Misgendered by Whom?

Neil deGrasse Tyson is determining Rudolf's gender based on Rudolf's anatomical features.

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  1. I appreciate that a scientist takes the view that Rudolf's gender can be determined by Rudolf's anatomical features. But from what I understand not everyone agrees with that ….
  2. I'd listen more to whether Santa knows Zoology if the physicists knew more about reindeer flight.
  3. As a correspondent of mine noted, the Rudolph story is thus "actually about female bullying (mean girls)." Perhaps the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

NEXT: Proof Die Hard Is a Christmas Movie

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  1. The key question is how does Rudolf identify, not what physical features xhe has.

    1. Yes, the problem is easily resolved, just find Rudolph, and ask which gender is accurate.

  2. I still think Reindeer Games sounds like a Tom Clancy novel.

    1. No, it's a Ben Affleck action movie...

  3. Rudolf is a marginalized LGBT reindeer.

    1. He gets the front position in the pack? How marginalized can he be?

      1. Rudolf is the one that will run into the wolves first. Like, check that cave for Taliban, report back.

        1. Wolves fly, too? Wow, there is a lot about fictional zoology I don't know.

          1. There are also flying pesky, entitled kids, demanding their presents, at outrageous prices.

      2. Giving Rudolf the front position just because xis nose glows is totally ableist.

        1. By standard, an aircraft should have a red light on the left side, not the centerline. This helps other aircraft navigate. When it's moving on the ground, the red lights should be located on the back side.

          1. Quick, call the FAA! They need to ground Santa Claus!

            1. NORAD has been tracking him for decades.

  4. Gender is a social concept. The word to describe biological differences is "sex"

    This is actually VERY well defined in the biological literature when referring to sex-based differences in animal studies. The word to be used is "sex." Never gender. Animals don't have gender.

    When Tyson makes his tweet, he betrays his ignorance in this area.

    1. Well actually*, "the reindeer" has a masculine gender in Norwegian -- "reinen". So, regardless of sex, Rudolf's gender should be masculine.

      NB. Since I'm American, I know that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole. Furthermore, Rudolf was created by Johnny Marks, an American songwriter, who I trust understood this as well as I do. Hence the use of Norwegian as the reference language rather than Sápmi.

      I'll leave the gender of the species in that language to someone who has more knowledge. (I have no idea whether Sápmi is gendered.)

      Which is to say that gender is a grammatical issue that is important in gendered languages like Norwegian, but has absolutely nothing to do with sex, except by accident.

      And yes, Tyson is ... I'll be kind and simply say "an example of why one should avoid appeals to irrelevant authority."

      * It's important to begin this sort of pedantry in the traditional manner. 😎

      1. It seems that I was incorrect about the creation of Rudolf, ascribing it to the songwriter rather than the poet.

        Mea culpa.

        But since he was also American, the argument stands.

        😎

        1. "It seems that I was incorrect about the creation of Rudolf"

          Wonder if you'd have had better luck on the background check on Rudolph?

      2. Remember, animals don't have a gender. They have a sex

        1. "Reinen*" -- "the reindeer", has a masculine gender in Norwegian. Similarly, "das Pferd" -- "the horse" has a neuter gender in German ("hesten" -- "the horse" in Norwegian, has a masculine gender).

          "The animal", "dyret" or "das Tier" is neuter in both languages. So in that sense, you're absolutely correct.

          * Norwegian uses a suffix for the definite article while the indefinite article is a separate grapheme. Here, that would be "en rein" or "a reindeer".

        2. "Remember, animals don’t have a gender. They have a sex"

          Remember, some animals don't have a sex. And for some others, it isn't a fixed constant. This was a significant plot point to Jurassic Park.

      3. This is why I come to this blog, to learn the grammatical gender of Rudolf in Norwegian.

        1. Just wait till New Years. We'll be getting lessons in Sanskrit grammar.

    2. "Gender is a social concept. The word to describe biological differences is “sex”"

      The most common use of the word "gender" in this context is as a synonym for "sex". Gender theorists are free to define their own terms in the context of gender theory, of course. But outside of that context, most people use "sex" and "gender" interchangeably.

