Mom and I are enjoying our summer, but still want to keep the conversation going. How can we go to the beach, take long walks on the Buffalo waterfront, or have a G & T but still provide something to think about? Ask you, our faithful readers, to write for us of course!
For our last post, mom wrote about the power of language, and how phrases like “that’s so gay” can be harmful to individuals, even though the speaker may not intend any harm. “Words do matter,” she wrote.
This idea is not something new. English teachers—like mom and I—spend our careers teaching that very idea. LGBT activists have spent a great deal of time and effort raising awareness about the power of derogatory language (like GLSEN’s Think Before You Speak campaign). There is now even a new board game that seeks to reclaim the phrase “That’s So Gay” and create a “positive opportunity to educate LGBTQs and our allies” and “break down stereotypes while having some fun with our LGBTQ history.”
However, not everyone sees a problem. In a recent article in The Washington Post titled “Maybe it’s okay for kids to say ‘that’s so gay’” author and researcher Mark McCormack argues many young people are not speaking with homophobic intent when they use the phrase, and that the efforts of LGBT organizations are better directed to more pressing issues, like combating homophobia in schools, pursuing equality, and confronting heterosexual privilege.
What do you think? Do words matter? Are some words and phrases so laden with power that they should be avoided? Or does an individual speaker’s intent mitigate that power? We are opening our heretofore private conversation to you, and ask you to respond with your thoughts. Don’t be shy–tell us what you think!
Enjoy your August!