A while ago, I read somewhere a term used for a woman who wears her hair in a bun on top of her head. I can’t remember the term precisely, because at the time, I thought it didn’t bother me. Lately, however, every time I create this hairstyle myself, a question keeps recurring: “Even innocently intended, when certain terms are used to talk about someone, or address a group, do we keep discrimination alive?”
Language is a part of the way we express ourselves, and in one-on-one conversations we look at body language to interpret how a word, sentence, conversation is intended. Although, I still believe we should embrace social media, the written language is often more difficult to interpret. Even with the use of Smilies, it can be less clear if someone is teasing you or hurting you on purpose.
Granted, there are terms to clarify our spoken communication. Talking or writing about Afro-Americans, homosexuals, Italians, etc. immediately we all know which group of neighbors we mean. I hope we all understand, end December 2018, you don’t address people as ‘those blacks’ or ‘spaghetti-eaters’ and homosexuality is not a disease!
Besides humorous, I also like to believe I am a compassionate and kind woman. Does the way I style my hair automatically put me in some kind of box ? Gender, heritage, financial status and whatever other boxes we came up with, I hope the SUM of all those boxes is still what defines a person.
Are words just words?
We developed our ability to speak, we created words, terms, definitions, boxes… Should we reconsider some of the words we use?
The line between bullying and teasing is so thin. The increase of depression (1 of every 4 persons) and physical issues (anorexia, obesity, urinating in bed, migraine, etc.) are possibly also related to our choice of words?
As harmless as it might seem, could our custom of innocent teasing, and inherited spoken language, be a part of keeping discrimination alive?
Interesting thought. I do tend to forget whatever new “politically correct” term they come up with for some social groups and then it always makes me icky for making a mistake and hurting someone’s feelings.
Our brains create labels to process alllllll the information we perceive (and that is a lot), creating stereotypes as we go. But if you realise not every person who looks the same or comes from the same country IS the same, I think you’re on the right track.
Stereotyping only leads to discrimination if you let those thoughts justify your negative actions towards a person or group of persons, I think. But the topic you pose here is really food for thought!
Thank you for your thoughtful comment, dear Samantha. Anything the mind can do, it can undo. Creating less hurtful stereotypes seems to me a good choice 😉