slurs

A reason your kids need you to talk to them about their disability

Sometimes parents avoid talking to disabled kids about disability because they don’t want to make them feel different.

The thing is, it’s not actually possible to prevent your child from noticing that they are different. They will notice that they aren’t just like all the other kids. Partly because it’s obvious. Kids compare themselves to other kids, and to adults that they observe. Disability is as noticeable as the fact that some people are fat, female, tall, short, black, white, or whatever else. Kids notice differences. They will notice this difference too. And that’s ok.

They will notice that you are willing to talk about some differences, but not others. If you refuse to talk about disability, they will still know that they are different. They will just learn that you consider the difference unspeakable.

They will also notice what other people think about them and their disability.

People will stare at your child and make disparaging remarks. People will call them the r-word, and every other disability slur. They will say “special” and “special needs” with a sneer. They will make fun of your child for not being able to do things. They will say, or imply, that they would be able to do them if they’d just try harder.

You can stop some people from doing this to your child (and you should), but you can’t stop them from ever encountering it. They will probably encounter it every day. They will know that they are different from other people, and our culture will teach them incredibly destructive things about what that means.

You can’t stop your child from hearing what our culture thinks of disability — and if you don’t talk about disability yourself, your child will believe that you agree with it.

If you don’t talk to your child about their disability, the only words they will have for themselves are slurs they hear other people call them. You can give them better words, and better information.

If you don’t talk to your child about their disability, they will end up with a lot of misinformation about what their difference means. If you talk to them, you can tell them the truth.

tl;dr Refusing to talk to kids about disability doesn’t protect them from feeling different. It just prevents them from getting accurate information about what their disability is and what their difference means. When kids who don’t know the truth about their disability face hate, they have little-to-no protection against internalizing it.

Question for little people

What kind of words do we use to describe adult little people and which ones should we avoid?

I don’t think I have strong enough knowledge of that community to give a nuanced answer to this. (Except the usual standard answer about terminology: try to use the terminology someone prefers for themself, don’t make a big deal out of it, and don’t try to convince someone that they’re describing themself the wrong way).

I do know that Little People of America considers midget to be an offensive slur. 

Do any little people want to weigh in? Which terminology do you prefer? Which terminology do you consider offensive? Why? 

When teachers use ableist slurs

Anonymous asked:

Today we did a spelling test in English,and when someone asked what question two was when we were on question four, the teacher shouted. “Special NEEDS!!”. Is this acceptable??!

I don’t mind teachers swearing at us,but this seems even more inappropriate.

Should I complain?

realsocialskills said:

I think there are two questions here which may have different answers:

  • Did the teacher do something significantly wrong? and
  • Should you complain?

So I’ll consider them separately. The first question is easy. The teacher definitely did something wrong. Several things, actually.

The first thing they did wrong was insult a student who was asking a question. Teachers should encourage questions. It was entirely reasonable for the student to want to have questions they’d missed repeated. Spelling, writing, and paying attention are hard for some people, and a moment of difficulty or inattention shouldn’t mean that you’re not allowed to ask what the question was. It’s really unfair to mark students as not knowing the material when the problem was actually that you refused to make the test accessible to them. That would have been wrong no matter how the teacher chose to insult the student.

It’s especially wrong that the teacher chose to use the insult they used. When they said “special NEEDS!”, they were expressing contempt for students with learning disabilities and learning difficulties. They were also threatening students by implying that if they show disability related struggles, they won’t be seen as having a legitimate place in the class. That’s a horrible kind of sentiment.

They were also showing any students with disabilities who may have been in the room that this teacher is not a safe person to discuss disability-related struggles with. That’s awful, too.

What the teacher said was mean and hateful. Teachers ought to be building their students up, not tearing them down. Teachers ought to be teaching their students to be respectful of everyone, not participating in a culture of ableist hate. Teachers ought to be actively showing their students that they will find solutions that make it possible for them to learn; not insulting them for asking for help. They ought to be actively seeking out effective accessibility and accommodations; not mocking special needs.

