(Pic Credit: Twitter.com)
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
Like Santa and the Easter Bunny, I’ve learned that this quote is as untrue as a visit from the tooth fairy (my heart still hurts). Words are powerful. Insert the wise words of don Miguel Ruiz: You should always be impeccable with your word (Agreement#1).
This is a practice I struggle with because, you know, people piss me off sometimes and I feel the need to vent. And when I vent, I have to tell all three of my sisters, my cousin/bestie, my mommy, my co-worker and so on. Next, there is some possible name-calling and it’s not right, but I have this fake sense of peace afterwards until I tell the story again some weeks later.
Before using words against myself or others that are not uplifting, empowering, or encouraging, I ask myself these two questions: 1) Is it true or just a reaction to an emotion that I allowed someone to provoke? 2) Is it necessary to repeat out loud or harbor within myself?
Not to oversimplify because, sometimes, people need to be “dealt with” or handled by a gladiator (Bring back “Scandal!”). You need to be firm or give honest criticism. I’ve learned to be indifferent to some people and let go of some things quicker.
Here are 10 random words/phrases (in no particular order) I have heard over the years–some I’ve learned not to use myself, some I would never use, but most are words/phrases that drive me up the wall:
1) “He/She is crazy, therefore, bipolar.”
When Solange went mortal combat on her brother-in-law Jay-Z in an elevator ride from hell, there were many different theories on who “started” it. Was she justified because he disrespected Beyonce? Did Jay-Z say something to provoke her? Did her allege bipolar disorder cause her to act out in a “crazy” way that has happened before? Crazy is usually used in a negative way to describe something irrational, illogical or ridiculous. These words are more fitting to describe something bizarre (hence, something, not someone) than referring to someone as bipolar because you think they are behaving in a “crazy” way.
Bipolar disorder is a real illness. In fact, even when someone is bipolar, not every action/emotion is caused by their disorder. Click here for a “Everyday Health” article dispelling misconceptions about bipolar disorder.
2) “She’s a THOT” That. Hoe. Over. There. Thotties.
A few weeks ago, I overheard this in a grocery store between two young girls (probably high school age):
“I’m not a hoe, I’m a THOT.”
This word/term/phrase is interchangeable with any other derogatory term used to control/judge the sexuality and demean girls and women ONLY. Unfortunately, I’ve heard women and girls use it more than men. Complex.com writer David Drake wrote about the “origin” of the word. There is also a video component with the article worth watching as well–especially towards the end when a passionate male describes his distaste of street harassment. Read/watch it here.
After recent shooting in California, an empowering twitter conversation happened using the #YesAllWomen. Women/men shared stories of being harassed, abused, and in fear of the “entitlement” of men.
Do we really need another word, term, phrase for when we feel the need to quickly dismiss or use aggression against girls and women–be it used by a man or woman?
No, we don’t.
3) “That’s gay.”
Ugh. Every time I heard this in high school, I asked the person using the phrase, “Why?” This phrase is used when boys find something to be stupid, “not right,” negative, …wrong.
Let’s be mature and not use a sexual orientation to describe our distaste for something.
4) “Retard.” Just don’t.
5) “Why can’t I use the N-Word, too?”
Don Imus. Paula Deen. Justin Bieber.
When Don Sterling didn’t use it, I thanked Baby Jesus because I’m sure the illogical, ignorant question would have ensued “If black people (especially rappers in their ‘hip hop’ songs) can use it, why can’t white people?”
Funny, smart Franchesca Ramsey breaks it down very well.
6) “She/He has the ‘Monster’”
I’ve heard people use this phrase too many times to dehumanize people who they think they know have HIV/AIDS.
First, HIV and AIDS are not same. HIV can be contracted from birth, sexually or during dirty needle drug use. AIDS is the virus that HIV “turns into” when the person’s who have HIV health worsens.
Calling these conditions the ‘monster.’ Is just…
It is a sick way to separate infected people, shame them, and forget that ANYONE can be infected. I’ve seen so many stories in which two people decide to have sex unprotected and the person who infected the other is dehumanized, jailed, and condemned by the public.
Don’t get me wrong. Any person who knowingly infects someone with a disease is DEAD WRONG.
But, let’s be empowered. Your health, even your sexual health, is YOUR responsibility. Wrap it up and get tested regularly–no matter your age or relationship status.
7) “Are you pregnant?”/”You look smaller in person.”/Any other backhanded comment referring to one’s weight.
This one is mostly for women, especially women like me whose weight goes up and down.
One morning at Dunkin’ Donuts, the cashier says to me: “Girl, I didn’t know you [was] pregnant.” No, I did not know her.
Another day, a guy asked me when I was having my baby. No, I did not know him either.
I always had a “pop belly” since my diaper days. I do not need you to rudely remind me that I have/had a round stomach–I’m getting in shape :). But, still this has to be one of the most rude, annoying comments I have heard from a stranger. You would think they were going to throw me a baby shower.
8) “Is that your real ____?”
…eyes, hair, etc.
I used to wear these medicated hazel contacts (I know), and people could not help but ask if they were my real eyes. Well, yes, I can’t take them out.
I’ve heard the same thing with hair as well, particularly to and from black women.
Ish is rude. And does it really matter? Would knowing change the world for the better or just your self-esteem?
9) You look [[insert whatever nationality/race/ethnicity besides the real one here]].
You think I’m gorge, pretty, attractive? Good for you. Telling me I look mixed or exotic doesn’t make me feel good about myself. I like being me. I like being just, regular ol’ black. You should, too.
10) Cute. (to describe a person over the age of 16)
Kids are cute with their little bow ties and ribbons. Baby animals are cute, too. Grown women and men are not cute.
What are some random words/phrases you loathe?