Words hurt — but only if you let them. I’m a staunch believer of the playground wisdom, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” to this day. Yet it is undeniable that words are powerful. One of my favorite pieces I wrote ‘Don’t Be A Pussy’ was about the harmful effects of the ubiquity of misogynistic, negative slang phrases. My rant is easily extendable to abating words like Slut, Whore and ‘Ho from our vocab because, while used obviously derogatorily, they are more dangerously ubiquitous. When we are so familiar with a thing that we no longer see it, hear it, or are aware of its true meaning anymore, is when it has an insidious power to do its deepest damage to our individual psyches, our collective culture — because this negative slam-slang is just accepted as a fact or a truism. But I am a Big Picture seer: when female power and the word “vagina” are cute-isized and made non-threatening as hoochie, vajayjay, and other dumbed down terms, it’s hard to avoid recognizing a pattern of misogyny and the fear of female power still runs deeply in our society, culture, and most of the world at large even in the 21st century. Hillary Clinton at this year’s TED Women’s Conference on The Empowerment of Women & Girls: “We need to reach out to faith leaders and community leaders to change the perception and treatment of girls, and to persuade men and boys to value their sisters and their daughters, their talents and their intrinsic worth.”Words are powerful. As I say at my zen pop culture blog, “Use your power for good” by: 1) Knowing who you are; 2) don’t give fear of other’s opinions (just words) of you the power to paralyze or stunt you; and 3) shed a light on or speak out against ignorance whenever you hear it as a “that’s how everyone talks”-ism. No it isn’t.
How do you feel about words like “bitch” and “’ho” used interchangeably for “women” or “girls”? Do you talk about this with your daughters? — BadWitch
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