The second question is more complicated, and I’m not sure I know the answer to it. It depends on a lot of different things, and I think it is on some level a personal choice.

Some options:

Complaining to the teacher directly:

  • I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this in your situation, but:
  • Some teachers who say this kind of hurtful thing don’t understand the implications of what they’re saying
  • Sometimes when someone points it out to them, they listen and stop doing it
  • This is risky, especially if you are in grade school rather than university.
  • I wouldn’t recommend talking to this teacher about the problem directly unless you have a generally good relationship to them and have reason to believe that they’d care what you think and listen seriously

Talking to another teacher:

  • Is there another teacher you trust to understand why this was an awful thing to say?
  • If so, it might be worth talking to them and seeing what they think is the best way to proceed
  • (But be careful about this too - some teachers in this situation might not understand that you’re vulnerable and might repeat things or  pressure you to confront the mean teacher in ways that are not in your interests)

Talking to an authority figure:

  • I know that it can sometimes be done effectively, but I don’t know how to describe how to do it
  • One thing is that you can’t assume that they will understand why this is a big deal
  • But you can sometimes insist that it is a big deal
  • It helps to be as polite as possible in every way aside from the fact that you’re pushing the issue
  • (Eg: It is helpful to refrain from shouting or swearing, dressing in a way that’s against the rules, or doing anything else they can claim is a discipline problem)
  • It also helps to be pushing for a specific solution. If there’s a built in thing they can do that would get you to stop bothering them, they’re much more likely to do something
  • (Figuring out what to ask for can be complicated. What do you want? Do you want the head teacher to tell your teacher that they can’t say things like that? Do you want a general memo going out about why you can’t say things like that? Do you want to put a letter of complaint in their file? Do you want to to be transferred into a different English class? You might be able to get one of those things to happen if you push in the right ways.)

Involving your parents:

  • If your parents are supportive and understand why this is a big deal, it might be worth talking to them about ways they might help you with this
  • Sometimes teachers and administrators who don’t listen to teenagers do listen to their parents
  • Parents can also sometimes be anti-helpful, so I don’t know whether this is a good idea or a bad idea for you. You’re the best judge of that.

Talking to other students:

  • You might be in a position to influence and/or support other students here.
  • Do you think other students think this was wrong? 
  • Do you think they know that you think it was wrong?
  • Knowing that someone else thinks it was wrong can make a huge difference to people who are vulnerable
  • There’s probably at least one other student who you could support in this way
  • (Possibly discreetly, like talk to a particular person alone at lunch and say something like: Hey, did you hear what Ms. Meanteacher said to Rina the other day during the spelling test? That was so mean/ableist! Why do teachers think that’s ok?“ Or "Why is Mr. Meanteacher always insulting us?”)

Beyond that, I’m not sure what to suggest. Do any of y'all have ideas about what might be effective in this situation? (Answers from people who are familiar with the education system in the UK would be particularly helpful.)

For the sake of vocabulary-building

What are some good words that are either:

  • Swears (eg: fuck)
  • Not-quite-swears that are clearly substitutes for actual cussing (eg: exclaiming fudge or sugar, saying something stinks instead of saying it sucks, etc) 
  • Clean insult words/phrases (“go step on legos”, asinine)

These are important words, and I know y'all know some I don’t.

It takes more than etymology to make a slur

Do you think words with etymologies based on oppression (like “idiot” or “hysterical”) but are no longer used that way now should be considered slurs? Do you think most people consider them slurs? I’ve heard some compelling arguments for why they should be treated like slurs, but I’ve also heard some good reasons for why they shouldn’t be, and it’s all very confusing.
realsocialskills answered:
I don’t think etymology is important. I think what’s important is how a word is used.
If something is used as a slur, then it’s a slur even if it has a neutral etymology. (People try to argue that the r-word isn’t a slur because it literally just means slow. Those people are wrong.)
If something is not used as a slur, then it’s not one even if it has an etymology based on oppression or hate. (For instance: “autism” has an etymology based on dehumanizing autistic people, but it’s not a slur.)
This gets complicated because sometimes people will claim that something “isn’t a slur anymore” even when it clearly is. If people the word is used against think it’s still a slur, then it’s a slur even if some people think they “don’t mean it that way”. (The g-word is a good example of this.)
I think that there are also words that are somewhat tainted by oppressive etymologies or connotations. It can be worthwhile to personally try to avoid using those words. (I avoid some, but not all, tainted words for that reason). But it’s dangerous to treat these words as actually being the same as slurs. One reason it’s important not to do this is that it causes serious problems for people with language disabilities. This is a good example of the importance of understanding the difference between personal piety and basic morality.

