JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Alaska Air gets woke on pronouns, but will they boot you if you reject them?

Apr 5, 2022, 6:00 PM | Updated: Apr 6, 2022, 1:20 pm
(Alaska Airlines)...
(Alaska Airlines)
(Alaska Airlines)

Move over, Disney! As a pilot shortage and contract negotiations lead to massive delays and flight cancelations, Alaska Airlines is leaning into wokeness. They’re looking to earn some social currency. But if passengers reject the airline’s virtue signaling, will they be booted from the flight?

Alaska Airlines publicly described its new gender-neutral uniforms and grooming guidelines following an internal announcement. They allow nail polish for biological males, more piercings and tattoos, plus different hair styles. But it’s the new accessory that is rubbing some staff members the wrong way.

Front line employees, such as flight attendants and gate agents, can now wear a button highlighting their preferred personal pronouns. They only include “he/him,” “she/her,” and “they/them” so they’re not nearly as woke as they can be. After all, there are about 100 other personal pronouns.

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Celebrating inclusion by pretending you can be multiple genders

Alaska Airlines uses all the appropriate, corporate-approved buzzwords that test well with focus groups in a lengthy post announcing the changes. And it tells the curated stories of diverse employees with various gender identities that can be exploited for corporate gain.

“I answer to all pronouns,” says Isaac, a lead customer service agent in Washington D.C. “I accept he/him/his, she/her/hers, and they/them/theirs. I feel that there has been greater awareness and sensitivity to personal pronouns, and I love that. But I’m also cognizant that changes take time and I want our society to feel comfortable with how they view and communicate with me.”

Does it make sense to identify with all gendered and nongendered pronouns? About as much as wearing any pronoun buttons if you don’t care which ones people use.

Some etiquette

Do I personally care what pronouns anyone uses? Not especially.

I choose to use the personal pronouns of someone who is actually transgender. I won’t go out of my way to intentionally misgender someone. While I won’t pretend biology isn’t real and important, I also won’t be intentionally rude or cruel. And I’ll use someone’s name or avoid pronouns altogether if there is some insistence that the person be identified as “they” or ask for pronouns that aren’t actual words (ze or ey or hu).

These situations almost never occur because, despite the attention the media or airlines give it, this issue applies to about 1% of the total population. There are people who legitimately present as a gender opposite to their biology and do so based on an innate feeling.

But there are also narcissistic gender activists who do it to have Twitter and Instagram material to portray themselves as allies. I mind the performative nature of gender activists who pretend to have multiple genders (or none at all) to either make a political point or feign victimhood when someone doesn’t abide by his/her/their/hu/fae/ze/ey’s demands.

In fact, what happens if a customer won’t abide by the new rules for gender expression?

Will zu be booted from the plane?

One Alaska Airline employees featured in the press release mentions that customers could be uncomfortable. Jason (they/she/he) is a huge supporter of the new uniform changes. He also says he looks forward Alaska Airlines’ “support if faced with adversity among peers or guests who may find it difficult to see them wearing nail polish.”

But what does that support entail?

If a customer doesn’t use the pronoun “they” when acknowledging a biologically male or female flight attendant, could that result in removal from a plane or would it need to escalate to a disruption? The vast majority of passengers will comply or just not really even care. But it doesn’t seem far-fetched to envision a scenario where a rude, intentional sleight could cause hurt feelings. What happens then?

After prodding, an Alaska Airlines spokesperson said they “would not remove a guest for using incorrect pronouns.”

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How utterly inauthentic

Alaska Airlines is desperately trying to earn social currency for its approach to gender identity. But this comes off as so wholly inauthentic.

They created gender-neutral uniforms and you can wear a pronoun button that, for most people, will match exactly what pronouns everyone already uses for them. Does any of this truly allow employees to be their “most authentic selves” at work?

Isn’t a transgender male wearing a male uniform more in line with his identity than nudging him into a gender-neutral outfit? And are these uniforms truly “gender-neutral” exactly? One of them is a button-up shirt with a tie. Women wearing ties doesn’t make them gender-neutral uniforms. It’s merely a woman wearing a tie. So what?

“This is what it means to care – to ensure everyone can bring their best and most authentic selves to work and to be an inclusive and welcoming environment for employees and guests alike. That’s the journey we’re on, and the future of Alaska Airlines,” according to the blog.

Well, they don’t really care, do they? This is what it means to virtue signal, which is why this is for frontline employees: the staff that customers see.

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Rantz: Alaska Air gets woke on pronouns, but will they boot you if you reject them?