A couple of items in the news caught my attention this morning.
Today, September 27th 2021, is the beginning of National Inclusion Week. Given that inclusion means the state of being included, I was intrigued to find out more. Apparently, Inclusion Week is ‘designed to celebrate everyday inclusion in all its forms and is about unity.’ Okay, but what do these words mean and what do the ‘thousands of inclusioneers worldwide’ actually do? If I want to become an inclusioneer, how would I embrace the theme ‘Each One, Reach One’?
Leaving aside these important questions, what led me to National Inclusion Week was the announcement that the occupants of Her Majesty’s high-security prison on the Isle of Wight would be participating in the joyful inclusion events of this week and that prisoners would be offered lilac-coloured name badges proclaiming the pronoun they identify with—he/him, she/her, they/them and even an ask me badge. This particular high-security prison is said to house a number of offenders who identify as transgender and, I believe, is the reason the badges have been made. It’s so that visitors such as parole board officials, family and friends, missionaries, and even casual visitors who turn up unannounced make sure they use the prisoner’s choice of pronoun in their conversations.
How will this work? If I’m having a face-to-face conversation with someone, I would use a personal gender-neutral pronoun such as you or your in my address—‘How are you today? Are you getting enough food? Have you changed your underwear and socks since last we met?’ Where is the opportunity to look at the prisoner’s badge and use the preferred-gender pronoun? I wouldn’t say, ‘How are they today? Are they getting…’, would I?
Maybe the pronoun is for use in a written report:
Mum’s Diary, Stardate 12109.27. I met with our Sydney today in his new place on the Isle of Wight. They was looking a bit pasty but otherwise they seems to have settled in nicely and made some new friends named Bert, Alfred and Silas. He, she and they live next door and I gave him an apple, her an orange, and them a banana; not them meaning all of them, just Silas.
If today’s date was April 1st, I would suspect that this article about preferred pronoun badges was a Fool’s Day joke. But the date is not April 1st and the news of these pronoun badges is reported on several websites. Maybe September 27th is the new April 1st?
The other news item that caused me to sit up and pay attention was this photograph of a young woman at some event. Apparently, her name is Olivia Rodrigo, she’s an 18-year-old American singer-songwriter and actress, and this is how she chose to appear at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opening Gala in Los Angeles on September 25th. My immediate reaction was she appears to have The Man in Black, or Casper the Friendly Ghost wearing black, plastered upright against her body with his nose buried in her navel and his hands grasping her… er… er… whatever he could find in order not to slip off. If it’s Casper, he’s certainly being very friendly.
There is no doubt in my mind that Olivia Rodrigo’s preferred pronouns are she/her. I wonder what she will wear at the Golden Globe Awards in January 2022?
PS. Actually, thinking about it, I now understand the National Inclusion Week’s theme of ‘Each One, Reach One’!