calculusandcreamteas:

mellopetitone:

Hierarchies of cussing

realsocialskills:

I’ve never understood which swearwords are worse than others. It’s only in very recent years that I’ve heard people saying that the c-word is the worst of all. Before that I…

calculusandcreamteas said:

While freaking is in many ways a mild swear it is also a potential trigger for those bullied and harmed as a ‘freak’.

realsocialskills said:

I hadn’t thought of that. Do any of y'all also see it that way?

Hierarchies of cussing

anonymous asked:
I’ve never understood which swearwords are worse than others. It’s only in very recent years that I’ve heard people saying that the c-word is the worst of all. Before that I assumed the f-word was the worst swearword. Is there a pretty specific hierarchy of severity?
 

realsocialskills answered:

It depends on the context.

There are different kinds of swear words:

  • Profanity based on religious concepts (“Go to hell”, “Goddammit”)
  • Sexual or scatological swears (“Fuck off”, “shit”)
  • Then there are slurs that derive their power from invoking hatred of a particular group (eg, the n-word, the r-word, the t-word and the g-word (I don’t like to spell out slurs - if you don’t know which words I mean, send me an ask and I’ll tell you).

There is also some ambiguity:

  • Sexual swears have substantial overlap with misogynist or homophobic slurs
  • Telling someone to “fuck off” generally isn’t a slur, but telling someone they need to get laid often is, and calling someone a 
  • Calling someone a bastard or an SOB tends to not be meant literally or intended to invoke stigma associated with being born out of wedlock. But it definitely has origins as a slur and is often still intentionally used that way. It’s the kind of swear word that is highly context dependent - in some situations it’s considered a fairly mild swear; among people who are regularly called those things as slurs it is *not* mild
  • In the US, calling someone the c-word is a misogynist slur. I’m not sure that’s the case in other parts of the world

Which type of swear word is considered more severe is heavily context-dependent:

  • In secular culture, religion-related profanity is generally considered the mildest. That is not necessarily the case among religious people.
  • Slurs properly *ought* to be considered the worst words, but they tend not to be. For instance, you can say them on television without bleeping in the US, but you can’t say most of the sexual and scatological swears
  • But some people aren’t offended at all by “fuck”, but are extremely offended by slurs (that might be behind people’s reaction to the word "cunt").

A lot also depends on how the word is being used. There are a lot of nuances. For instance, here are some variations on the uses of scatological, sexual, and profane swear words:

  • Saying a word by itself to express frustration or pain is one of the more mild forms of swearing (eg: dropping something on your toe and exclaiming “fuck!”). This is generally considered acceptable for adults, although the range of words considered acceptable varies. 
  • This is generally not considered acceptable for young children; the age at which it becomes socially acceptable depends a lot on where you are
  • Using a cuss word to describe someone or their work is considered more severe (eg: “That’s a shitty piece of art.”; “People who think that’s ok can just fuck right off”)
  • Actually saying the word to someone you think it about directly is the most severe form of swearing, generally speaking (eg: “Fuck you”.)

These words can get really complicated and confusing, and the rules are different in different places. It’s not just you - it’s confusing and context dependent.