      1. "But outside of that context..."

        And they are incorrect to do so, especially when talking about animals. Animals don't have genders. They have sexes.

        If you're arguing that a reindeer is a certain "gender" as a results of biological sex aspects, that's incorrect. Animals don't have gender.

        Gender and sex are not strict synonomys

        1. "And they are incorrect to do so..."

          Says who? Unless you believe in some sort of supreme language being, words are defined by how people use them.

          1. In the prescriptivist universe, using words incorrectly means using them in a way that does not match the official orthodoxy of the prescribed language.
            In the descriptivist universe, using words incorrectly means using them in a way that keeps other people from understanding what you meant to tell them.

        2. Animals, (Humans are animals, too.) have sexes. Words have genders. Reindeer is a word, and thus can have a gender.

          1. "Words have genders."

            Unless, you know, you're using English at the time. Learning arbitrary genders for words is a big part of why I only use one language, and the one is English. Sorry Latin and all your modern-day descendants, but it's just stupid to assign gender to nouns.

    3. Didn't the supreme court (Goresuch) just say that the prohibition on sex discrimination also forbids gender discrimination?

      That's why it's so important to vet Supreme Court justices thoroughly, not only do they rewrite the law, they also rewrite the dictionaries.

  5. Is there nothing the attention whore NDT will not inject himself into?

    1. Flight-ER-Doc: Wasn't it just a bit of a light-hearted joke (of the "how fast would Santa need to travel to get to everyone's house on Christmas" variety)? Seems fair game for anyone ....

      1. Prof V, it's hard to say without context. DeGrasse Tyson does have the ugly habit of assuming expertise in fields where he has none, perhaps peculiar to post-industrial society and academe in particular. I suspect that this is why his comments tend to grate on some, to include YT.

        1. I was surprised that NDT was able to look past his training and assumptions and embrace Intellegent Design as a viable theory for the existence of the universe.

          https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-we-live-in-a-simulation-chances-are-about-50-50/

          1. Intelligent Design is an extremely viable theory for the existence of, well, everything. What it is not is a scientific theory.

            Now, back up and consider the possibility that God created the Universe about 20 billion years ago, and set it in motion, then waited for the shepherds of the fields to start wondering where it all came from, and then told them a story that condensed the whole process into six days. Then, when the scientists show up claiming it would have taken longer than six days, He hardens your heart so that you won't listen to them.

      2. Professor V: "How Fast is simply pedantic. NDT is an insufferable twatwaffle who hasn't been in the news lately - So he inserts himself.

        What did his comments do to add to the boundaries of human knowledge? Or are they just an attempt to show how 'woke' he is?

        ProTip for NDT: You're black, wealthy and famous. Odds are you will remain assigned 'woke' without pissing people off.

        1. I also dislike NDT, though mostly for his superciliousness than anything about being woke or a fake expert.

          1. Well, he's woke and fake now, isn't he?

            1. He's woke, in both the silly and legit sense, only occasionally, and then only in service of his superciliousness.

              He's not fake - he doesn't site incorrect science very often when he does this fact-checking nonsense. That doesn't prevent him from sucking.

        2. "Professor V: “How Fast is simply pedantic. NDT is an insufferable twatwaffle who hasn’t been in the news lately – So he inserts himself."

          The fact that he said something doesn't obligate you to pay any attention.

  6. I didn't even know that female reindeer *had* antlers, as they are a male-only, testosterone-driven feature on American deer (including Moose).

    I also doubt that Robert Lewis May knew that -- May grew up in NY State and attended Dartmouth in then-rural New Hampshire -- I have no doubt he was thinking of White Tail Deer.

    Reportedly, he based it on his own childhood, he being Rudolph, so it likely was mean girls bullying him (and Rudolph). Besides, Rudolph doesn't have horns, just the other reindeer do.

