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
queer
belenen ══╣queer╠══
repurposing? *confused* can you explain?

I feel ya on queer, I actually never heard it used in a derogatory context so I forget that it can be a slur.

YESSSS. Glad you get that about 'fit' as a synonym for 'thin.'
raidingparty ══╣╠══
I'm totally on board with acknowledging the ways in which mental-ability-slurs are harmful.
I'm trying to think of the ways in which I do use them, and if there are less-victimizing descriptors to fill in the space for things I do want to say. Assuming they have a utility for me, I would like to replace them if possible.
The latter is easier to go over; it's not a necessary epithet by any stretch of the imagination... the Shakespearian Insult Generator supplies any number of other organs to belittle. Simple-mindedness isn't offensive to me, and I rarely have need to comment on it (I suppose I can see caring for someone and needing to explain to someone else so they can be accomodated appropriately). A more accurate description of the problem is stubborn and/or willful ignorance... and I can use that phrase (or related assery), so problem solved.
Insanity is much more difficult to pull away from, but the specific words should depend again on the specific uses. While I don't remember the last time I've said "crazy", I have a sense of myself and friends using it in place of impetuous, ill-considered, hard-to-understand, incomprehensible, irrational, dangerous, violent, vindictive, manic, overloaded, fugue... nothing else at the moment, I'm sure there are others. And again, it looks like while there's a much wider variety of responses needed (especially since such a nondescript shortcut for mental health problems runs the gamut of completely disparate conditions), it's still possible to use something else. I have to admit it's going to be difficult to reprogram three decades' worth of habit, but I'm ready to start.

Appendix: Also looking at a way of relating people with different abilities. I'm not sure if there's a good way to describe measurable qualities as "greater" or "lesser" that doesn't allow assumption about the underlying value of the person with those qualities.
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.