Words and their implications

I have a myriad of feelings right now. This is a long story.

For extension English, the area of study I complete my HSC course around is Navigating the Global. It gets us to look at the transformations of ways of thinking, cultures, values, societies etc in a globalising world. We study three core texts and choose three related texts which we then analyse and write essays about.

I’ve been given an assessment to find my related texts and I found a film adaptation of the play “The Normal Heart” made in 2014 after deciding to look through Matt Bomer’s cinematography (naturally). The film depicts the hard battle gay activists in Ney York City fight during the early 1980’s as an epidemic of HIV sweeps through the nation. The film depicts how the activists try to fight for medical rights to look into a disease that is affecting the gay population in America. However, interest into such a pressing matter is shot down because of homophobic concerns, and even after the knowledge that women in Africa contracted HIV heterosexually, nothing gets done. To cut a long story short, a main character and his young lover who dies because of HIV depict the struggle to fight for a basic human right, and the film closes by showing the alarming increase of HIV deaths in a year because of the lack of notice.

The film and extension English actually have very little to do with my point here. They just set the scene.

I was talking to a very close friend of mine, letting out my emotions at the death of Felix and how the reason for so many deaths was because of ignorance and homophobia. Together, we looked at the film plot, discussing the ways in which I could use it for my assessment and then.. And then we got onto the topic of words. And their implications.

These thoughts have been plaguing my mind since I became aware of the vastly colourful language we possess. We live in an open society. Ish. We pride ourselves on the basic right of free speech and not impeding on others freedom. However, on a daily basis, millions forget the implications of their words.

I swear. I admit to it. I’m only human after all. However, there are two curse words I will use and I know the meaning of them. Derogatory language in our society has become so shockingly crude with the language they use. I see and hear these words being muttered on a daily basis, and I’ve reached a limitation to how much I can handle.

The first issue under this issue is words associating to homosexuality. Gay. F****T. Pansy. Everyday without a fail someone will use these words as adjectives to describe their friends. Do they think about the implications? People think its a joke to call someone gay. It isn’t. Gay doesn’t mean happy any more. Oh no. Calling someone gay these days is a huge insult. And frankly, it disgusts me. If you want to be rude to a mate, call them a shit. At least we know that means poo. At least you aren’t showing your ignorance and disrespect. Why do people use sexually discriminatory words to talk to their friends? Where are your manners? If there is one thing I ensure all my friends know about me, it is that I cannot handle and will react to racial or sexually vilifying names. It isn’t right. Until you are a member of a segregated part of society, you will not understand. I’m not a member of a segregated society and I don’t understand the hardships, but at the end of the day, respect, integrity, value; these things are important to maintaining good relationships. Not using words that could have devastating effects on someone.

Moreover, the use of racially discriminatory words. We all know what I’m referring to. The N word. I can and will never be able to bring myself to utter the word, nor do I want to. This especially is an issue with the boys I see around me in our school environment. They don’t understand the social and historical connotations of the word. It was used to describe and dehumanise the African American population. Why do people feel the need to now use it to dehumanise others? The word has such a strong negative connotation. Instead of using the at the time politically correct term ‘Negro’ to describe the African American race, the need was felt to shorten and make the title more crude.

So why? Why do we take pride in calling people such horrific things? I can call someone a shit. Yes it’s rude and yes I know I should not but I know the consequences of doing such. Why do we feel the need to make our already versatile offensive language even bigger? Why do we need to call people crude jargon terms for vagina and penis? We all know what I’m referring to. But why?

This is my issue. Why. Why do we feel the need to do such things. Why can’t the human population sit for a minute and think about the consequences their words can have? Yes in times of frustration we slip. I’ve slipped as well, raging to a friend and calling someone a dick. But on a daily basis, we need to bring back the social convention of the filter. Know who you’re talking to. Know how to treat them with respect. I’ve recently cut ties with a friend who called me the c word. I sound so childish when I put it like that, but the dehumanising power of such a word is immense. Their filter was clearly blurred that when talking to friends in and outside of school, they felt that they didn’t need to concentrate on what they were saying.

So tonight, as I melt away under a fan in the Sydney heat, I ask why. Why do we live in a society where filters have ceased to exist for the pleasure of human kind?

xx Simi

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