May 2019
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slurs are still very harmful when they are aimed at a situation/action/thing instead of a person


icon: "passionate (a red stylized gas mask: the Benjamin Gate symbol)"

What does it mean to use a slur?

a slur is a word with derogatory meaning which gets its negative connotation from the 'undesirability' of a group of people. It's a word used to mean 'bad' because it refers to a group of people who are labeled 'bad' by society. It doesn't matter if it is being used against a person or not; it is still a slur. Slurs still cause harm when they are used about situations or actions, because they're still reinforcing the idea that a certain group of people is less worthy. The logic train is mostly subconscious, but it works like this: someone says "this situation is gay" and the implication is "this situation is bad like gay people are bad." If you said a situation was shitty, that would have no meaning if people didn't assume that shit was something unpleasant and unwanted.

So, if someone calls a situation 'gay' or an action 'st*pid' or a thing 'cr*zy' when they find the situation/action/thing upsetting and undesirable, they're (unintentionally) implying that anyone who is put in those categories is also upsetting and undesirable just for existing. When someone uses the word 'b*tching' to mean 'complaining' they are reinforcing misogyny. When someone uses the word 'id*ocy' to mean 'selfish evil' they are reinforcing ableism. (I see that last one so often in people speaking against oppression, and it fucking burns) Etc.

So please, don't call your actions st*pid, or use other slurs to describe things, situations, or actions. Usually what you mean is "illogical" or "thoughtless" or "careless" or "clumsy" anyway -- be more creative! be more accurate! Just take slurs out of your vocabulary completely. There is no acceptable way to use a slur.*

I can't be friends with people who use slurs. When I say I can't deal with this, I don't mean I can't deal with people who call names. That's a problem too, but it is WAY less common. I mean, every time you use these words in ANY WAY AT ALL it stabs me in the soul and there is only so much of that that I can take.

[this is also inversely true.]
This is also inversely true (calling people 'fit' when you mean you find them attractive is fatphobic and saying 'be a man' when you mean 'be brave' is misogynistic, etc) but that's a next-level analysis and at least it doesn't involve slurs. I don't like it but I can tolerate it. it's more like you gave me a hard finger-jab in the soul rather than stabbing.


*except for reclaiming: that is, society puts you in a group labeled with a slur, and you self-identify with that as a way of rejecting the stigma. For instance, I have reclaimed the word "fat" and use it as a self-label. I do not ever use it to mean something negative.

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Comments
merzb ══╣╠══
I agree that people can be more precise about their language when wanting to express certain feelings but that goes beyond slurs. (just look at how people use "ironic" these days...)

But I don't get the unnecessary censorship for certain words. Let me elaborate: I do not clearly see the correlation between censoring some words and solving a perception problem.

Hmm, I use stupid or retarded to describe some things which lack intellectual properties - like, my thesis ;) - and I think I am in the right to do so - but I am open for discussion about that. It doesn't mean I think stupid people are bad. I would agree if someone called me out for saying, for instance, "Ted Bunty was such a retard" because that's not actually correct.

What do you think of the word bitchin in the context: "The party was bitchin!" ?
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
Censorship is when someone with the power to stop people from saying things stops them from actually saying them by threat or coercion, not when someone says they don't like/approve of people saying those things.

You may not see the correlation between use of words and a perception problem, but if that is true then you are unaware of the way words work on perception. As a sociologist and statistician, I assure you that the merest mention activates negative perceptions. If you want to know more, I suggest you read up on stereotype threat.

Using slurs in any negative way reinforces stereotypes. No one is going to ask "does this mean you think stupid people are bad?" because this shit is subconscious and pervasive. You're not in the right to use slurs regardless of your attitude toward the people they reference. It can't harm you to avoid slurs, and it can and does harm others for you to use them. To risk damage to others rather than making a small effort is not a right action.

In that context, I don't know. I wouldn't do it but it could be reclaiming if the person saying it was perceived as female.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.