Note: this post is pretty much all introspection and reflection.
This year, to some extent, I am re-learning how to write. I have been told by multiple different people that I have a very strong authorial voice, which might be a good thing if I didn’t sound to other people vaguely like I’m an extra from Eastenders. Actually, I think my authorial voice sounds a bit like a ‘phone voice’: the written form of my slightly more polished speaking voice that I use in professional contexts when I’m not so nervous I forget to use my ‘professional voice’, and where I’m not so comfortable that I don’t need to use it. It’s a trying hard voice.
In previous academic writing (whether for assessment or for publication) I have tended to put my own voice up front and include references to link to work that has influenced this thinking. In my PhD there is a lot more words available to fill and more need to explain in detail the work that I am using, and this means that I have needed to use pronouns more extensively in my work than ever before.
Pronouns not included
I am constantly surprised that even in explicitly queer work pronouns are not usually included. Without this explicit inclusion, academia is expecting me to guess/assume authors’ pronouns, something which I resist. In everyday interactions I try really hard to use they/them pronouns for anyone who’s pronouns I don’t know. Now, although I have tried this out in my academic writing, it feels a bit different. In academia, of course neutralising everyone’s pronouns prevents me from making gendered assumptions, but I also feel risks invisibilising women’s contributions. Women’s voices are so under-represented in academia and so under-cited, that it feels somewhat wrong to neutralise everyone’s identities unless proven otherwise, particularly in an environment that does not routinely allow us to state our pronouns. Indeed, when I sent off the publication I wrote using my MSc data I was asked for a bio and I provided one, and included in it my pronouns. That bio never made it to my journal article; in fact I’m not sure what happened to it.
It would be nice if it was acceptable for academics to be able to state their pronouns and have them published alongside names and institutional affiliation. It would be nice if more people put their pronouns in their email signatures and their Twitter bios. But this just isn’t standard practice at the moment. So I’d love to hear what other people do. I’m sure that I am not the only person thinking about these things!