Lately, the pop singer Demi Lovato has been on quite the journey for publicity — sorry, self-discovery. After coming out as “queer,” and then pansexual, she has now decided that she is non-binary and will be using they/them pronouns from this point forward, or at least until a trendier option presents itself. The mainstream media has been all over this breaking news, and the headlines have been as weird and headache-inducing as you might expect.
In an article confusingly titled “Demi Lovato announces they are non-binary and changing their pronouns,” CBS News reported the following:
Singer Demi Lovato has announced that they are non-binary and are changing their pronounces to they/them. They said the “revelation” followed “a lot of healing and self-reflective work.” In a Twitter video early Wednesday morning introducing their new podcast, the pop singer says they don’t identify as male or female. On their podcast, Lovato said that “it would mean the world” if people used their correct pronouns, but they will “be accepting” if people accidentally use she/her pronouns, and just “want them to be making the effort.
If you went into a coma sometime in the year 2015 and had just now woken up, the preceding paragraph would seem rather bewildering. You would be forgiven for assuming that “Demi Lovato” is the name for some sort of group or collective. If you heard someone say, “I saw Demi Lovato in concert and they were really good,” you would immediately conclude that Demi Lovato is an entire band, not one person. This conclusion would be justified, as it would be based on the rules of the English language. Little would you know that Demi Lovato is a single individual, and also that she’s not good in concert.
For the record, here his Lovato herself explaining why she has made this change:
Living in the fourth dimension means existing consciously in both time and space. But for me it means having conversation that transcend the typical discourse. I want to take this moment to share something very personal with you. Over the past year and a half I’ve been doing some healing and self-reflective work. And through the work I’ve had the revelation that I identify as non-binary. With that said, I will be officially changing my pronouns to they/them. I feel that this best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression, and allows me to feel most authentic and true to the person I both know I am and still am discovering.
It’s helpful that she began her explanation the way that she did so that it would be painfully clear that the whole thing is nothing but ridiculous psychobabble. Living in the fourth dimension means existing consciously in both time and space? What is that supposed to mean? And what other option do we have but to exist consciously in both time and space? Can I exist consciously in space but not time? Can I exist in neither? Can I be a spaceless, timeless, shapeless vapor, floating aimlessly through an eternal abyss? I suppose it is only a matter of days before Demi Lovato assumes that identity for herself — or for themselves.
As I have often argued, the proliferation of these ambiguous alternative identities is really a proliferation of narcissism. Lovato can’t explain what identifying as non-binary means. She can’t tell us how she arrived at this conclusion about herself. None of this can be made coherent because it doesn’t mean anything. What she is really trying to say is that she is more complex and interesting than the average person. She is not sure who she is, but she is sure that whoever she is, she must not be what everyone else is. Her identity transcends all labels — except the 15 different labels she has given herself over the last six months.
But that is her concern. She is free to play whatever word games she wants to play, and she is free to make whatever claims about herself that she wants to make. The problem is that we are not simply asked to leave people alone and let them live how they want and identify how they want. It is now demanded that we participate, that we take active roles in affirming and supporting the self-identity of strangers.
I am fine with leaving people alone. If I hear through the grapevine that my neighbor three doors down identifies as a cantaloupe, I am not going to go knock on his door and scream at him to leave his cantaloupe fantasies behind. But if I am told that I must in any way affirm or reinforce the cantaloupe delusion, then I will have to respectfully decline. He can think whatever he wants but he cannot force me to think it, or to pretend that I think it. I am not intruding on his life when I protest or resist such an imposition. Rather, I am stopping him from intruding on mine. He might live in a world where men can be cantaloupes, but I do not. I live in the real world and would like to remain here. That is my lifestyle choice and I will insist that it be respected.
And so it goes with pronouns. A pronoun is a grammatical construct. It is part of language. It is not a pet that you can own or a fashion accessory that can wear. You don’t get your own pronouns, just as you don’t get your own prepositions or adverbs. I suppose a man might have a special affinity for the preposition “on,” but that doesn’t change what the word “on” means. If he is not sitting on the chair, but says that he identifies as sitting on it because his preferred preposition is “on,” that would not change his actual physical relationship to the chair in real life. And by demanding that we all pretend that the word “on” means “off” and “off” means “on,” he is the one trying to impose himself on us — or off us, as the case may be. For the sake of preserving language as a tool for conveying meaning — which is the whole reason language exists — we would have to resist these efforts.
In the English language, the word “he” is a pronoun that refers to males. “She” refers to females. Pronouns are not determined by feelings. We don’t use pronouns to describe a person’s self-perception. Pronouns are generally concerned with physical states, not psychological states. As for the pronouns “they,” we are meant to use it when referring either to multiple people or to an unknown person. It would be perfectly valid to say, for example, “Look, someone left their wallet here. I hope they come back for it.” It would not be valid to say, “Look, my friend George left their wallet here. I hope they come back for it.” I know who George is. I know that he is a male. I know that he is only one person, not siamese twins. The word “they” would be deceptive and confusing, and it would fail to convey proper meaning — which, again, is the entire point of language.
It’s true that language evolves over time, but the “preferred pronoun” phenomenon is not an example of linguistic evolution. The people pushing this change are indeed pushing it, not merely observing that it has already happened. It is top-down engineering, not an organic development. The cultural Powers That Be have decided that certain words should no longer mean what they have always meant, though they cannot be bothered to tell us what those words should mean now instead. They are, by force and coercion, attempting to remove the meaning from words without replacing the words with new meaning. Language develops naturally in order to better convey meaning over time. In our case, language is being manipulated intentionally in order to make it less meaningful. That is a very different thing.
Language matters. We cannot have a society without it. Truth matters. We cannot have a society worth living in without it. We are witnessing an attack on both language and truth, and thus on society. And we are going to need to muster the backbone to oppose it.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.