Ignoring slurs as a method of combatting them

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Ignoring slurs as a method of combatting them

Postby Grimalkin » Sat Jul 06, 2013 11:09 pm

So... I've run into this argument recently, that responding to slurs increases their power, and if nobody responded to and got hurt by slurs people would stop using them and they'd stop hurting. And I'm trying to articulate why, just.. failing.

First off, I know this is some straw vulcan shit because we can't control if slurs hurt us. And we can't just go "Oh, I need to not be offended because that'll make the power worse" because that's minority silencing. And we'd have to magically make all minorities straw vulcans in on this plan for it to work and that's... infeasible.

And it also feels kinda "don't feel the trolls" to me but I feel like there's more to it than that.

Any thoughts more eloquent than mine?
Last edited by Grimalkin on Sun Jul 07, 2013 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby Hedonismbot » Sat Jul 06, 2013 11:13 pm

My opinion on the matter is in two parts-

1: Yes, it is possible for some people to quit giving a shit about things that would otherwise upset them. I've done it a lot. It's made me a much more stable person.

2: Not everyone can. More importantly, not everyone should have to. That should be a personal choice that one makes for their own well-being, not something demanded of one by society.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby Lovely » Sat Jul 06, 2013 11:17 pm

I think my biggest hatred of the "just ignore the words" is the fact that WORDS MEAN THINGS. That's why words exist. To give language to thoughts. And I'm going to damn well respond to those words when they mean hurtful things.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby Grimalkin » Sat Jul 06, 2013 11:57 pm

Lovely wrote:I think my biggest hatred of the "just ignore the words" is the fact that WORDS MEAN THINGS. That's why words exist. To give language to thoughts. And I'm going to damn well respond to those words when they mean hurtful things.


What about when the thoughts behind the words don't involve malice? Or aren't directed at someone? All I've got is that intent isn't magic.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby Onamission5 » Sun Jul 07, 2013 12:00 am

My take: I feel that to allow slurs to go unchallenged is to normalize them. Do I want slurs to be normalized? Fuck no.

It hasn't worked to let trolls run roughshod, all that does is create a troll friendly environment and make the internet hostile for everyone else. It won't work to let slurs go unchallenged either, it just lets the people who use them off the hook for accountability and makes the world a more hostile place for people who are harmed by slurs. See also: rape jokes, sexist and racist diatribe, and the court of bad ideas.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby Lovely » Sun Jul 07, 2013 12:16 am

Grimalkin wrote:
Lovely wrote:I think my biggest hatred of the "just ignore the words" is the fact that WORDS MEAN THINGS. That's why words exist. To give language to thoughts. And I'm going to damn well respond to those words when they mean hurtful things.


What about when the thoughts behind the words don't involve malice? Or aren't directed at someone? All I've got is that intent isn't magic.


And it isn't magic, of course.

But beyond that, words have meanings that most people agree upon to make communication possible.

If the thoughts behind a slur aren't "malicious", it doesn't change the fact that the word already means something bad and using that word continues that whether intended or not.

Using a slur that isn't directed at anyone is still associating a slur with something bad.

They cannot magically divorce a meaning from a word. And if they want to claim they can say "orange" when they're thinking "apple" then they'll have to deal with the consequences of using the word "orange" when they mean "apple".

So for those instances it does boil down to a bit of "intent isn't magic" and perpetuating the use of words that most definitely mean harmful things. They can't complain when others respond accordingly to the words they've chosen to use.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby Sun Countess » Sun Jul 07, 2013 12:17 am

Yes yes yes to both Lovely and Onamission5.

I also believe very strongly that if somebody's intent is pure - i.e. they didn't understand that words mean things and that they can hurt people - then I think that quick education should be effective. "Hey, you know that word serves to remind Group X that they're seen as second class citizens, which is totally untrue and hurtful beside" along with sharing some quick knowledge about the origin of the word. But really, how many people who use the most common slurs have no understanding of their meaning or effect?

