I saw this picture today on a website, and it made me think. I am a Social Worker, and I learnt a lot about anti-discriminatory practice and anti-oppressive practice while studying for my degree. I also did two and a half placements in mental health, and worked at a home for adults living with Cerebral Palsy for the duration of my study.
I am very aware of the importance of words. Being a writer myself, I know that words have strong meaning, and they can be very oppressive, empowering or liberating. However, I have always had it at the back of my mind that sometimes when we discard certain words and replace them for more refined words, we really haven’t actually improved anything for anyone! Sometimes, it’s really just very confusing!
A lot of the time, I personally feel it is political correctness gone mad! For instance, I wonder how many people would prefer to be called “special” instead of “different”? When you say someone is “special”, that can also be condescending, in a “Daddy’s little princess” sort of way. Or maybe, they are far above the rest of us, needing special attention and care. Difference is actually a positive word, because WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT! No two people are the same. The word I’d prefer to use is UNIQUE, not special.
I don’t know if I’m touching on anybody’s nerves here, but this sort of thing gets on my nerves. Yes, we must keep learning and becoming less oppressive with our words, but what I’ve also noticed is that some old discarded words come back in style… E.g. there are quite a lot of African-Americans that prefer to be called Coloured than Black. So really, are the changes in words making that big a difference to the real issues at hand?
Let me know what you think in the comments section. I am willing to be corrected.
Photo credit: http://www.catchsmile.com
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