Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Reality is Not an Accident

Is it okay to use the word 'mankind' instead of 'humankind'?
Is it okay to say 'that movie was gay' instead of 'that movie was bad'?

Of course it's okay; there's no law against it. You're just a f*ck*ng *d**t.

Boldly put. Didn't mean to alienate. I've learned to approach these topics with tact. Aggression creates counterstrikes and guilt can be avoided. I often turn the debate into an intellectual exercise that I call: it's no accident.

You can say 'gay' in a hostile context all you want. So long as you admit that our culture does not look upon homosexuality favourably and that's the reason it's used as a derogative remark. A word, our reality, is no accident. And your words, however small and temporary are tiny bricks in the future. You insignificant words contribute to the milieu.

Mankind was a word used when male philosophers were literally referring to men exclusively. It's from a time when they believed that only men had the capacity to make rational insights and choices. We can pretend that it is identical to the word 'humankind' but we cannot erase its roots.

Changing words does not change minds. Scolding someone for saying 'gay' might achieve results if they love or fear you. It's much more important to understand that your words build that world that you want so think about what you say.

Every time I start a blog I write about language quite early. Reality is not an accident is my new fun way of saying language is not neutral. Different words, same old-man vision.

1 comment:

Plorry Stabworth said...

I was taking the subway today, and a guy was walking with a girl, who saw an advertisement for a homosexual men's dating service, and she said to her friend, "You should call that number." He looked at the sign, and quickly said, "That's gay." Then he took a second, realized what it was, and said, "Oh, that's gay," almost with a new level of respect.