have to be Docs? They had to be Docs because Docs are cool. Docs are recognizable. Docs will go well with those new dresses I bought, and the leather jacket and the wool sweater.

Back to school shopping is entirely acceptable, especially when you’re a college freshman and you’re scared about living on your own, but also excited, eager to find new friends yet desperate to make a glowing first impression. But it doesn’t have to be this marathon of materialistic desires and impulse spending. There is a fine, but clear line between wants and needs, and usually, I can make that distinction quite well, but lately, I feel as though I’ve been trying to medicate my college-freshman-apprehension with new clothes and unnecessary dorm supplies. Part of it is because of the marketing ploys. Walk into a Target sometime. There will be a full section of the store devoted solely to college supplies. You can have your pick of ten different kinds of shower caddies and get half-off on dorm decorations that will seem cute and clever until you realize that half the people on your floor have the exact same ones. Advertisers are fully aware that this time of year, the stores are crawling with fussy mother-hens, willing to shell out the entirety of their retirement funds on superfluous dorm accessories just to make sure their baby chicks will be comfy when they leave the nest. And they prey on that. Relentlessly. They also know the baby chicks will pay any price to be cool at school, so they make sure to set plenty of expensive bait for them. As a result of this, I have relinquished my integrity and authenticity and allowed myself to get sucked in to the materialism trap.

But maybe it’s irresponsible of me to blame the marketing ploys. I mean, at the end of the day, it just comes down to a poor, innocent, starving CEO who just needs a wee more million to install a mini bar on his family’s private jet. We all need money, don’t we? What really bothers me is that this entire time, I’ve known about the marketing ploys. I was fully aware of how excessive the college shopping was getting, and for this reason, I cannot call myself a victim while still maintaining an ounce of personal fidelity. I know that I encouraged and supported these marketing techniques. I know that when the college shopping season comes to a close, some middle aged man in a suit and tie is going to stand in front of his advertising crew in a meeting room and congratulate them on a job well done, clicking through PowerPoint slides of graphs and diagrams illustrating the success of their marketing ploys. I will be one of the millions of people who made those ploys successful, and it makes me wonder if it’s more because the advertisers took advantage of me, or because I am weak on a moral level and allowed those marketing ploys to ensnare me.

This raises a question that I’ve never really thought about: Is materialism an external quality that befalls the unwary or is it something from within, that comes out when given the right circumstances? Or is it a bit of both? Maybe that’s an obnoxiously pseudo-philosophical question, and maybe there’s no answer, but either way, it’s one that has been crossing my mind a lot lately when I get those intermittent moments of clarity in this frenzy of college-prepping, where I find myself disappointed with my actions and confused about why I’m behaving so out of character lately.

Learning To Check Your Privilege

I get it. No one likes to be reminded of how unfair the world is, especially when they’re the ones who benefit from the injustice. And in an era of shifting social paradigms, a time when millions of people worldwide are busy demanding change and raging against the machine… when you’re the machine, it’s hard not to feel singled out. I say ‘I get it’ because I am privileged, very much so, and learning to fully check that privilege was a habit that took a lot of work to develop.

Very often, I find myself exasperated with men who either refuse to acknowledge that they are privileged, or who, when reminded of their male privilege, immediately launch into a somewhat belligerent sermon about how women have it so easy these days now that they “have equal rights” so therefore feminists should just shut up already and “Once, a potential employer hired an equally qualified woman over me just to improve the diversity of their employees.” I get exasperated because as a woman who has experienced sexism, I understand that regardless of whether or not my constitutional rights are equal to men’s, the social paradigms surrounding women and femininity in general are still staggeringly oppressive and offensive. The very idea that an oh-so-privileged male could be so obstinate and naïve as to feel attacked and insulted when his privilege is pointed out is frankly, kind of appalling. Ironically, only a few years ago, I was just as naïve. I may not have become infuriated by having my privilege thrown into the spotlight, and I definitely didn’t ball up my fists and petulantly point out all the ways in which oppressed people are actually privileged but just don’t know it and how “I’m a victim too, you know.” But whenever I came across articles or blog posts about dycishet privilege, I would find myself feeling rather indignant.

What I had to learn in order to check to my privilege, is that acknowledging these privileges doesn’t invalidate any adversity I face as an individual. It doesn’t mean that I never have bad days, and when people directly point these out to me, they’re not attacking me, they are, in fact, doing me a favor. I think the only way for anyone to truly understand this is to stop making it about themselves. I don’t recognize my privilege because I deserve to feel ashamed, or because I should always bask in the glory of privilege, or because I’m seeking those shiny ‘ally brownie points’ or even because I’m trying to be a more socially aware individual (though I am, it’s just not the main reason). I recognize my privilege because it’s the first step in the process of making a better, safer, more inclusive world for those who don’t experience these privileges. It’s about them. And it took a lot of listening to the voices of these people for me to realize that. You don’t learn to check your privilege by talking over the voices of the oppressed, assuring them that you’re not privileged, that their observations about the way you’re treated versus how they’re treated are invalid and wrong. That is, in fact, engaging in a form of oppression. It’s only when you care enough about your fellow human beings to listen to them patiently and receptively and respect them when they come forth and share their experiences that you’ll begin to see things as they really are. So much of supporting social change is using your privilege to help that change gain momentum, and that’s something that’s simply impossible if you can’t be bothered to acknowledge your privilege.

