I think the current wisdom is to use people’s current pronouns when describing their past. The major exception is when someone prefers to use their previous pronouns themselves.

I wonder, though, about describing one’s own interactions with someone whose pronouns have changed.

Here’s why I wonder.

Little boys and girls don’t play together much at certain ages (ages which vary depending on culture). They don’t much want to either.

Referring to a childhood acquaintance as a little boy doesn’t accurately describe the experience of little girls playing together.

Referring to a childhood acquaintance as a little girl, doesn’t accurately represent the experience of the he-man woman haters club.


Oh the difference!

On a run the other day a man roughly my age leered and yelled  “Looking good!” 

About half a mile later a woman perhaps twenty years older than I, walking with her daughter’s help, smiled and gave me a thumbs up. Her daughter smiled too.


Maybe, as a conventionally good looking woman, I’m the wrong person to say this. I’m going to say it anyway.

I’m tired of “beauty at any age”, and “beauty at any size”, “beautiful inside”, “discover your true beauty” and all the rest of the beauty based affirmations.

These affirmations feed into the belief that beauty (however a society defines it) and worthiness are equivalent.

Do you believe that? Do you want to believe that courage and wisdom and kindness and strength and all other good qualities are “inner beauty”?

I don’t.

What do you think of when I say “outer courage”?

Or “visible virtue”?

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m well aware that the equation of beauty and virtue is woven into our language and thought. (After all, I started this post calling myself “good-looking”.)

Even so, I’d like to separate beauty and virtue, rather than further entwining them.

Spread peace and happiness…

Or not.

I had just finished my run. I heard a man’s voice call my name so I turned.

I guess it wasn’t my name because a total stranger called out “Looking good!”

I said nothing.

Him: “Can I hit that?”


Him: “C’mon! It’s Christmas!”

Me:Not a fucking chance.”

If I were a sensible person I’d have been scared. But I’m not sensible.

Distribute emotion wisely

I was reading a story of infidelity and forgiveness. I get being angry at your significant other’s affair partner. That is, I understand the mechanism: if you want to keep your partner tout have to forgive your partner. To forgive, you may need to push all the fault onto the other person in the affair.

Even so, I don’t understand getting more angry with the affair partner as time goes by.

I think this is because I don’t believe the narrative of “she made me do it” that men often offer up. I have yet to meet a man who was truthful in claiming that he had no part in the flirtation leading up to the affair. Women I know who have cheated on men, or who had affairs with married men, acknowledged they were going there.

I believe the increasing anger at an affair partner stems from the (unacknowledged) recognition that your own partner is still pretty shifty about the affair. Over time you realize he did more wrong than you’d known originally. Bringing this realization into the open would lead to open conflict. So you don’t.

Poll worker rants

Rant 1:

Don’t shove your ID in my face. I can’t anything in this light, especially not tiny print. I can’t concentrate on your ID when I’m trying to look you up in a book.

Rant 2:

For goodness sake! Every ballot in NY state history has “party lines.” “Vote the party line” has a literal meaning.

Rant 3:

Oh come on! “Pick one” shouldn’t be difficult.

Rant 4:

Don’t throw out other people’s pieces of paper. Really. Just don’t.