Content Warning: This post does contain discriminatory language. I’m using the terms to argue AGAINST, their use, but, still… you’ve been warned.
Australian of the Year, David Morrison has sparked anger after suggesting that people should refrain from using the term “guys” in the workplace because it’s sexist. This has caused a storm and fierce criticism, particularly from conservatives in the media. I agree. This is political correctness gone mad. I use the time “guys” often – when referring to men and women. No one takes offence. Morrison needs to re – evaluate what he wants to do to achieve gender equality, I think.
Author of the “Spectator” and columnist for the “The Courier Mail”, Rowan Dean, has spat it, both on Sky’s “The Bolt Report” and “Paul Murray Live”. He is sick of political correctness and argues that he’ll say what he likes; gay, guys, etc, etc.
While I don’t agree with Morrison, as I stated above, should words be open slather? Like….
- Retarded – a derogatory term against someone with a disability (especially intellectual disability)
- Ape – for people of Aboriginal ancestry or any racial slur
- Faggot/ fag
- Four – eyes (for those who wear glasses).
Are all these words OK? Should these be allowed in a polite society?
So, should there be a limit? I think most people would agree that there is. The “guy” ban, though takes it too far. I think it’s fair to say that most people – both men and women – don’t find the terms “guys” as discriminatory, where as with the words above, many people do agree they can be hurtful.
Words can reinforce discrimination too. The reason why the term “ape” is so offensive to people of Aboriginal ancestry is because the term has historically been used to dehumanise Aboriginal people and legitimise the past discrimination that Aboriginal people faced.
The term “retarded, when used in jokes or colloquially is frowned upon, because it’s used to exclude people with a disability and enforces the false idea that people with a disability are stupid.
A gay man explains the origin of the word “faggot” in this Huffington Post article. A “faggot” used to be a bunch of sticks that were set alight in order to burn gays, or people suspected of being gay, to death in the Middle Ages. The term often goes hand – in – hand with the bullying and physical violence that LGBT people, especially gay men, still face. I would add another point to that. The term is an excused to dehumanize gays. I mean, it’s a bundle of sticks, for crying out loud, a lifeless object that, if you take it’s traditional definition, can be destroyed in a heartbeat. Is that the way to refer to people? Red – blooded human beings?
So, I disagree with Dean, here. No, not all words are OK. Just because David Morrison took it one step too far, doesn’t mean that you can use terms that are made to marginalise, discriminate and, in some cases, incite violence against others.