What’s So Political About Political Correctness?

When I was in driver’s ed., my instructor used to find every excuse he could to attempt to indoctrinate the class with his conservative values. Often, he would pace arrogantly back and forth in front of the class and remind us all that, “two things will ruin America.” I don’t remember what the first one was, because I fervently rejected his propaganda, but the second ‘thing that would ruin America’ was political correctness. Every now and again he’d slip up and accidently blurt out some kind of twisted racist or homophobic bullshit, and carelessly excuse himself with his ‘political correctness is going to ruin America’ speech.

Driver’s ed. was not the first time I’ve heard conservatives protest political correctness, and certainly was not the last. In fact, I do believe Mr. Donald Trump voiced his own concern about political correctness recently. Every example of ‘political correctness’ people give seems to revolve around basic human rights. It is politically correct believe black lives matter. It is politically correct to pay women equal wages. It is politically correct to refrain from using homophobic slurs. It is politically correct to use people’s correct gender pronouns, to treat trans people with respect, to acknowledge more than just the binary genders… the list goes on for miles.

What I find somewhat disturbing is the fact that the things listed above are apparently political. It seems to me that treating your fellow human beings as equals is not a matter of politics, it’s a matter of basic human empathy and compassion, something that I hope all people feel for one another, regardless their political leanings. Working to create a more respectful, safe and inclusive society for all people is not politically correct, it’s fundamentally correct.

The Colors We Forgot We Had

Wow! Very inspiring!

Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

The Colors We Forgot We Had | Natural Wool Dyes from Vermont Gardens, Meadows, & Hedgerows - A Workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving | Caroline Goddard Photography | Hope State Style

Last September, I took a workshop at the Marshfield School of Weaving on dyeing with plants gathered from garden, field and forest. I headed up to Vermont right after quitting my job in publishing and could feel myself sliding into a different way of being. It seems significant that, through this workshop, I learned that an exquisite palette of colors has been sitting right under my nose for years. Plants that are often taken for weeds in cities can be sources of rich pigment, most of which were a staple part of existence in New England until chemical dyes were invented. How quickly knowledge is lost. It makes the Middle Ages after the glory of Rome a lot more understandable.

Natural color takes to wool beautifully, and generally with little more than a pot of boiling water and a good pair of clippers to chop up the harvested plant material. Some plants are…

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5 Things Cis People Can Actually Do For Trans People (Now That You Care About Us)

Wonderful post! It’s always great to learn more and find out how I can be helpful to trans people. Thank you for this well written, educational and insightful post. It is much appreciated and inspires action!

The (Trans)cendental Tourist

It’s been a weird year for trans people.

Allow me to be more specific: It’s been a heated, daring, tumultuous, graphic, specularizing, aggressive, pointed,contentious, highlyfatal, and really, really complicated year for trans people.

Here are a few examples: Kristina Gomez Reinwald, Ty Underwood, Lamia Beard, and many othertranswomen of color have been brutally murdered at the hands of lovers, family members, and strangers.Meanwhile,Laverne Cox and Janet Mock have come to fame and exhibited incrediblefeats of grace, articulation, and poignancy under the gaze ofan eager media. Blake Brockington, Leelah Alcorn, Taylor Alesana, and many other transgender youth have committed suicide afterenduring endless bullying and systematic brutality. Meanwhile, Jazz Jennings became the new face of Clean & Clear and published a children’s picture book about her life, and teen trans couple Arin Andrews and KatieHill (best known for “Can You Even Believe They’re Trans?!” types of headlines) wrote and published individual books…

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“Why Don’t You Wear Dresses?”

Raise your hand if you’ve been asked this question: “Why don’t you wear dresses?” Yep, that’s a lot of hands. And I’m willing to bet good money that everyone who has been confronted with this strange, obnoxious, unanswerable enigma of a question is perceived as a woman. I’ve been asked this all my life and have always kept quiet about it because I could never quite identify why I despise this question so much. Today though, I want to talk about it, partly because it’s just annoying, but mostly because I think this question often has its roots in some harmful assumptions about gender and self expression, and many times, well-intending askers inadvertently cause a lot of annoyance and discomfort for their unsuspecting victims.