    BTW: May was a Jew. He and Berlin and others -- so much for this being a Christian holiday...

    1. "BTW: May was a Jew. He and Berlin and others — so much for this being a Christian holiday…"

      Jesus was a Jew. Who is this holiday about, again?

  7. What gender of reindeer have glow-in-the-dark red noses? Perhaps Tyson can enlighten us with his knowledge of zoology.

  8. But the sub-species of flying reindeer keep their antlers all year long, male or female.

    Show me a male flying reindeer who has shed his antlers, or shut up, Mr. Tyson.

    1. That's DOCTOR Tyson to you, Bucko!

    2. Unless reindeer fly in space they're outside his area of expertise.

    3. "Show me a male flying reindeer who has shed his antlers, or shut up, Mr. Tyson."

      Any reindeer will fly if you apply enough thrust.

  9. The woke pope of science-ism has some complaints about your kid's stories.

    Anyone still think the woke left isn’t totalitarians?

    1. The best way to deal with totalitarians is mockery.

      1. I was thinking that arming the 'proles' with facts, skills, and liberty, along with a robust Bill of Rights in the States would be the best way. Mockery is excellent, but an in-group that functions like theirs will ignore all views from out-groups. Very rarely is one deprogrammed.

        1. And guns. Don't forget the guns.

          1. Not as helpful if the totalitarians are also armed. It took more than half a decade to defeat the totalitarian Germans the last time it was necessary, and it took almost half a decade and all the atomic weapons we could make to defeat the imperialist Japanese. It took several decades to defeat the Soviet totalitarians with mockery, but the body count was far lower once we settled on that approach.

    2. "

      The woke pope of science-ism has some complaints about your kid’s stories.
      Anyone still think the woke left isn’t totalitarians?"

      The unwoke king of idiots has some complaints about science.
      if anyone cares...

  10. Merry Christmas, everyone! Here's some light transphobic humor for you! Har har har!

  11. From memory of a long-ago q&a column in the Chicago Sun Times, Santa's reindeer are immortal (or at least extraordinarily long-lived, centuries at least) and can magically fly fast enough to visit hundreds of millions (by a conservative estimate) of households in the span of hours. By comparison, postulating that there might be male reindeer that kept antlers longer than usual is far more likely, and possible!
    If one adds Rudolph story, an incredibly bright bioluminescent nose, and reindeer capable of bullying = sentience and presumably intelligence equivalent to a human etc., these are even more not ordinary reindeer.

    1. " By comparison, postulating that there might be male reindeer that kept antlers longer than usual is far more likely, and possible!"

      At the speed a flying reindeer would have to travel to visit every household with child in it celebrating Christmas within on planetary rotation, that reindeer is going to need a heat shield to deal with the heat of the friction created by moving through the atmosphere at that speed, even with a highly-optimized schedule. It's more likely that the females would lose their antlers due to having them burn off than it is that a new species of antler-retaining male reindeer is yet undiscovered by modern science.

  12. PhD Philologist Jackson Crawford specializing in Old Norse has ~300 YT video lectures including many on formal grammar of Scandinavian languages.

    God Jul

  13. Amusingly, we watched the Christmas Chronicles 2 last night. (Great movie, by the way!)

    Minor but relevant spoiler: Santa keeps referring to the reindeer as "the girls". So somebody in the studio had studied their reindeer biology.

  14. "Perhaps the female of the species is more deadly than the male."
    Did you ever really doubt this?

  15. "I'd listen more to whether Santa knows Zoology if the physicists knew more about reindeer flight."

    The physics of reindeer flight are not unknown. If lift exceeds the force of gravity upon the reindeer, the reindeer will fly. The challenge to reindeer flight does not come from physicists or physics. Put a big enough rocket motor under the reindeer, and you can make it soar into the stratosphere. Put a reindeer in the cargo hold of a C-130 and you can fly it anywhere you want it.

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