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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sticks and Stones...And Yes Words Can Hurt.

A few weeks ago a blogger that I have come to know over that past year or so http://www.icouldbefake.com/ left me a comment on a post asking me if I would tackle a certain topic. Me, not being one to back away from any topic said "Sure".  One of my goals for my blog this year was to write about more serious subjects and that would let the C's learn more about me as they got older and started reading my blog.  They would know how I felt about certain things and in turn they could start to understand why T and I try and teach them things we teach them and why we want them to grow up in the ways we do.

This was Penny's comment to me: "Controversial posts huh? How do you feel about the words "gay" and "retarded" being used as slang to describe something unpleasant or stupid? I would love your thoughts on that."

OK. So lets take this one word at a time.  Lets start with the word "Gay".  Gay is a word that usually refers to a person that is homosexual.  The words original meaning was "To be carefree and happy".  Over the years the word has become to be nothing more than a slang term used to refer to someone or something in an ugly manner.  I have to admit that back in my younger years I used this word. I used it in the context of saying things like "Man, that is so gay" or "That is some gay stuff your doing" and probably used it like this as well "Come on man, don't act so gay".  Now when I used to say those phrases, I wasn't thinking about others feelings first off, and I wasn't thinking about trying to actually imply that the person or thing I was talking about was a homosexual matter.  It was a word that I used in slang just because. No real reason.  As I got older and became more aware of peoples feelings and the ways that words hurt others, I began to see that it made no sense for me to say certain things.  It also dawned on me how stupid I must look for saying the word "Gay" and even using it as a slang term, just makes me look foolish. 

I have a guy that I have come to know from my blog and twitter and he is gay. Yes I'm sure he is happy and cheerful, but I mean he is homosexual. He is a very proud person and has no issues with who he is. I wanted to get some comments from him about this. I asked him if hearing people use the word in slang form offended him, or if he is just that much of a bigger person and not let it bother him.   He took a few  minutes to tell me how he felt.

Justin from Its Just Justin had this to say. - I'm not sure it's being "bigger than words" to not let gay or faggot bother me. It really depends on the context of the situation. Example, one of my best friends grew up in the time when "That's so gay" was just what people said. We were watching University of Missouri play our rival Kansas when a ref made a horrible mistake and called a foul against one of our players. My friend exclaimed one or the other of the above words at the television.  Immediately he shrank down into the couch, embarrassed and ashamed of what he yelled out. I on the other hand laughed at the situation. He didn't mean gay was stupid or "burn the ref at the stake". It was a moment of exasperation and it's what happened. I do not condone the casual use of these words but I am able to forgive them depending on the situation.

However, two weeks ago I was visiting said friend and his fiancée. She and I were about 25 feet away from the CVS when a group of guy yelled "Fucking faggot!" It was in that moment that I was three things. Scared that I might get beat up, surprised that this was happening and frustrated at people's ignorance. Someone calling me gay is rude but it doesn't scare me. I'm liberal and can take offense at people calling me such. It isn't really the word but the context.

So there you have it from a guy that has experienced it in all.  He has heard the word "Gay" and not thought anything of it, he has heard the word "Gay" and thought it only to be a rude gesture coming from an ignorant person and then he has heard worse and been scared for his safety due to things that have happened in his life to friends and loved ones also being hurt.

Next.  The word "Retard".  This is another word that I can not stand.  This word makes me sick. Perhaps more now that I have children and I know of parents that have children that may actually be in some way shape or form handicapped by something.  I for the life of me can not remember ever using this word. Not as a kid, not as a teen, not as a young adult and not now.  I know plenty of people that use it.  And the same people that use it would be the first ones to damn all others to hell if they had a family member or child that was in some way "retarded".  I mean that word doesn't even sound right. It just smells of disgust.  No matter what or how you use it, its sounds so disrespectful.

