When trying to end violence and oppression and create a world where all people are treated with dignity, words matter.
And it’s not just the words we say directly to someone’s face, as this video makes clear. (Warning: harsh & degrading language, rape threats, other threats of violence.)
Our words can be violent.
As said in the video, “We wouldn’t say it to their faces. So let’s not type it.”
Our words can blame victims.
When Ray Rice assaulted his girlfriend, many people asked “What did she do to provoke him?”, or “Why did she go back to him?”. Better questions would have focused on the perpetrator and not the victim, such as “Why did he hit her?”, and “How is he going to be held accountable?”.
Our words can police how women dress.
Our words can imprison boys and men inside the Man Box.
Our words can diminish women and make them invisible.
Everyday words, such as “chick” and “babe”, diminish women. Other everyday words, such as “Aldermen”, “Policemen”, and “Freshmen”, when used to describe both women and men, make women invisible within our language.
Even if our words don’t have bad intent, we need to watch the impact of our words.
Our words can be part of the problem, or part of the solution.