Some of you have spoken to me before. On the phone. Through video. In person. There’s no trace of a residual accent. I moved to California when I was 2 years old. I can hardly speak my mother tongue.

“You sound so Californian!” some of you have exclaimed, and then (incorrectly), “Are you from LA?” No, you’re thinking of a different valley. (I’m Silicon). The slight valley girl slant you hear in my voice—I don’t mind the mistake.

But there’s one little attribute, strangely, left over from the language I would have spoken, that I once did speak so fluently. More than fluently. I memorized poetry in it when I was a little over a year old. And that one pesky little characteristic that follows me still, that invades my speech like a puff of happiness, is that if a sentence in English is just a little bit complex, I’ll mix up the pronouns.

I don’t do it like my mother does, in simple sentences, because she is so complex. I won’t even do it when I convey information briefly. “She asked him if he would run that report for her.” That’s fine. But throw in a few more turns, maybe another person or two, and I have to think. “Why would he accuse her of never asking him to do that when a supervisor noted it in her report and she said otherwise that morning when she called him in?” I’ll mess that up.

And. It’s because in my mother tongue, we don’t use “she” or “he.” Everyone has one pronoun, the same pronoun, adjusted to singular or to plural or to familiarity. That’s a true neutral.

So when you come around here, talking about how “he” is neutral for the God/dess, that I should never use “She” because “HE IS NEUTRAL!”—you scream in enraged tantrums—what you sound like to me is nothing short of what you actually are: uncultured swine.

You don’t know language. You only speak primitive languages that rely on gendered pronouns. English. Arabic. French. Primitive, just like you. You will never understand that as long as she exists—and you have tried very hard to erase her existence—he will never be neutral. You will never understand true neutrality; the kind the Qur’an speaks of is unimaginable to you. You won’t understand the points the Qur’an is making when it critiques the constraints of the Arabic language. You. Don’t. Speak. The. Right. Language. Your ancestors did not DIE for their language. Your mind is so small that you cannot fathom it. You cannot imagine a language with true neutrals, even as it exists in the same plane as you.

Don’t try to teach me. A dog would fare better at teaching a bird to sing.

One thought on “Pronouns

  1. Pingback: The Feminine in God by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


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