Tag Archives: NYT Magazine

Who’s ‘They’? – The New York Times

From last Sunday’s NYT Magazine, called “Who’s They” online and “Multiple Choice” in the dead trees edition:

In December, the Post copy editor Bill Walsh called “they” “the only sensible solution to English’s lack of a gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun,” with “sensible” being the key word. The singular “they” gained favor with The Post’s standard-bearer partly because the presumptive “he” “hasn’t been palatable for decades,” but also because a generic “she” feels “patronizing” and “attempts at made-up pronouns” — like “xe,” “xim,” and “xir” — strike Walsh as “silly.”

But then, ten years ago, wouldn’t we have thought “text” as a verb or “blog” as any sort of word at all were silly?   How about “tweet”?   Or earlier, “fax”?  “Email”?

Xe, xim, and xir maybe new, unfamiliar, not-yet-widely-adopted, or (is it just me?) hard to pronounce, but they are not silly.

Asshole.*

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* Widely-adopted pronoun indicating (among others things) an arrogant, misguided fool.  Example: “Hey, asshole, take a sec to think about the fact that you sound like a cis-privileged old fart before you publish.”

Cryopastavore

So it turns out “femivore” is neither a misogynistic zombie movie nor lesbian porn. No – just another example of middle class white people doing random things and calling it a movement.

As the New York Times Magazine article explained, femivores are “are stay-at-home moms, highly educated women who left the work force to care for kith and kin.”* Apparently bereft of things to obsess about at work — and finding ordinary shopping and cooking too mundane — femivores raise their own fruits, vegetables, and livestock, make their own soap, and otherwise imitate our frontier foremothers, only with “a green political agenda” rather than a desperate need to feed and clothe the family before winter comes to the plains.

The movement “has provided an unexpected out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming Betty Draper.”** In other words, you quit your professional job because your husband makes enough money, but you don’t want to feel like your mother, so you overthink the role of housewife and decide to raise and kill your own chickens. Then, just to be certain no one confuses you with Mrs. Brady — or with women who actually work, and have to work, on actual farms — you slap a name on it: Femivore.

Now, it’s true that my friend Carrie — who emphatically does *not* fall into the navel-gazing demographic at the focus of the NYT Magazine article — also started raising chickens and ducks. But I’m convinced she did this primarily for the opportunity to name them “Sesame,” “Soup” and “Enchilada.” The opportunity to appear in Chicken Court to defend her fowl was also, I think, appealing. It was, alas, unsuccessful, as the learned judge in Windsor, Colorado had evidently not kept up with the latest trends in the Times Mag.

Being a femivore is the next step after becoming a locavore — the movement designed to persuade us to buy things grown locally at farmer’s markets (good) and to make us feel guilty about buying yummy or convenient things that were transported to our favorite chain grocery store in plastic and on trucks (bad). But if I didn’t eat yummy convenient things that the nice people at Safeway truck to me in plastic, I’d starve. And because I’m a highly educated middle class white person who can overthink with the best of them, I’d like the NYT Magazine to turn my food habits into a movement, complete with a name. Herewith a couple of suggestions.

Cryopastavore. Mostly what I eat is frozen pasta. You’d be amazed the different things you can do with tortellini. Although God knows they’re not paying for advertising, I can seriously say that this blog is made possible by the Buitoni company. And Equal Exchange (I’m also a “cafavore”). And New Belgium (Locabev? It’s a Colorado brewery, get it? No? OK, never mind.)

Extradomavore: That was my attempt at a Latin-derived term for “orders out all the damn time.” I know how to cook approximately three things besides frozen pasta, and all of my friends have had all three dishes multiple times. My mother’s advice was, it’s easier to get new friends than to learn to cook new dishes. Rather than ditching my friends, I’ve been lucky enough to hang with folks who like eating out, carrying out, and — bless them! — taking over my kitchen and making awesome things from utensils I didn’t even know I had. So maybe I’m an . . .

Amicavore: Eating the cooking of my amazingly talented friends. You know who you are. Come back. Soon. I promise to buy new utensils.

None of these movements lets me feel holier than anyone, though, as femivores clearly feel holier than cryopastavores. There is only one thing I do around the house that makes me feel holier than anyone else: I hang up my laundry. (I have to ask my paralegal for the Latin term for that.) It’s really a perfect movement for klutzes like me: it requires no talent or special equipment. I guess I should have checked to see if Restoration Hardware had the perfect matched set of clothespins, but being primarily a law nerd (we need a movement too!), I have been hanging up my socks with … binder clips!

Now I just have to get the NYT Mag to write about it. Hey! Over here! A white person doing something totally mundane! Call the story editor!

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*Does the NYT Magazine have some sort of cliche guidelines? Where do they get prose like that?

** Seriously, where?