Do you use this word? What about ‘reclaiming’ it as a negative, and referring to your friends using the sobriquet? I’m not so certain that marching in a large group, reclaiming a word is really addressing the issue, or simply adding more layers to the confusion.
With all derogatory terms, you are seeking to distance yourself from the person or behaviour you are not in favor of, or thinking that free use of the word among your friends and acquaintances will remove the hurtful power that the words contain. If you listen to any hip-hop or rap, you will hear N****r, B***h, W***e thrown about with abandon. Some claim that it has inured us to the “shock value of the word, and created an environment that ferments the growth of misogyny and racism. Others have spoken to the power in ‘reclaiming’ the words to remove their ability to demean and deride.
What I see is the tacit acceptance of these words being acceptable commonly used terms in conversations, attitudes and even political discussions. While I would never consider calling someone N****r, I’m also brought up short when I see others doing it. Does that make me “too PC”, or just aware of the connotations and the separation that the word brings?
These words stir the emotions and are meant to be derogatory, to give YOU a feeling of superiority. I don’t care who uses them – they are essentially separatist and intended to SHOCK you into a reaction, to instantly feel connected to or repelled by the speaker.
What about slut? Have I really managed to remove the hurtful connotations when I call a friend slut? And since women are taking pride in the “taking back” of the word: what is to stop a lunkhead like Limbaugh from using the term, nationally? There is an attack on women in the political arena now: healthcare, equal opportunity access, child care, and birth control, even career women versus working moms or stay at home moms. (Please note – I see all mums as working mums – some just get a paycheque.)
With the incorporation of these words into a common use, taking them back if you will – have I not allowed those who have zero concept about the ironic nature of usage and the reason that I use the word to be lost when they continue to use it to demean? I have billions of words at my disposal, I don’t need to choose one that will shock, to use ironically, so some moron will overhear and feel it acceptable for him to say.
I am unwilling to provide a disclaimer informing people that my use is ironic and meant to be a reclaim of a word rather than accepting the connotations of the word. I don’t need to make my interactions that complicated; I shouldn’t feel it necessary to ‘explain’ my word choice to anyone.
I also don’t think I’ve reclaimed anything, or removed the power. Someone calls me a name – it hurts, there is no “wondering” about the pain. I do wonder where the thought came from but it still hurts.
I wonder about people who feel free to use these words, and if they give any real thought to the choice. And I have to chuckle at the more “feminazi” among us who wish to rant and rave against Limbaugh using a word, admittedly in a derogatory way, when they haven’t made effort to eliminate the word, but accepted it, taking it back to “reclaim” the glory. When the purpose is to change an outlook and attitude, the best choice is removing the word – not claiming it to wear with a badge of honor.