"So what do you think about people who write 'Innen' at the end of words?" I ask a German boy I know. "You know, like 'JournalistInnen' or something? What do you think?"
"I think it's fine. I don't do it myself, I'm too lazy. I mean, I do it if I send an email."
"Yeah, I do it, sometimes when I send an email, too."
"But I don't think it'll ever become, you know, accepted practice."
"No," I say. "I don't think so either."
We sit there in silence for a few seconds and then I say: "Don't you think those boys who get really upset about it must have really tiny penises?"
He looks at me blankly.
"Er, you think?" he says.
"You know," I say. "Like those Pirate boys who invented that filter that automatically changes it back. They must have really, really, really small dicks."
"You don't think they just feel resentful at giving up power?"
I sniff thoughtfully. "Nah," I say. "That would be the case if, like, you know, the government were forcing us all to write ‘Innen’. Like, if it was in the Rechtschreibreform or something. But they're totally not. All it is, is, like, three people on Twitter. And it's never gonna catch on. So what is there to get upset about? Like, I read Alice Schwarzer's autobiography, right? Half the time she does it – and a few pages later she doesn't. Like, maybe she forgets or maybe it's just too awkward and clumsy. It is a bit awkward and clumsy. It's not a very practical solution. Why would you get upset about an awkward, clumsy impractical solution to a sexist problem? Coz the German language is sexist."
"Yeah, it's a sexist language."
"I mean, the only feasible explanation is that they have incredibly tiny penises. Isn't it?"
"Er, I mean, I'm not sure I'm following you."
"I'm not talking about people who find it a bit funny. I have to admit, I found it funny, too, when I found out. I thought 'MitbewohnerIn' in Zitty meant you wanted a girl and then someone explained it to me, and I thought it was funny. And when I found out about the transsexual gap –you know that gap they do, so you know that transsexual people might be meant as well?"
"Yeah," he says. "Or a star."
"Yeah," I say. I write the word “Journalist_Innen” down on a piece of paper to check I've done it right.
"Yeah," he says. "Or you could've put a star in where the underscore is."
"Okay, so the first time I heard about that, I just cracked up. I thought: 'That's so funny; it's like a little gap where their genitals should go.' I know, that's really transphobic of me, sorry. But I've totally got used to it now. You just get used to things, don't you? And we don't have to write it ourselves. Nobody is forcing anybody to write it themselves. And then those boys get so upset."
"So you think they must have small dicks?"
"I think they have tiny dicks," I say. "And they see the ‘I’ on the ‘Innen’ as a big strap-on dildo some lesbian is wearing. You know? And they feel all insecure because of their incredibly tiny penises, penises like slightly large clitorises. You know the kind of penises I mean. The kind that should actually be banned."
"You want to ban small penises?"
"No, no," I say. "Not at all. I want to ban tiny penises. Swollen-clit-dicks. They should be banned. Or at least, if not outright outlawed, then at least men should have the legal responsibility to inform you before a one-night stand. You know? They should be legally required to warn the girl. 'Let's go back to my place, but before we do, I feel I should warn you that I have an incredibly tiny penis, it is basically about the size of a large clitoris and you basically won't be able to tell if we're having sex or not.' And if he hasn't warned her, she can sue him. For Schmerzensgeld."
"I'm not sure you should talk like this, Jacinta. I'm not sure how helpful this is, these things you're saying."
"Still," I say, musingly. "I suppose you could just check by asking him what he thinks about gendered language. And if he gets all het up about it, you can take a rain-check."
"Yeah. I suppose it's quite useful, really."