Join Prism Book Alliance® as Lynley Wayne goes Outside the Margins today.
As a writer I am aware of the power of words. I think we all are on some level, but for those of us who choose to make a living by our words alone, we have a better understanding of how one poorly chosen word can affect the meaning of what we are trying to say. We have all had reviews where the message we were trying to portray was lost because we somehow failed to make it clear to that reader. It happens.
Sometimes I don’t think people truly grasp the power of words. Some words gather power from the societally use of the word, rather than the actual meaning. Faggot. Gay. Fag. Those are three examples. Society has taken innocuous words and turned them into something else, something used to shame, to separate, to classify people. Something to set them apart from the majority. Homophobic slurs have been used so much some people don’t even realize the negative connotations attached. Calling something “gay” has become a way of saying it’s lame or stupid, and I’d wager more than half the people who use “gay” in that way don’t realize they are in essence belittling everyone who identifies as gay. I saw a video where a group of teens watched a celebrity apologize after he had called a paparazzi a faggot. Here’s the link. I find it interesting that one kid admits he never thought about it as a homophobic slur. How many adults would say the same thing?
When I was a kid I heard things like “nigger rigged” and “Jewed them down”. It wasn’t until I was around fifteen or so I realized those terms were racial slurs and that by using them I was perpetuating racism. Until today, I had never used those terms again. I am only doing so today, to make my point and I hope in doing so I do not offend anyone. If so, I apologize.
My point is, kids hear things and they use the same language as the adults in their lives, even without knowing the meanings behind them. We as adults, whether we are parents or not, have a responsibility to choose our words carefully. With one thoughtless word you have the ability to destroy a human being. In the same light, you also have the potential to change a life for the better.
While LGBTQ rights are something I’m passionate about, and they are making great progress, it’s not just the racial and homophobic slurs I’m talking about. Another video I saw recently was this one. Watching this all I could do was shake my head.
In recent years women’s rights have been on trial. You’d think in 2015 what a woman does with her body would be her business and not the business of a bunch of Senators and Congressmen. Apparently, you’d be wrong. But that’s a whole other blog post. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s all connected to the fact that like it or not, women are still being treated as a minority. In the above video they showed how the term “like a girl” has much the same connotations as “faggot”. When did being a girl become somehow less than being a human being?
I believe each and every one of these examples are all said without thought, more often than they are said with malice. Yet, each time they are said, they do harm. When you tell a young boy he throws like a girl, you are teaching him that girls are less, and that he is less because he is behaving like one. You are telling your daughter no matter how smart, or kind, or generous she is, she will always be less than. When you said that’s gay, you are telling the kid who has spend the last year trying to figure out how to admit he likes boys, that he’s less than. You are telling him the world doesn’t care about him because he is different.
Now imagine that’s your son, daughter, brother, sister, cousin, best friend, neighbor, coworker, parent, aunt, uncle, etc. Because they may not be yours, but they are someone’s. If a stranger walked up to one of your loved ones and said, point blank, “You are less than. You don’t matter,” I doubt you would laugh it off or let it slide.
Words have power. We as a society need to be more careful with our words. We need to educate the younger generations so they do not repeat the same mistakes.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment.
Lynley was a 2014 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. She published her first book in September of 2012 and hasn’t looked back. When not writing she can found reading or coming up with creative ways to avoid housework. While Lynley Wayne may be a pen name, the woman behind it is very real and believes everyone is entitled to their own version of happiness. She looks forward to the day when who, or how, we love is no longer an issue.
Twitter: www.twitter.com/LynleyWayne or @LynleyWayne
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About Lynley Wayne
Lynley was a 2014 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. She published her first book in September of 2012 and hasn’t looked back. When not writing she can found reading or coming up with creative ways to avoid housework. While Lynley Wayne may be a pen name, the woman behind it is very real and believes everyone is entitled to their own version of happiness. She looks forward to the day when who or how we love is no longer an issue.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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