North Texas Daily

Pronouns are not contingent on a person’s behavior

Pronouns are not contingent on a person’s behavior

Pronouns are not contingent on a person’s behavior
June 23
14:00 2022

It’s likely that anyone whose been on Twitter in the last few months has seen “Ezra Miller” trending for reasons unrelated to the “Flash” movie they are set to star in.

Miller started to display problematic behavior in 2017 when they repeatedly kissed a fan at a San Diego Comic-Con without clear consent. Since then, they’ve had no shortage of unhealthy and criminal behavior making headlines. As with any controversy, people flocked to social media to share their opinions on Miller. Discussions concerned their crimes, their movie roles and for some reason, their gender identity.

Miller has said in interviews and on their now-deleted Instagram that they use they/them pronouns. In online discussions about Miller, they are often misgendered and those that use the correct pronouns are mocked with a meme that implies Miller’s crimes negate their pronoun preference.

What some people don’t understand though, is by disregarding Miller’s correct identity, they are also harming the entire community of people who exclusively use they/them pronouns.

The openly queer star broke into the public eye in 2012 after starring in the movie, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and had a relatively indie film career until joining larger franchises such as the DC Extended Universe and the “Fantastic Beasts” trilogy in 2016. After the incident at Comic-Con, Miller’s behavior continued when they appeared to choke a woman in a video that surfaced on Twitter in 2020. Since then, Miller has reportedly committed several crimes including, on separate occasions, harassment and assault.

A judge granted a couple that Miller lived with in Hawaii a restraining order against the actor, while two protective orders have also been issued against Miller — one by a family who accused Miller of grooming and providing drugs to their 18-year-old child.

Miller’s gender identity has nothing to do with their crimes or them being a terrible person. The idea that gender or pronouns can be revoked when someone does something unfavorable is completely untrue and misses the point of what people should be angry about in Miller’s case.

If a friend or someone you knew was being a jerk, it wouldn’t make sense to call them by the wrong pronouns whether they were cisgender or nonbinary. The issues are so unrelated that in the Venn diagram of “having your pronouns respected” and “being a good person,” the circles are not even touching.

It is normal to be angry at someone for being a bad person – what isn’t normal is getting angry at being unable to misgender a person who is a criminal or bad person. It makes someone seem like they were looking for an excuse to misgender people, and the actual crimes were more of an afterthought.

This isn’t only about pronouns — if your first thought when a public figure commits a bad act is the excitement that you can now mock everything about them — this concerns you too. People should ensure righteous anger is directed at the actual problem, and not just used as an excuse to tear others down.

Another example of thinly disguised hatefulness that took place recently was how social media reacted to the Amber Heard and Johnny Depp court case. The internet decided since Heard is now a bad person she is free game to mock mercilessly. All sorts of misogynistic jokes were made about her looks or acting skills and the hate went far beyond the defamation the court case was actually about.

Movie stars are not the only ones free from these poorly aimed attacks. Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump behaved in ways that could’ve easily been criticized. Yet, while Trump provided so much free ammunition to his enemies, oftentimes he was mocked for his body weight or hand size rather than for his subpar governing.

A list of low-blow attacks would be inexhaustible, and days could be spent looking into this mostly online phenomenon. The bottom line is when someone does something problematic, people should criticize their actions rather than their identities or physical traits.

Celebrities usually won’t see the way you attack them, but now your nonbinary friend will know your respect is conditional.

The woman who faced domestic abuse knows how the world might see her. That stranger who has a body like Trump knows how you see them. Be angry that Ezra Miller did bad things — don’t be mad that they have different pronouns.

Featured Illustration by Erika Sevilla

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John Anderson

John Anderson

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