About avoiding slurs



There are a lot of slurs that are so ingrained into English-speaking culture that people who say them don’t always realize that they are slurs.

  • People say them without meaning them as slurs, but they still hurt people
  • Because people also say them as intentional slurs
  • And it’s not usually obvious which is which
  • And even when people genuinely don’t mean it that way, hearing slurs about your group all the time hurts
  • Also, sometimes the people who are using the slur don’t know that the group it’s about actually exists
  • Being erased to the point that people only know about the stereotype is also really horrible


  • Often when people in the target group point out the slurs, people react badly
  • Instead of apologizing and fixing it, they get angry and hostile
  • And often behave in really humiliating (or even dangerous) ways towards the person who pointed it out
  • Reacting that way is fairly similar to using a slur intentionally
  • You can’t actually invoke a trope related to the slur without also invoking the slur in ways that hurt people it’s used against
  • Even if you would never react that way, people in the target group don’t know that when you say the word.

I’m a bit uneasy about saying those words, so I’m not going to include any examples. (I’m not sure that’s the right decision, but that’s what I’m doing for this post). But if people these words are used against want to reblog with comments or send asks, that would be very welcome.

CONTENT WARNING: Gonna name drop some sexist/homophobic slurs here.

I hope I don’t ever lash out at someone just trying to ask me not to be hurtful and will try to keep that in mind when they bring something up. I know there are words I use that I either slip up and use accidentally because they’re so ingrained or words that I’m STILL not sure count as slurs or just regular insults (even in the other reblogs of this post you can see how people disagree on certain words or terms). And some words that I’ve only been taught recently have been slurs. 

THAT BEING SAID - it is still not okay for me to hurt people with them and I would definitely prefer being called out on it rather than keep using them. BUT it’s also my responsibility to pay attention and not have to wait around for me to use the words and thus force someone to call me out before i’m willing to change them. And I think that second bit is just as important, so you can prevent people being hurt not just apologize.

(I’m going to go slightly off topic over the next bit)

And some words really depend on the context - like “slut" is definitely a slur but I really have no problem with someone using the term “slut-shaming" even if they’re a cis man because that term is separate and SPECIFICALLY USED to DISMANTLE the slur. While calling yourself a slut is a different kind of reclamation and DOES NOT mean that if a woman calls herself a slut it’s okay to call her one. 

Then there are words I’ve reclaimed that I don’t mind if someone uses about me - I’m a queer woman. It’s okay, you can call me queer. But for me, I grew up with “queer" already being reclaimed by the movement, and I don’t blame anyone for not being as comfortable with it as me.

Whereas my hackles would be up if you called me a dyke, but I know some lesbians who would describe themselves as such (but I also don’t identify as a lesbian, I identify as queer - which puts dyke in a weird territory for me I think, even though I’m dating a woman).

And then there was the very first time I heard the word “gash" (The sentence was “sucks to have a gash i guess" in regards to a feminist article) and I INSTANTLY understood it was a slur even though I’d never heard it before. That word I will not tolerate and will not reclaim. Sometimes the meaning is clear even if you don’t know for certain it’s a slur. 

This stuff gets complicated.