I used to be very confused when people asked this. Having grown up in a house surrounded by five acres of towering trees, squishy swamps and bushy salal, my childhood activities largely consisted of tree climbing, bushwhacking, making forts, terrorizing the local deer population (read: attempting to befriend Bambi), riding my bike through the wooded trails and making twiggy, uncomfortable, but fully functional hammocks out of cedar bows. Naturally, I dressed appropriately for my feral flower child activities so, dresses were never a part of my everyday wardrobe. I often associate them with formal-wear, but more than that, I just never really grew accustomed to the feeling of wearing a dress, so when I go clothes shopping, I tend to gravitate towards pants.

Lately, I have been trying to ascertain the correct answer to “Why don’t you wear dresses?” What does that even mean? Do people think that just because they’ve never seen me wear a dress, I have some kind of moral opposition to it? Truth is, I do wear dresses. I even enjoy wearing dresses sometimes. I just prefer pants usually, and somehow that answer never satisfies the inquirers.

Average Inquirer: What are you talking about? You never wear dresses! I’ve never seen you in one!

Me: Yes, but you’ve only known me for 2 years. And you don’t even see me that often. I do wear dresses, it’s just that I haven’t worn one around you.

A.I: You should wear them more often then, you’d look so pretty!

And you know what? I look bitchin’ in a dress. I feel bitchin’ in a dress. I like the flowyness and the old fashioned vibe and the fact that it excuses me from having to match two pieces of clothing in the morning before I’ve even had my coffee. But there is more to life than looking and yes, even feeling sexy. Sometimes I want to wake up, drag my groggy body to the bathroom mirror, look at my Clearasil dotted face and purple insomniac eye-bags and think, “I’m not sexy today at all. I don’t look it, I don’t feel it, and that doesn’t bother me, because I have things to do and thoughts to have and a life to live and those variables are completely independent of my sexiness.” There’s got to be some kind of healthy level of positive-body-apathy for women to attain. I’m not suggesting that women suddenly become negligent of our health, I’m just saying that this obsession with feeling sexually appealing often feels like nothing more than another polite way of binding women to our bodies.

This question calls a lot of attention to gender expectations. Am I, as a girl, supposed to just naturally feel compelled to wear a certain type of clothing? Why does my explanation of “because I prefer pants, they’re more practical” never satisfy people? It often seems like, as a woman practicality is not a valid reason for my actions. As a woman, I am expected to blindly surrender to whatever beauty standards society sets, regardless of its suitability for my lifestyle. Why is the follow up comment always about how pretty I’d look in a dress, and why is it assumed that beauty should be my motivation for me to wear one? If I wear a dress, it may be because it makes me feel attractive, but more likely it’s because it’s hot outside, or I’m attending a formal event, or I’m out of clean pants. Might I also add that this question reinforces the primitive and damaging concept of gendered clothing, something that I believe to be counterproductive in terms of social progress, as well as absolutely preposterous (save for the reasonable sizing variations that arise as a result of anatomical differences). Not to mention, unless they have explicitly asked you, it’s safe to assume that most people are not particularly interested in hearing your evaluation of their expression and style.

More than anything, please consider this: If I like what I’m wearing, kindly let me wear it in peace. This question is uncomfortable for me, because I usually don’t think I’m weird (at least, no weirder than the next person), yet I am forced to question that and wonder if there’s something wrong with me, every time someone asks this. “Why don’t you wear dresses?” may be asked with innocent intentions, but it perpetuates the same benighted stereotypes and societal expectations that humans have been working decades to annihilate, and I hope to see less of this dreadful inquiry in the future.

The Gendered Nature of Being Unencumbered

Such a thoughtful and articulate post! Might I also add that there is a massive lack of respect and appreciation for the caretaking roles that are so often pushed onto women? This is a necessary and important role for any gender to be capable of, but it never gets the recognition it deserves. Also, not only do many men expect women to always be toting supplies around with them, but they don’t hesitate to make fun of us for carrying ‘oversized bags’ everywhere. Glad that I found this post. It’s nice to hear this thought expressed so effectively!

The Span of My Hips

If you ask almost any woman what she would change about women’s clothes I promise you “pockets” would come up about 95% of the time (other answers: sizing consistency, for fuck’s sake; quality construction; larger sizes not just being a size 0 sized up). When I think about my closet I can name four items of clothing with pockets, and two of those are essentially useless cardigan pockets. The few pairs of pants I own don’t even have pockets!

This has been an ongoing irritation for years, and one I’ve lightly thought about in feminist terms, but it’s only recently that I realized how profoundly (the lack of) pockets affects embodiment in very gendered ways.

