There is no doubt that we, humans, are creative, especially when it comes to our coming up with new and innovative words and phrases. And while some of them sound okay, there are many that just plain sound horrible and wrong at so many levels. Sadly, I hear these phrases from both close friends and acquaintances/strangers on a daily basis and at times I get so stumped, so speechless, that I don’t even know how to even react to them. It shocks me that people seem to take these sayings so lightly, as if they’re not a problem at all, when the fact of the matter is that they are problematic. They are very, very problematic, because they are racist, homophobic, and demeaning people with intellectual disabilities. I guess the problem is that these sayings and phrases have become so common, so normalized, and so ingrained in our society as customary that some of us have no problem using them — guilt-free.
So, anyway, I decided to make a list of these sayings (I’ve only included six so far, but if you know of any more, please let me know in the comment section below, so that I may add them), and explain why exactly they are so problematic and why we seriously need to make an effort to stop using them, even though there will be some who will most likely disagree with me. And that’s okay. I don’t expect any of my readers to agree with every single I write or share on my blog anyway. However, all I do ask and perhaps even expect is that my readers think about some of these issues, because it’s only through thinking/introspecting that we will be able to understand things from a more nuanced. dispassionate and equitable point of view, and thus be able to make changes not only within ourselves but for the greater good as well.
So, here goes:
- “That’s so gay”
I hear this phrase a lot. Like, a LOT. And it’s not cool. What does it even mean anyway? To me, it sounds quite derogatory because I’ve noticed people only use this phrase when they are referring to something they don’t like — in other words, it’s usually used to refer to something negative. I know some will argue and tell me that “gay” also means to be happy or jovial. But, c’mon, both you and I know that when someone says (and that too with a disgusted look on their face), “OMG, that’s, like, SO, gay!” they are clearly not referring to the “happy/jovial” interpretation of the word. So, does that then imply that being gay or “gayness” is a bad thing? Sounds extremely homophobic to me. And homophobia is something I cannot tolerate. Not one single bit. So, please, for the love of science, cute babies and sushi DO NOT use this phrase, or at least try to make an effort to stop using it. If you don’t like something or if something is bothering you, rather than using obtuse, clearly homophobic phrases like “That’s so gay,” use “That’s not cool,” or “That’s so annoying/frustrating,” etc.
I just really, really hope I don’t see or hear this saying again; it really makes me cringe. Ugh.
- The careless use of the word “rape”
How do I even begin to describe the sheer inappropriateness of using this disgusting word, usually in reference to something good and positive — more specifically, in sports and competitions, where if a person defeats another, they are quick to say, “I RAPED you, dude!” or let’s use a more recent example: this past World Cup soccer games that took place in June/July, where Brazil lost to Germany in the semi-finals, everyone took to social media, especially Twitter, with the derogatory metaphor, “Germany raped Brazil!”(I even wrote an article on this issue a few months ago, which was published on the Express Tribune Blogs here.) I strongly suggest you read that article as it pretty much goes into detail as to why I am very against using the word “rape” so casually and carelessly in a conversation, so I won’t bother repeating myself here.
- “I’m not racist, but…”
But…you are! Deny it all you want, but you are racist for even suggesting that you aren’t racist, and then following it with something that is clearly racist. That’s like saying, “I don’t eat meat, I’m a vegetarian, but I love bacon.” See how obtuse that sounds? Yeah. So, no. Either you stop starting a sentence with “I’m not racist, but..” and clearly admit that you are in fact racist and then explain why you have such a phobia for so and so race, or just keep your mouth shut and save us all the headache of having to listen to your bigoted bullshit. After all, as the saying goes, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
- “I’m not gay, but…”
Okay, seriously, what is wrong with straight people admitting to finding someone from the same sex physically (and perhaps even sexually) attractive? Why do some people often feel the need to admit — no, clarify — that they are “not gay” before saying anything that blatantly suggests otherwise? I mean, I personally find Angelina Jolie drop-dead gorgeous, and as someone who identifies herself as a straight woman, I’ll never start a sentence with, “I’m not gay, but I find Angelina Jolie so freaking hot!” See how obtuse and ridiculous that sounds? Why should there even be a need to state that one isn’t gay, before complimenting someone (of the same sex) that they clearly fancy or find very attractive. By using such crude phrases, we are simply stating — emphasizing even — that being homosexual is a bad thing; a negative thing. And people who constantly start sentences with such pathetic, meaningless phrases are openly purporting homophobic sentiments.
Well, I’ve got news for you, my dears: Homosexuality is not a bad thing and it should never, ever, be seen as such. We really, really need to stop starting sentences with, “I’m not gay, but…” and just simply state that we find so and so attractive. Trust me, no one gives a rat’s behind about whether you are straight, homosexual or bi. And those that do, well, that’s their problem and what they think about our sexual preferences should be the least of our concerns. Homophobia and bigotry of any kind is ugly and despicable, even if it’s unintentional.
- “That’s so retarded/mental”
I ashamedly admit that, I, too, have been guilty of using the word “retarded” in reference to something or someone, and I’ve now come to realize just how inappropriate this word is and why we should all, including myself, make an effort to really stop using it. I’ve come to understand that the word “retarded” sounds demeaning because it’s almost like we are insulting people who have intellectual disabilities. Why else would we even use that word in the first place? I realize we don’t intend to dehumanize intellectually disabled people by using such terms, but when you think about it — like, really, really think about it — you, too, will realize that it’s not a cool word to use. Not. At. All.
The word “mental” is another word that we should just stop using altogether, because it’s even more specific to people with intellectual disabilities. As someone who has an older brother with an intellectual disability (he is mildly autistic), I’ve become highly sensitive to using words like, “mental,” “mental case,” “mentally retarded,” etc. in a negative light. People with intellectual disabilities are not bad, evil or anything of the sort that we lay “normal” humans tend to assume. I don’t even understand why there even is a negative stigma attached to these words, when the fact of the matter is that not all or even most intellectually disabled people are “violent,” “psychotic,” or “dangerous.” Assumptions are hideous. And so is ignorance. Like us, they, too, are smart, brilliant, and beautiful with very unique characteristics and capabilities, and we should respect and appreciate them, rather than belittling and insulting them, obliviously, through highly insensitive, insolent words. Ignorance is not bliss and we should make an effort to think, long and hard, before we speak and end up saying something that, albeit has become the norm, will make us look boorish.
- Using the word “nigga” in casual conversation
No. No. No. No. NO. I can’t stress the word “no” enough when it comes to the use of this incredibly racist word. Many a time I’ve seen people, especially on social media websites like Twitter, use this word in casual conversation, writing something like, “Niggga, please!, ” or “‘I’mma bad ass nigga like that…,” or some other highly insolent comment where one doesn’t know whether to shake their head in pity, or cry at the sheer obtuseness of it all. Oh, and to add, these are people who aren’t even black! For some thick-headed reason, these people think that using the word “nigga” makes them look and sound “cool,” because they happen to listen to rap music and idolize annoying little runts like Eminem (who, by the way is a prime example of the epitome of stupidity, because he uses the “N” word a LOT in his songs, not realizing how wrong and derogatory it is). So, my message to you Eminem wanna-be’s: Grow up and please for the love of biryani, THINK before you use such words. Just because a small percentage of people are using the term, and somehow popularizing it, doesn’t mean that it’s right and okay to use it too. Seriously think about it.
Okay, so that’s it for now. Many thanks for reading, dearest readers! Please feel free to suggest more inappropriate words and phrases that we should eliminate from our daily vocabulary. It will be very helpful!