Hello, I was wondering, how do you guys feel about the usage of “derp”, “herp derp”, “duh” and the like? Can they be considered ableist slurs?
I think it might depend somewhat on context.
“Duh” with a certain inflection can be an ableist slur. There’s an inflection that is making fun of speech disorders (and perceived associated intellectual disability). Drawn-out forms that are more like “duuuuuuuuh” are usually slurs of this type.
Sometimes it just means something like “That’s incredibly obvious,” or “Why would you ask something that damn obvious?” That can be an obnoxious thing to say, but for reasons other than being a slur.
“Derp” and “herp derp” aren’t words I understand well. I know some people think they’re ableist and some people think they aren’t, but I’m not sufficiently familiar with the words to have an opinion.
Any of y'all want to weigh in?

Avoiding slurs is not about sanitizing language

andreashettle:

realsocialskills:

Cussing is important. Here are some uses:

  • Expressing boundaries in forceful language
  • Expressing emphatic contempt
  • Expressing distress

Sometimes it’s ok to insult people. Sometimes it’s important to be rude.

Slurs aren’t part of this, though. It’s not ok to insult someone by comparing them to an oppressed group. It’s not ok to insult someone by referencing their membership in an oppressed group.

Lists of things to say rather than “that’s so gay" or “that’s so r-word" tend to be long lists of big words that are clean and polite. They shouldn’t be, though. There’s no moral obligation to use long words. There’s no moral obligation to always use clean language.

The problem with slurs is that they help to keep marginalized groups marginalized. They hurt innocent people, and they hurt guilty people in ways no one deserves.

So, when the situation calls for cussing at or about someone, use swear words. Don’t use slurs.

And if you can’t bring yourself to use swear words, ever, then STILL don’t use slurs. Use it as an opportunity to excercise your brain in creativity in devising insults or other forms of strong or emphatic language without using slurs or any of the swear words you aren’t comfortable with.

Yes. Slurs are *more* obscene than swears, not less.

gangewifre:

Social skills for autonomous people: youneedacat: Social skills for autonomous people: clatterbane: Social…

youneedacat:

way too many folks casually use the term “gypped” and i cringe every single time. 

folks, that term is derived from the slur “gypsy” which refers to the romani peoples. many of us use this term to self-identify or to identify our families (my family uses the term constantly), but it’s not a word for you to use. we use it as an act of reclamation.

and we don’t use “gypped” because it’s an awful term and nobody should use it ever, thanks.

Thank you.

And similarly:

  • “Gypsy” is an ethnic slur. It’s not ok to call something a “gypsy lifestyle” unless you’re a member of an ethic group that slur is used against and you’re reclaiming it
  • It’s not ok to name your cat “gypsy”. Because it is a slur. And it’s not ok to name pets slurs.
  • Similarly clothing. It’s not ok to use slurs to refer to clothing styles.

And, just generally speaking, keep in mind that it’s a slur, and that it refers to and harms people.

You may have grown up seeing lots of caricatures and stereotypes in TV and stories attached to that slur. You may have had no idea that the slur is a reference to an actual group of people. You may have said that slur over and over without realizing it was hurting anyone.

This is not your fault. But it does not mean it was ok or harmless for you to say the word them. It just means you didn’t know you were hurting people.

And now that you do know that it’s a slur that hurts people, stop saying it.

lanthir replied to your post: secret-x-stars asked realsocialskills:

hi,…Yeah. Stuff like ‘gash’ and ‘hatchet wound’ and such are misogynistic terms for the vulva.

Duly noted.

Edited to add: I’ve been informed that “duly noted” sounds dismissive. So I wanted to say that what I meant was “Good to know. I will take this into consideration in the future.”

dogprob replied to your post: secret-x-stars asked realsocialskills:

hi,…when youre referring to a specific kind of genital i think its typically better to just say the organ youre talking about than call them female or male parts, like if youre talking about folks affected by abortion you can say people with uteri

I do that in some contexts, but it doesn’t work in all contexts.

It didn’t work for me in this context because:

  • I was talking specifically about a misogynist slur. It’s a specifically gendered insult and I don’t think there’s a good way of explaining it that’s gender-neutral.
  • Because it’s not an anti-vulva slur, it’s an anti-*women* slur. Even though not all women have vulvas and not all people who have vulvas are women.
  • Also, I wasn’t 100% sure which part of anatomy was meant. Just that it was a misogynist genital-targetting slur.