Earlier this week I was walking from the bus loop to work, aware of the weight of my purse on my shoulder and my tote bag in my hand. And I noticed something interesting. All the…

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Diversity In The Social Ecosystem

Have you ever heard of biodiversity? It’s the variety of different types of life found on Earth. Biological diversity is a strong indicator of a healthy ecosystem and should be conserved and appreciated because of this. I think the concept of biodiversity is absolutely beautiful, because it shines a much needed light on the importance of diversity in general. But diversity isn’t just important in the natural ecosystem. I believe it’s equally vital in the social ecosystem, and I wanted to write about that because I feel like this is something that needs to be talked about more.

This is actually a wonderful time to be alive if you value diversity, because there is so much attention to human rights lately. Same sex marriage was recently legalized throughout Ireland, and shortly after that, in all fifty of the United States. Transgender people are coming into the public eye more and more, people are refusing to ignore racially motivated police brutality… the list grows. The point is, that now, perhaps more than ever, the range of people who our respect and acknowledgement is given to, is expanding rapidly, and hopefully, will continue to do so.

Originally, this post was going to touch on how underappreciated diversity often is and how much I want to see that change. But I want to focus on the positive today, so I’m going to take a little different approach to this subject and point out why diversity’s importance automatically makes you important.

Just by existing, you are contributing to society’s diversity because you are a unique person with unique talents, skills and perspectives to offer the world, and therefore you are important. Your gender, sexuality, race, genetic makeup, your upbringing, the environment and conditions you were born into, the experiences you have had, the people you’ve met, the things you have done, have all shaped your mind and thoughts in an entirely distinctive way and make you your own, individual person. That should be valued and appreciated every day, by the people around you, but also by yourself.

Whether you know it or not, you are beautiful and you matter because you are different. You have something significant to contribute and all you have to do is share yourself with the world. We need you and love you more than either us will ever know.

Kindly Start Using Singular ‘They’ Pronouns. You Have No Excuses Anymore.

This is *another* old post from my old blog. I don’t know why I’m including it on here. I guess the better question is ‘why not?’

If you are unfamiliar with the fact that not everyone identifies with one of the binary genders, and therefore, not everyone is comfortable being referred to with he or she pronouns, I encourage you to educate yourself on that before reading this. Those of you who are aware of this concept are probably also aware that whenever the subject of gender neutral they/them pronouns arises, there’s always that one person who can’t refrain from unsheathing this tired, insipid excuse:

“But ‘they’ is a plural pronoun.”

Correct. ‘They’ is indeed a plural pronoun. ‘They’ can also be used in singular form though, and don’t try to tell me you didn’t know that, because you probably use singular ‘they’ all the time.

Example: you’re driving and someone is tailgating you. You might be annoyed by THEM. Chances are, you can’t tell what THEIR gender is, so in order to accommodate the possibility that THEY could be any gender, perhaps you would say, “Wow, who does this person behind me think THEY are? THEY sure drive like a jerk.”

Unless you are under the erroneous impression that more than one person is driving the vehicle behind you, it’s safe to assume that you have, in fact, just used singular they.

The pronoun ‘they’ is homonymous. There are homonyms all through the English language, yet I doubt you refuse to use the word ‘bark’ to describe the outer layer of a tree just because it can also be used in reference to the sound a dog makes. Ambiguity is everywhere and just because you’ve been conditioned from an early age to maintain a conveniently blind eye to its presence in less controversial contexts, doesn’t change that. So next time someone asks you to use they/them pronouns, you can choose to pedantically pontificate about grammar that you clearly lack an adequate understanding of, or you can take a more sagacious approach and kindly use the damn pronouns.

You would think that, after learning that singular they is grammatically correct after all, most people would see the merit in employing singular they pronouns. The disillusioning reality of the matter is that logic doesn’t pacify everyone. Because of this, there is often a follow-up excuse concerning the usage of them/them pronouns, and it usually looks something like this:

“I’m sorry. If there was an original gender neutral pronoun that wasn’t so confusing, I’d use it, but I just can’t get used to they/them pronouns.”

No. You are not sorry. You are desperately searching for a nonconfrontational way of admitting that you have no interest in being a respectful, socially responsible member of society. Unfortunately for you, there are, in fact, many original, gender neutral alternatives to singular they: Ze, xe, tey, ey, e, thon, fae, vae, ae, ne, xie, sie, zed, ce, co, ve, jee, lee, kye, per, hu, bun, to name a few. Problem solved, right?

“But those are too weird and obscure. No one will know what I’m talking about.”

But isn’t this what you just told me you wanted?

“Yeah, but it has to be a pronoun people are familiar with.”

Enter: singular they. You see the problem here? There are no valid excuses anymore. Singular they is not only grammatically correct, but has been a part of the English language for eons. There are plenty of gender neutral alternatives for people who are still too obstinate to yield to singular they, but as it turns out, these people aren’t actually looking for alternatives, they’re simply looking for an excuse to continue ignoring the existence of genders that don’t fall tidily into their comfy gender binary.