Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.


I just received a professional email from somebody who signs as “Dr. Jenny Smith*, pronouns she/her/hers.” Since I can’t imagine an occasion to refer to her in the third person in a correspondence between the two of us, this creeps me out. Or is she suggesting that I should write “so what does she think about this title for the session?” instead of “what do you think?”

I don’t know how to interact with this person now and I don’t know why I should want to. I’m afraid there will be Lean In quotes in her future communications. 

Do people have nothing better to do with their lives, I wonder?

*Obviously, I changed the name. 


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20 thoughts on “Creepy

  1. Alex the Physicist on said:

    She’s letting everyone know that she’s sensitive to issues of gender identity.


  2. Shakti on said:

    All names are unisex now.


    • What’s the point of her and hers, though? Can anybody be she, her, his? Or he, her, his? Why repeat it three times? Because it’s magical?


      • Shakti on said:

        It’s to help people who don’t understand pronouns anymore. Of course there are people go for ze/zir/zis/hir(s) but maybe a lot of people have trouble with those pronouns because English isn’t their first language. Or maybe this person is trans.

        To me, if you are not trans and your name would be considered clearly masculine or feminine by most people you meet, the whole “pronouns” thing is an affectation.

        My actual nickname is gender neutral, but my full first name is not.


        • JProf on said:

          “the whole ‘pronouns’ thing is an affectation”–I agree with this, but depending on whom you interact with, the failure to list your pronouns like many trans people (have to) do could be considered a manifestation of cisgender privilege.


          • Why, why did I have to come across the weird person? I was sitting here quietly and inoffensively, minding my own business. Oy.


          • Shakti on said:

            Ok, but listing my pronouns isn’t going to make that cisgender privilege go away or mollify it for anyone. It doesn’t actually change how I’d interact with trans people in any meaningful way.
            I mean, half of one six dozen of another. I’m sure some trans people have “name privilege” in that people think their names are white.

            Here: Employers’ Replies to Racial Names I’ve been outright told that I should change my name to get more responses to job applications. There are many, many examples of actors getting more work after they “de-ethnicize” their names for more Anglo stage names. Nobody named Jennifer anything (one of the most common US girls name from 1975-mid 80s) is going to come at me for not listing pronouns in addition to my multisyllabic ethnic name which I’ve already shortened for the likes of dumb asses who expect me to pronounce Polish names with extraneous consonants but can’t manage the two syllables of my first name. I already do enough for the convenience of stupid people. FOH.


            • I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m with you 100%>


            • JProf on said:

              “Ok, but listing my pronouns isn’t going to make that cisgender privilege go away or mollify it for anyone.” True. But it’s the additional “labor” argument–you recognize your cisgender privilege and show solidarity with trans people by listing your pronouns because many trans people always have to tell others what their pronouns are.

              Of course, I personally don’t buy into these superficial strategies to combat discrimination…


            • lurker on said:

              Pronouncing and spelling Polish names:


  3. JProf on said:

    FYI: My pronouns are he, her, and theirs. I just thought I’d mix it up a bit and increase my chances of being able to accuse someone else of misgendering me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, I am told we are supposed to do this now. Sigh.


  5. AnonP on said:

    Is this maybe someone who has a masculine name (you said you changed the name) and is fed up to be addressed Dear Sir all the time?


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