If somebody casually uses the N-word to refer to a black person, or the F-word to refer to a gay person, I have a hard time believing they chose to use that word with a completely neutral intent.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby Grimalkin » Sun Jul 07, 2013 12:56 am

Thanks for all the responses. Another thing I've thought of (yeah, I know. Answering my own question) is that if you say "it's up to minorities to not let words hurt them" instead of "it's up to others to not hurt with words" you're a) victim blaming and b) putting the onus on the less privileged to keep themselves away from harm instead of putting the onus on the privileged not to harm. Which is... privileging the privileged.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby Sun Countess » Sun Jul 07, 2013 1:26 am

That's it exactly, Grimalkin.

The words were invented to bother people, to other them, to differentiate marginalized groups from what was considered "normal" and "good." So it's completely unfair to use a word that was specifically designed to harm somebody, and then say, "Well, it's up to that person to not be harmed." That's like saying that somebody shouldn't allow themselves to be hurt when somebody uses any other literal weapon against them. It's not up to the person being shot,stabbed,whatever from being hurt when a weapon is used against them as intended; it's up to the person in possession of the weapon to not hurt people with it.

And of course, when it comes to slurs, the privileged have perma-armor, so they can't be harmed by any equivalent weapon being used against them.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby Kassiane » Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:55 am

If they didn't mean it that way then they can find another word. They're demanding people change their visceral reaction to a word used in hate because "they didn't mean it that way" but meant it that way enough that they can't be assed to think of another word?

No.

Victim blaming bullshit, and as soon as you double down, you are showing htat you actually *did* mean it that way.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby emptyell » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:05 am

On the straw Vulcan side of the argument. This is just bullshit favoring privilege. I assume everyone has noticed that there are no effective slurs describing people of privilege. Slurs are terms specifically designed to pit less privileged groups against one another. And they are very effective at propagating and inciting tribal hatred.

Privileged folks can be all "Oh, just don't let it get to you. It works just fine for us." But that just perpetuates the evil. It is a bit funny though how many privileged types get all outraged at just having their privilege pointed out. Imagine how they would react to actual, effective slurs directed at them. I guess that's the reason for the "reverse racism" nonsense when people are called out for their bigotry.

and...

Onamission5,

Plus 11111111 to your FUCK NO to normalizing hate speech. Not so long ago the N-word was used casually and thoughtlessly. Others even more recently. We DON'T want to go back there! And we still have a LOT of work still to do on the R-word and the T-word.

Of course there are times when it may be inappropriate to make a big fuss but I personally try to err on the side of calling it out whenever possible. Of course my general position of authority makes this much easier.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby SubMor » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:18 am

I've pretty much had it with the "don't let it bother you" nonsense. What complete balderdash. As if people can simply decide what their emotional reactions to a thing can be! Yes, this is not a purely subconscious process, but it's clearly not purely conscious, either, and the "oh don't let it bother you" folks must think they have magical powers. Convincing yourself not to give a shit about something is a process, not a light switch, and there are some things that you simply can't convince yourself of. Hell, isn't that one of the more prominent responses to Pascal's wager? You'd expect atheists to know better, at least, but no, apparently not.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby ceepolk » Sun Jul 07, 2013 6:12 am

take it from emptyell, who can like do spa wraps in gery poupon or something
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby SubMor » Sun Jul 07, 2013 7:15 am

:lol: You can sign me right up for that, have no doubt. :lol:

I notice a distinct lack of follow-through from those people, too. There's that whole is-ought thing, where even if they can come up with a mechanism by which people can change their emotional responses, the "ought" side tends to be nonexistent (or more generously, underwhelming). Not that I'm not a fan of the "you should change your emotional reactions to things just so I don't have to think about or alter my own behavior" argument because, you know, I do love that so much. Best keep those peaches firmly in the cooler so they don't melt.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby smhll » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:01 pm

Letting people hurt you until it stops hurting is a pretty ridiculous strategy. Many other potential strategies would be better.

I'm fantasizing about having technology that bleeps out all slurs (by muting them) and gradually turns down the volume of the signal from anyone who frequently uses ridiculous arguments until the voices of repeat offenders sound a lot like whispers.

