And as it follows the same theme as the last couple of posts on here:
I recommend a read. (Link at the bottom)
The words feminist and vegetarian aren’t mentioned, but it is about LGBTQs.
More to the point, it talks about how language does offend, insult and distress people, whether it is intended or not.
I could say, see, I told you so, but I won’t.
I can’t speak for LGBTQs or put myself in their shoes, but Dr Kevin Nadal, Associate Professor of Psychology does it eloquently enough, based on a research study over some years into ‘microaggression’. In cloudyroughseas words, I would call that insulting or offensive language that is derogatory to a certain group of people.
It’s written in readable English rather than academic speech and apart from the vile design of the blog and the ghastly header, I found it a very easy, yet thoughtul read.
The main point to take out of all this, is that there is not one set of rules or approved language for one minority group, it’s really about thinking more. It’s no good trying to put together a checklist, eg roughseas says don’t say x, y and z and remembering those. Just think whether the words you are using are insulting, or could be construed as insulting by someone else.
Nadal used the phrase ‘It’s so gay’ as his first example. To my understanding, describing something like that is an inferred insult, because the assumption is, being gay is not good or desirable.
An easy feminist example would be calling someone a stupid cunt. There is no way that is a compliment. I’m speaking specifically about English usage here as Spanish usage has too many variations on that one, some of which are actually nice.
Another different minority group is people who have learning or physical disabilities. These days would you really call people a spastic if you wanted to insult them? Or refer to someone as a Mongol (Down Syndrome)?
How many British people remember the old ice cream joke? The one where you ask someone an easy question but they keep getting it wrong because they have learning/physical disabilities. Finally they get the answer right, and you reward them with an ice cream and they promptly miss their mouth and slap it on their forehead. I’ll confess here and now I used to laugh at it. I wouldn’t laugh now, nor would I retell it. Not that I am any good at telling jokes. The same goes for rape jokes. Rape is not funny.
Don’t get trapped by the reclamation of language brigade either. This is normally where minority groups take back words that have been absorbed into mainstream language as derogatory terms. I don’t buy into this on the grounds it is too academic, too élitist, and is only understood by a tiny sector of the population. Remember too, within any given group of people, there are always going to be differences of opinion. I don’t like ‘Guys’ as a supposedly gender neutral term. I don’t think it is at all. That’s a bit like saying in documents, ‘wherever the word he is used it is intended to refer to both sexes’. Well, ‘he’ doesn’t. And what it does do, is continue to suggest that women are also-rans who can be encompassed by a male pronoun, or noun. Some feminists (usually American) accept the use of ‘Guys’. Lots of women routinely use it, in the case of British women, often to show how cool they are because they can use American language. They probably say Awesome and go to Disneyland on holiday too.
Finally, if you do click on the link to the blog, check out some of the comments. There are a few more examples of words that upset people, and surprisingly, a lot of people who say they have changed how they speak and write, once they realised that many words they used were not just thoughtless but caused distress to other people.
And at this point, thanks to Andrew and Pink, who have said in previous comments, that they have taken on board some of what I have written about language.
Is this a better Freshly Pressed post than anything any of us write? No. But it is at least a decent sensible one.
That’s So Gay blog post.