Beyond that, I often find it very difficult to use person-first language, because of how cumbersome it is. It makes it difficult to say a lot of things. There are things I can’t say using person-first language that I think it’s important to say.

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

And…

  • 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.

hi, sorry… wrt: your latest post, i was wondering what ‘gash’ is a slur of. i tried to google it but i can’t find anything. :( thank you for your help
I haven’t actually heard it before today.
My guess based on context is that it’s a misogynist reference to female* genitals.
Does anyone know if that’s right?
(*by which I mean body parts usually, but not always, associated with women. Some people who are women don’t have them; some people who are not women do.)

About avoiding slurs

eggsnemesis:

realsocialskills:

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

And…

  • 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.

jonathanbogart:

Social skills for autonomous people: quixylvre: alternianpride: Social skills for autonomous people: About…

quixylvre:

alternianpride:

Social skills for autonomous people: About avoiding slurs

realsocialskills:

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…

Squaw Valley has been renamed Olympic Valley. (Similarly, Squaw Peak in Arizona was renamed Piestewa Peak, after a Hopi female soldier killed in Iraq.) There are still some businesses using the Squaw Valley name, and I would recommend that anyone in a position to patronize them not do so, but while offensive place names still exist, many of them are slowly being replaced, or have alternative, non-offensive names that people can look up and use instead.

quixylvre:

alternianpride:

Social skills for autonomous people: About avoiding slurs

realsocialskills:

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…

“Squaw” is not an appropriate term for a native woman.

Do not use it.

Ever.

What about  when it’s part of a geographical proper-noun (capital-letter name) like “Squaw Valley, California" (site of the 1960 winter olympics)?

I don’t know what to say about this beyond that if you have power over names of places, don’t name them things like that.

Does any of y'all have an answer to this?

alternianpride:

Social skills for autonomous people: About avoiding slurs

realsocialskills:

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…

“Squaw” is not an appropriate term for a native woman.

Do not use it.

Ever.

Social skill: about slurs

Some general principles about saying slur words:

If something is a slur for a group you are not part of, it is not ok for you to use that word in conversation (and proceed with extreme caution about writing fictional characters who use that word). You should not call anyone else that word (even if it’s how they refer to themselves), and you should not call yourself that word. And you should not use that word to make a point of how marginalized your group is. 

Some words are slurs some of the time, but not all of the time. For instance, someone who is Jewish is a Jew, and calling them a Jew is not a slur. But if you say, “Oh, you’re such a *Jew*” to someone who you think is being unduly stingy, that *is* a slur, and it’s not ok.

Some words used to not be slurs, but are now. So you shouldn’t say them, but you also shouldn’t be horrified if you find them in old books or articles, or if elderly people still use those words without intending a slur. Other words have *always* been slurs, and you *should* be offended if old books or elderly people say them. But I’m not sure how to say which are which without hurting people, and some of the lines are blurry.

Some words are considered impolite by well-meaning people outside a group, but are actually the preferred terms people use to refer to themselves, and you should use those words. For instance, some non-disabled people think that “disabled” is offensive and that people should say “differently-abled”, but most people who actually *have* disabilities find that annoying or offensive. (Likewise “autistic” vs “person with autism”).

This is different from reclaiming slurs – some people use slur words to refer to themselves as a way of dealing with the pain those words cause, but don’t want other people to use those words. It can be hard to tell the difference, sometimes. If you make a mistake, apologize (and don’t make a big deal out of explaining what you Really Meant, it will probably make things worse).

Some slur words are widely used by people who don’t realize they are slurs, and who have no intention of insulting or expressing bias toward anyone. It’s still not ok to use those words, because the people they apply to *do* know they’re slurs, and they’re still hurt by them. But there is still a difference between people intentionally using slurs to insult people, and trying to use the right words but failing.

Also, some people with communication disabilities can’t change the words they use, or can’t do so and still retain an ability to communicate. This doesn’t make actual hateful speech from them ok, and it doesn’t render things harmless, but it’s important to be aware that this is a thing and not treat using correct language as an absolute precondition to being included in a space.