Wearing The Oppressor’s Armor

A modern day actor in medieval knight armor pa...

A modern day actor in medieval knight armor patterned after the original. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

There are certain words that polite society has come to accept are not acceptable. We understand that these words cut and have an important history for the oppressed. Some of them the oppressed have reclaimed for their use, while others are too painful to be used, even by those who have a right to. Far too often, however, people try to justify their use of these words, usually on the flimsiest of grounds.

The most famous bs excuse is the “historical” meaning of the word. Yeah, great, because it was used one way in the past completely erases the horrible misuse of the word in between. Usually it is some white schmuck using the “n word” but the most recent I have seen was a man using the “c word.” Angry that he had been called out by so many women he linked to a Wikipedia entry (my go-to source for serious debate, of course.)

It really bugs me when so-called progressives do this, and frankly I see more blatant sexism of this type from them than from conservatives. You know, because it is so much  harder to step back and say “whoa, I’m sorry. I was being thoughtless.” Is it really so difficult to look at how you may be hurting someone else? Is it really too much to ask you to not dig for some lame excuse as to why the word is OK, and look at how it has been used to oppress women.

The sad part is this is coming from a man I thought was reasonably intelligent and compassionate. It was coming from a Man of Color that I thought was an empathetic individual. I am sure it was frustrating, being called out, especially considering so many of the people doing so were likely white women, who probably were displaying a generous amount of their privilege in doing so. So I get the irritation, but that does not make the call out wrong.

It is never right, for anyone enjoying privilege, to justify to an oppressed group the use of a word they tell you hurts them. Yes, I know (even while disliking Oppression Olympics) that Men of Color enjoy less privilege than white women. I get that, but it still does not make it OK. In fact, where that particular word is I would argue, that it is even more hurtful to Women of Color considering how much more objectified they are by our society. Keeping in mind I cannot know what it is like for a WoC so, please, any of you , please chime in.

It is difficult for me to understand why people do this. It should be as simple as “do unto others.”  You would want someone to respect your boundaries and the fact that certain words are triggering and hurtful to you. So why are you unwilling to extend that courtesy to others. If someone says, “hey, it really bothers you when you say that,” just don’t say it. At least not where they can hear it. Of course I don’t mean you need to silence yourself when someone does not want to hear your argument, but if a particular word is hurtful just avoid it. If you really want to call yourself a decent person, and I am sure you do, just do the kind thing and listen, rather than wanting so bad to be heard.

 

 

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