Friday, June 27, 2014

Because Words CAN Hurt

"But I didn't mean any offense! You're being too sensitive. This world is getting too p.c."

Here's the way to know if a phrase needs to be eliminated from your repertoire: Is the phrase said to connotate anything less than desirable? I.E., is the metaphor/simile indicating that whatever I am doing/saying/wearing something that is laughable? Then it is degrading. End of story.

Telling you that a phrase you may use isn't something I am comfortable with or that I find it offensive doesn't make me "overly sensitive" or "too politically correct." It means that I am trying to consider the feelings of other people, whether or not that particular group is represented at the time of the phrase's use.

The #LikeAGirl campaign by Always hit on a topic I've been wanting to cover for a while. In fact, just a few weeks ago, a kindly father at the neighborhood pool jokingly told his daughter that she was "throwing like a girl." Now, had she not been playing with my own daughter at the time, I may not have intervened with my own comment. But she WAS beside my own daughter and I could not stand by and let this comment go;

"Like a girl? So, you mean she threw it strong and far, right? Because girls are amazing and powerful and nothing to be made fun of, right?"

I was actually trying to be kind and approachable when I said this, as I know most people feel that this is a joke that is still socially acceptable.

It's not.

It's no longer acceptable to degrade females. It's no longer acceptable to make remarks about any group of human beings in a way that implies that they are less than desirable. I think it should go without saying, but it is not acceptable to mock someone because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, mental capacities, physical limitations, social status or gender. IT'S NOT.

This means you cannot say things like "that's so gay" , "he's so retarded", or "trailer trash" without hurting someone. Not only because a person within earshot may be homosexual, mentally challenged, or raised in a trailer park, but also because it perpetuates the idea that those stereotypes are valid. Words have power. Words have WEIGHT.

"But it's ok! I AM gay-Jewish-overweight-female-poverty-born! I can mock myself!"

This makes me sigh, because I get it. I do it. We all do it. Life cannot be focused on being serious and politically correct. Life should be about embracing the fun and the light and the joy, and I GET IT. But do we have to knock each other or ourselves down in order to have the laughter?

I'm not being overly sensitive. I'm not making too much out of a "simple phrase, meant in jest." I'm not trying to police the world and make everyone think exactly as I do. I know for a FACT that I still make mistakes regarding some of the phrases I have grown up with. I can guarantee you that I have uttered less than complimentary phrases about groups of people, without even thinking about what it actually meant to them, or to me. I own my own biases and continue to work past them. All I ask is that we all consider our words before we speak them. All I ask is that each of us owns our own mistakes and tries to move forward.

How else can we create a society that gracious and kind, if we continue to knock each other down?

#LikeAGirl means "like a person who is capable and strong, who just happens to be female."

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