On Abelist Language and Feministing

With all of the discussions about language and breast cancer ads yesterday, I want to just reiterate how

Poster in my classroom urging students not to use "That's so gay!"

Poster in my classroom urging students not to use "That's so gay!"

important language is in our society.  Really, it’s all we have when we relate to each other, especially when all of our communications are online and completely centered around words.  If we make writing our trade, even if we just blog as a part-time thing, we need to watch our language.  And as someone interested in literacy practices and language in this feminist community, it disturbs me to see abelist language in popular community sites like Feministing.com.

The Open Letter to Feministing on this ain’t livin’ has drawn attention to this important issue, and you should all read it and cosign it.  Consider me cosigned.

And this goes for all abelist language.  This is my big deal in my classroom: I don’t want my students using phrases like “That’s so gay!” or “That’s retarded.”  I have very personal reasons behind those two, but I believe it is my job as a teacher to promote tolerance, especially in language, by explaining to them why these phrases and ones like them are offensive and why we shouldn’t use them.

So, please, be a good example.  Cosign the letter and don’t use that kind of language.  Please.

8 thoughts on “On Abelist Language and Feministing

  1. This is so important to show how our everyday language affects larger causes. I definitely try to do this myself and have asked others to both help catch me when I’m using termed language and to watch their own in their everyday use. It’s amazing how many little ways it sneaks in without even being aware.

    • Ashley on

      It is so important, isn’t it? And I think it’s especially important to start educating young people about their use of language. It isn’t just enough to be a good role model; you need to let them know what they’re doing, too.

  2. “Wacky” to many people is a term used for people with mental illness, in a derogatory way, so maybe that could have been the ableist term the other person was talking about. I am just glad “crazy,” “insane,” or “demented” are not on there. I love this poster and think it is a great idea. Truthfully, many of us can get offended by any number of terms based on how it was used in our community so there is a good chance that no matter how hard we try not to make it exclusionary, it might be to a few people. If we keep the conversations going like this I think we will make a difference though.

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