HAHAT : The Power of a Word
We, at LYLBTB, are delighted to be part of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (May 17th) and BookSmitten was delighted to front it 😀 So a BIG thanks to her for doing this – I am sure you will agree that her post is very thought provoking; in the words of Macklemore, in his wonderful song Same Love :
….. Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying…..
and on that note, over to BookSmitten.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.
A well known childhood rhyme, but it isn’t really true, is it? Names, and words, can have an enormous amount of power to hurt when used to belittle, shame, disrespect and with the intent to insult. In Australia, the five major sporting codes recently stepped up and signed an agreement to stamp out discrimination and the use of homophobic language within their sports. Several days after this, a young football player was heard flinging the slur “f***ing gay c***” at an opponent on the field during a televised game. In response to the incident, NRL chief executive Dave Smith stated, “There is no place for any form of discrimination in our game. Rugby League is a game for everyone and we will not tolerate slurs based on gender, race, sexuality or any other matter. The NRL is determined to stamp out discrimination in our game. This matter will be investigated fully and, if any player has vilified an opponent, appropriate action will be taken.” The governing body backed up their pledge and issued a two-match suspension to the player in question.
Of course, the fairness of the suspension was debated in the media. But it’s only when columnist Miranda Devine, in her article titled “NRL bosses are totally gay”, chose to take issue with the way the word ‘gay’ was used, that the power of words, and how they are used, really became a bone of contention. You see, she asserted that the player didn’t really mean it as a homophobic slur because the other player isn’t even gay – what more evidence was needed? (Although I’m not entirely sure how she would even know if he was or wasn’t). She went on to insist that “No one owns a word” and “It is just tyrannical to demand that people must use a word only in the form approved by homosexual activists.” But it’s where she declares, “Let’s get one thing straight. “Gay” no longer just means “homosexual”. The word has changed meaning over the last decade. Young people use “gay” to mean lame, or dumb or stupid, as in: “That’s so gay.”” that she really misses the point of how words can be used to make people feel ‘less than’.
Can it truly be surprising that a young, gay person is likely to equate being gay as being lame, or dumb, or stupid, or less than non-gay people when that is what they are constantly hearing? When they are subjected to ridicule and attack? When a large part of who they are is being used as a way to insult others? How can this not have a detrimental effect on the way they view themselves? What I found particularly sad is that as a woman, Ms Devine should have had enough experience of her gender being used as slurs and insults to understand at least a little what power words can have on a victimised group of society. Things like “you play like a girl”, “drama queen”, “the weaker sex” and the names for several female body parts are all familiar, common phrases/words used to be insulting to boys and men. They are so commonplace that we hardly even bat an eye at their use. But let’s not kid ourselves, the attitudes that have caused them to become so ingrained do still have an effect on the way women and girls view themselves. A lack of self-worth is often a battle a woman will fight her whole life to some degree or other. I really don’t want to see that happen to another group in society. The GLBTI community have enough to deal with that is directly aimed at them without adding this sideways chipping at self-worth as well. There are more than enough slurs and vitriol thrown at them for simply being who they are that society should be ashamed for.
Youth advocate John Caldwell penned a heartfelt and eloquent open letter to Miranda Devine in response to her article where he writes :
“Have you in anyway been associated with the vast number of homosexual young people who feel the only way out is to take their own lives because society deems them wrong for being gay? Please tell me, Miranda, what is suitable punishment for legitimising language that incites hate against a minority group?…When I walk down the street next time and someone sneers and mutters “gay” or “fag” – which I won’t have to wait long for – I shall think of you and how your opinion affects the lives of so many. Heaven help you should you ever have a child who turns out to be gay and you have to join them on the journey of pain and heartache they will suffer for something so out of their control.”
Words do have power. Let’s use them to build others up, instead of kicking them down.
Up for grabs is any e-book from those we have reviewed and deemed to be KAPOWorthy!! Check out the list HERE. All you need to do is comment, to be included in the draw. The winner will be chosen randomly via that tried and true method of “draw a name out of the hat” 😛 The contest ends on May 27th, and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter.
Thanks for stopping by, and for commenting! Good Luck with the GiVeAwAy – and be sure to follow the rest of the hop HERE.
And having opened with a mention of Macklemore, I thought it was right to end with him – just LOVE this song so much!