When in the course of watching a streaming episode of “Freaks and Geeks” on Netflix, I heard Jean Weir, the mother, urge her child to “drink your orange juice.” The words rankled through generations of foul and miserable memories. The laws of nature and of nature’s God compel me to declare the causes to separate from the word “your.”
Despite the protestations of mothers across the English-speaking world, the word “your” has been widely used for generations to unfairly establish and maintain hegemony of one person over another.
The tyranny of the word “your” started in early childhood, not unlike the fictional Weirs. I am not, of course, referring to usages such as “your sainted mother,” “your filthy underwear,” or “that stuff in your belly button.” I have a singular, clearly delineated, undeniable relationship to those objects. Rather, this linguistic fascism typically begins in kindergarten or first grade with a reference to “your orange juice.”
As in, “are you going to drink your orange juice before you go to school?’
Wait a sec, mom. Since when are you assuming that the orange juice belongs to me or that I even want to drink orange juice in the morning? Doesn’t the orange juice, technically, belong to everyone in the family? So wouldn’t it be more correct to ask, “are you going to drink some orange juice before you go to school?”
However, this jeremiad does not even begin to address the equally salient issue of whether or not I would prefer to drink a V-8, hot tea, water, or an espresso. Use of the word “your” obliterates that discussion. Dear mother, are you trying to ensure proper hydration, ingestion of a balance of vitamins or minerals, or tighten up matriarchal control over me? Because, mom, the more you use the word combination “are you going to drink your orange juice before you go to school,” the more it seems like this is about you and not me.
Before kindergarten or first grade, I now understand, there was an assumption: you placed food and beverage in front of me in the morning and I consumed both because, well, that’s what one did. I was hungry and thirsty and you provided sustenance. Just like grandma did when you were a girl, right?
As I began to socialize with other children and, through my early education, began to learn about the world and different kinds of foods and beverages, the concept of choice entered my mind. As in, I might prefer Corn Flakes to Lucky Charms this morning, mom. Or, I think I would like half a grapefruit with the scrambled eggs and bacon you lovingly cooked for me this morning.
Or, I might just want a goddamned V-8 instead of the same fucking orange juice you place in front of my cakehole every morning like I’m some kind of eating, pissing, and shitting robot.
Therefore, dear mother, in the name of all that is good and holy about the American family breakfast, I solemnly publish and declare that I am absolved from all allegiance or obedience to the word “your,” and that all connections between this word and whatever I want to eat or drink for breakfast, especially in the comforts of my own home and in the company of my wife and my children. As a free and independent grown man, I have full power to offer my family orange juice without use of the second person possessive. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, I pledge to you that I will never exclaim “mom, you are not leaving this house without your Depends.”