Warning: There is adult and discriminative language that is used in this article.
Words are not inherently evil or good. They give us a way to communicate with each other. They let us express and learn about each other. They also divide us. Words matter. As a woman, I have struggled with words and labels used against my fellow sisters and me. For example, bitch, slut, whore, bossy, high-maintenance, feisty, hysterical, hormonal, mistress, hussy, etc. These words and countless others have been used to make women question their worth.
Simple words have been known to take down kingdoms. It is the most powerful weapon we use on our enemies. I think as a society we forget that. We forget just how powerful they are and reputation of them makes them more powerful.
There is something else that we forget about words. We give them power. Yes, most words have discriminatory backgrounds that will not and should not be erased. However, we can take the control out of them. Like bitch, the definition is a female dog, used to dehumanize a whole gender. We can change the meaning. Gay meant happy back in the day, and that got rebranded why can’t words like bitch or slut.
The moment I realized taking control of the negative words used against groups of people is so much better than letting it affect me was when I was walking to class. I was behind a student that had maybe ten to fifteen pins on her backpack. I knew she was in the LGBTQ+ community. I knew of her through a mutual friend. One of her pins had a rainbow with the word fag in white letters. I was taken back. All I could think was how could someone in the community advertise a word that has been used to shame a whole community based on who they loved. But then it hit me; she is using the very word people have probably used as a weapon towards her. The word turns into just a word. If it couldn’t be used as a weapon to shame her but instead celebrate her being her authentic self, it can no longer do any harm.
In a perfect world, this would be a simple task. A simple solution to the ever-growing discrimination problem we have. But it won’t happen overnight. If I’m honest, if someone called me a fag I probably would be hurt. It’s not a fix to the problem it’s more like a band-aid until the discrimination doesn’t exist any longer. But it’s a band-aid that could save a life.