There is a woman that I have learned so much from on a certain topic of Autism and I know that she and I and others have had this conversation before about the word "retard" being used even in the slang form.  She also took some time to tell me her thoughts on this topic.

Amy from Not A Real Princess wrote this: Fact:According to the dictionary Retard (or Retarded) has several meanings:
1. Slow something down: to slow or delay the progress of something ( which is where the term "mentally retarded" started because the child/person was slowed or delayed cognitively).
2. offensive term: an offensive term that deliberately insults somebody with a learning disability or somebody regarded as unintelligent.
No matter how you spin it,  when you use the term to imply someone or something they did is stupid, the word is offensive. You can't please everyone, and society has become hypersensitive about political correctness. But we evolve as humans.We learn and grow and must also teach our children acceptance and empathy.  Do people with cognitive or intellectual disabilities go around calling each other retarded? Or do you ever hear them address one another by saying "What's up my retard?" ....Yeah I didn't think so. So stop using it.


See, that is what I like about Amy. She pulls no punches. She is a strong advocate for the use of the word "retard" or "retarded" to not be used anymore.  I agree with what she had to say to me about how we use other slang words.  Do some people go around using the "N" word? Sure, is that right? Not in my opinion, but its still done. So since that is wrong and people have such strong issues with that word, why cant people have issues and find it wrong to use the words "gay" and "retard"?  It may seem funny to some to be in your group of friends and say "That's so gay" or "Don't be a retard" but you know what?  You never know who is listening and who is around and those people may get their feelings hurt.  The other issue is when people say hurtful things to other and about others, you then are entering the area of being a bully, in my opinion.

So to clear it all up.  I hate both of these words. I have grown over the years to become more sensitive to others and their feelings. I think other could use that same lesson.

Thanks to Penny for presenting a great question. Thanks to Justin and Amy for their time and sending me their thoughts.  All three of these people are great people to know. Check out their blogs and go follow them on twitter. Penny @ICouldBeFake, Justin @Justex07 and Amy @lla_Princess















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5 comments:

Brad Jenkins March 21, 2012 at 10:53 AM   Reply to

I actually heard someone use the word retard in the proper way recently, but it still sounded strange. When talking about a co-worker, they said "she does so many things that are going to retard her advancement". I think it's just one of those words that has such a negative conotation you will almost never be able to use it without people thinking of the other definitions.

We have so many words available to us it just doesn't make sense to try and fit the questionable ones into a conversation. Had my co-worker just said "slow", "delay", or "hamper", the message would have been the same - if not better.

Penny March 21, 2012 at 11:02 AM   Reply to

You did such an awesome job on this post! I'm pretty impressed.

I feel the same as you do. The issue of using the word "gay" is very close to me. My sister-in-law is gay, I have so many friends who are either gay or bi and my heart aches for them when I hear people using the word "gay" like it's something bad. I think my SIL is the same as Justin about it, but for me I just can never let it go that easily. I even unfriended someone on FB who kept using the word "gay" like that, and I explained why it's offensive and he shouldn't use it and his only defense was "what do you care? you're not gay" WELL SO EFFIN WHAT!? Still offensive. Jerk.

I used both words growing up and into my teens. I didn't know any better, I think back then a lot of people didn't know any better. But you learn, and there's no reason we can't raise our kids to know that these words used this way are not okay. You know?

PS. Thanks for the link love! lol

Erin March 21, 2012 at 12:27 PM   Reply to

I couldn't agree more. The word Retard really rubs me the wrong way. My friend Ellen at LoveThatMax recently did a really great post and video that I think that you would like. http://www.lovethatmax.com/2012/03/would-you-call-my-child-retard.html

LLA_Princess March 21, 2012 at 2:01 PM   Reply to

Oh did i ever mention that my mother's middle name is Gay? Obviously it was meant to be "happy" back then.....sigh oh how times have changed.

Thank you so much for the privilege to be a part of this post. Like I said before, Education is empowerment. WWW.R-word.org

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