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Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ for Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a Maoist global perspective
What’s up with your spellings, and what do they mean?
|Amerika||America (as in USA)|
|AmeriKKKa||America (as in USA)|
|United $tates/united $tates||United States|
|united $nakes/united snakes||United States|
|eir||her, his, their (in a singular sense)|
|em||her, him, them (in a singular sense)|
|emself||herself, himself, themselves (in a singular sense)|
|ey||he, she, they (in a singular sense)|
|their (same)||their (in a plural sense)|
|them (same)||them (plural)|
|themselves (same)||themselves (plural)|
|they (same)||they (plural)|
|female child/girl child, adolescent female||girl|
|male child/boy child, adolescent male||boy|
|child, young persyn||kid|
|occupied Aotearoa||New Zealand|
|occupied Azania||South Africa|
|occupied Boricua||Puerto Rico|
|northern/north Korea||North Korea|
|southern/south Korea||South Korea|
This list isn’t exhaustive. Other terms used on this website (mostly specific concepts, not alternative spellings or terms): Aztlán, BGLTQ, Black nation (New Afrika), Brown/Latin@ nations, Euro-Amerika, First Nations, occupied Mexico, proletarian nations, exploiter-majority countries.
From studying the issues, MIM-Orchid knows the kind of writing in PINotes is actually easier for many to internalize in the long term with some of these spellings. After reading a publication that uses the spellings consistently, you might wonder why somebody would use an old or conventional spelling. Spelling choices convey information and have connotations; the point is not just to be different or sound angry. Some of the spellings, such as “AmeriKKKa,” have a long history in revolutionary and radical movements.
Post-modernists often put too much emphasis on language questions. One shouldn’t forget revolutionary goals and how to actually reach them in a comprehensive way. After getting over the strangeness of some of these spellings, though, some may find it easier to recognize the substance of writing.
Another reason for some of these spellings has to do with the complexity of gender and a specific need to be clear and precise. For example, much use of “men” in English-speaking countries is confusing, referring to humyns in general, males (cis and/or transgender), or people with certain characteristics, chromosomes, or organs, in situations where it might be important to specify male adults or note that many male children and people with some “male” biology are actually gender-oppressed or female socially speaking in terms of position under patriarchy. Despite various ambiguities and the existence of people who are neither female nor male, terms such as “male adult,” which is often preferable to “man,” are still useful with clarifying context.
“Bio-womyn” in contrast with “womyn” (socially-speaking), but not equivalent to “cis woman,” has been used in the past. Apart from not necessarily clarifying the status of wimmin as a social group (“bio-womyn” appears to inherit meaning from “womyn”), “bio-womyn”/”bio-wimmin” can be confusing in the context of children and transgender people. Other terms, together with some discussion or adjectives, may be preferable.
“Womyn” acknowledges the historically female identity or classification of most gender-oppressed people and expresses disagreement with certain religious and psychological notions of females being derivative/deviant or incomplete/repressed males. In contexts where the issues involved in use of “womyn,” as opposed to “woman,” are already understood and it isn’t necessary to refer to a particular sex (female, male, or third+ or non-dichotomous sex), a phrase such as “people who are gender-oppressed” or “people who are patriarchally oppressed” may be appropriate.
Eir/em/emself/ey are singular versions of their/them/themselves/they. They may be used to refer to individuals even when their sex is known. Eir/em/emself/ey has precedent in the English language, and many have frequently used “they” in a singular sense to refer to an individual of known or unknown sex. Issues of sexual difference and reproduction are still important in society (not in ways conventionally thought), but the sex-unspecific singular third-persyn pronouns also help to avoid problems involving prejudice, misleading gender/social (not the same thing as sexual) or political connotations, suggesting oppressors are only male (when oppressors of unknown sex are referred to with he/him/his) when half or almost half of a group of oppressors may be female, and misleading ideas about individuals.
English-speakers will find that if they use gender-neutral language more often, the response will often be homophobic or as though masculinity, females or Western sexuality (confused with sexuality itself) were under attack. It is not that only heterosexuals, males or whites are oppressors in the First World, but PINotes doesn’t cater to Western white males or females though all are encouraged to read and oppose militarism and imperialism. Alleged communist movements in the West have alternated between anti-feminism and pseudo-feminism, which can include coming up with supposedly new reasons to hold up Western culture (propping up differences that First World females cling to because of patriarchal privilege) as superior and bashing Islam and other Third World culture.
• “Attacking the myth of binary biology: MIM(Prisons) eliminates gendered language,” 2015 December. http://www.prisoncensorship.info/article/attacking-the-myth-of-binary-biology-mimprisons-eliminates-gendered-language/ MIM-Orchid is in much agreement with this article.
• “Clarity on what gender is,” 1998 March. http://www.prisoncensorship.info/archive/etext/wim/cong/gender98b.html
• “The oppression of children under patriarchy,” 1995 June. http://www.prisoncensorship.info/archive/etext/mt/mt9child.html
[This page is under construction. More entries coming.]