Saturday, August 03, 2013

Sometimes It's What You Don't Say

I determined a long while back that I was going to learn to speak differently. I wanted language for a vehicle for expressing meaning, humour, outrage, gentleness, anger, gratefulness ... everything, without using words tinged with disrespect. The 'r word' went long ago. Then, after a gentle challenge here on this blog, I committed myself to eliminating words like 'crazy' or 'nuts' or 'insane' along with 'deaf' and 'blind' and 'lame' when those words referred to anything other than disability. I thought it would be hard to do, it isn't, unless you think pausing for a second to think up another word is hard. But hell, I pause to decide between chocolate and vanilla, and then I pause again to consider the possibility of strawberry ... so pausing isn't the big deal some make of it.

Then, most recently, I've decided that I really don't like the way 'b*tch' flies out of my mouth in reference to complaining or when someone, male or female, does something I don't like. After those other words had pretty much been retired, the stark ugliness, of the 'b-word' hit me. I hear it everywhere and I used it more than I, now, like to admit. So, I've been on trying, really trying, to take it from my speech, and from my writing, and hope that eventually it will leave my consciousness as a word choice all together.

I have many women in my life, I have little girls that I love living in my heart - I don't want, in any way, to contribute to them ever being called such a degrading word. So ... it now part of my journey.

Here's something I wrote on Facebook yesterday:

"So, a couple times ago, the first time we stayed at this hotel, they had NO disabled parking. It was difficult for us to negotiate the wheelchair and luggage in a cramped space. I complained, I was reassured it was 'on the agenda'. I came back two months later and there was still no disabled parking. I raised bloody hell. When I was reassured it was coming I called 'lie' to that - they said it before, didn't do it. I wrote letters, I contacted the parent company. I got reassurance after reassurance that it would be done. So, a year has passed, Joe and I were betting on whether or not the spaces would be there. We both thought 'probably not' ... they were there!! Four lovely spaces!! It really did help. We've dubbed them the 'moan and whine' spaces ... there should be a plaque."

You see where I've written 'moan and whine'? I want you to know that just before I pushed the button to put this on my page, I'd written, out of habit, "b*tch and moan," I saw it, stopped, and you know what? It took me only as long as it takes to erase and to retype, to change the words. That's all.

Less time than it takes me to decide 'Oreos' or 'Chocolate Chip' which admittedly is a big decision.

Less time.

But ... time well spent.


Jan Goldfield said...

Were you aware that the majority of curse words refer to women? Thanks for eliminating at least one from your vocabulary.

Anonymous said...

I loved your post. Right after reading it, I came across this quote:
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. Viktor E. Frankl

Anonymous said...

Ah - the permanent journey toward self-improvement.

I kept the swear words out of the vocabulary in front of the kids until the last one was over 18 (with maybe a couple of slipups).

Then I relaxed - but I still keep those words for serious occasions.

Maybe disability forces you to think about things more, but it sure is a hard way to do it because there is so much less energy, and it takes energy to police yourself.

It eventually becomes second nature: I cringe when I look back at my casual racism or sexism, and thank God I now see beauty where before I saw otherness. It took many, many years.

I'm still working on all the automatic thoughts connected with disability - I don't have it any easier than anyone else in not buying into the 'culture' that surrounds me - and I've been disabled for 24 years!

Self-improvement is not for the faint of heart.

Anonymous said...

The Tongue

"If any-one does not stumble in what says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body."

"With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come blessings and cursing. My brother, these things should not be this way. Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water."

James 3:2b, 9-12 (Bible)

Kudos to you for trying to tame your tongue. And thank you for the challenge.

Deb said...

Watching what we say is a challenge, a challenge for the good.

Thanks Dave!

wheeliecrone said...

Why were they "moan and whine" spaces?
I don't see them that way.
I see them as "expressing a legitimate complaint and repeating it as necessary" spaces.

Anonymous said...

Wheeliecrone, I think they mean that satirically. A lot of people seem to think that handicapped parking spaces were created for people who are too lazy to walk a little extra, people who "moan and whine" about having to "get off their lazy asses," etc. etc.
It's strange, but I love curse words. I the word "fuck" sounds so good on my tongue, and I love the strength I feel when I refer to myself as a bitch, because when society says that being tough and aggressive and assertive makes me a bitch, and I think that it describes just what I want to be. But yes, I would definitely take less kindly to someone who identifies as male using it, and I never refer to anyone else as a bitch unless they say they don't mind or like it.

Jayne Wales said...

I so hate the word bitch. It is a nasty word if applied in any way to a woman. I think it needs to only be applied if ever in a moment when the word really is deserved. . I'm talking someone really cruel and then I don't really care what that person is called. But I don't think it is right from a man. I think it is ok from another woman in those circumstances. I'm a bit unsure why I think that but I could hear it from another woman but not a man.
See I am on a road of thinking about it. I heard my elderly neighbour say it to his wife about his wife. It really made me recoil and I haven't forgotten it, I just looked uncomfortable but did not say anything. Next time I will.

Jayne Wales said...

My Mum hates anyone saying cow. I used to think that was ok until I saw how offended she was. We need to think about what these words mean to others. I have noticed " the c word really starting to be said. That to me is completely taboo unless I'm in a very select company and I struggle then. It has to be jokey not in anger.

Anonymous said...

Late entry - Sorry, I'm catching up on my blog reading. The word "Bitch" can be very powerful. In the past I have been very accomodating and have been taken advantage of, I was a "nice girl". Somehow, I got a backbone and became more assertive. At first, I thought "Oh no, I couldn't be a bitch" but if it means that I am powerful, strong, not a pushover, thinking woman - then I wear the label.