I'd like to live in a world where I could tune "you" out. Would you like it?
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby emptyell » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:56 pm

SubMor wrote::lol: You can sign me right up for that, have no doubt. :lol:


Would you like that before or after the Godiva mud bath? Let me know what works for you and I'll send the helicopter.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby SubMor » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:03 pm

Before, preferably. Of the two smells, I'd rather have the Godiva linger throughout most of my day. Can you make sure you get one of the secret government black helicopters sent around? Last time, it was a wholly mundane one, and my neighbors complained terribly about the disturbance. Since I haven't yet procured new neighbors, this approach might be best.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby emptyell » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:12 pm

SubMor wrote:Before, preferably. Of the two smells, I'd rather have the Godiva linger throughout most of my day. Can you make sure you get one of the secret government black helicopters sent around? Last time, it was a wholly mundane one, and my neighbors complained terribly about the disturbance. Since I haven't yet procured new neighbors, this approach might be best.


Oh, we use silent, stealth models only (Roswell/Area 51 tech). You'll get a telepathic message letting you know when it's arrived. I'm not sure I can get the Illuminati. Would the Builderburg be OK? The steam room is getting a bit tired on that one.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combating them

Postby SubMor » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:46 pm

On such short notice, I don't see that I have any real choice, do I? Have no doubt, I will be filing a grievance with you-know-who over this unbecoming setback, but I will be sure to word it in such a way that it doesn't reflect poorly on you as an individual.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combatting them

Postby Grimalkin » Sun Jul 07, 2013 11:55 pm

So new development/question.

What if you accept all of the arguments above, but you're hesitant to say that words have intrinsic power... because you were bullied and the way you dealt with that is deciding words don't have intrinsic meanings, and getting rid of that belief gets rid of something that protected you, and so you're hesitant to do so?

Not asking for why this is wrong, because... I don't think it is. Just curious as to your thoughts.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combatting them

Postby emptyell » Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:15 am

Grimalkin wrote:So new development/question.

What if you accept all of the arguments above, but you're hesitant to say that words have intrinsic power... because you were bullied and the way you dealt with that is deciding words don't have intrinsic meanings, and getting rid of that belief gets rid of something that protected you, and so you're hesitant to do so?

Not asking for why this is wrong, because... I don't think it is. Just curious as to your thoughts.

TW:Bullying, victim-blaming [ Show ]
All words do is express and communicate meanings. They have no intrinsic power. They have only as much power as people give them. Denying such power to bullies by not letting them get to you makes sense. Granting it to bigots by ignoring casual bigotry does not.
Last edited by ischemgeek on Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: hiddentexting triggery stuff
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combatting them

Postby SubMor » Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:00 am

TW: bullying, victim-blaming [ Show ]
emptyell wrote:[Words] have only as much power as people give them.

On the aggregate, yes. A sole individual cannot unilaterally change the meaning of a word, though, and it's not like rejecting someone else's use of your identity label as a pejorative changes the fact that such a person is trying to do psychological harm to you.
TW: bullying, victim-blaming [ Show ]
emptyell wrote:Denying such power to bullies by not letting them get to you makes sense.

This, however, presupposes that we have a choice in the matter. There may well be ways to successfully not let bullies "get to you," but if the only advice someone has is basically "sticks and stones," that's remarkably unhelpful.

Additionally, I'm not sure it's appropriate to differentiate between bullies and casual bigots along those lines. It seems rather minimizing of a serious problem that's already regularly minimized (instead of "harassment" or "assault," we call it "bullying?" dafuq?).
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combatting them

Postby Lovely » Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:18 am

TW: Bullying

I think a lot of people come up with ways of coping with being bullied, and if one of those ways that has worked for an individual person is to somehow to disengage an emotional reaction from being called slurs, then I don't necessarily want to take away that individual defense from them. I'm saying this, because I know all too well how ineffectual anti-bullying crap is. How ineffectual adults and authorities can be when it comes to bullying. How helpless and alone one can feel. And so if some small measure actually helps that individual get through the day, then I deeply understand that.

But it doesn't stop the meaning of the word, it doesn't stop the bullying nature of the word, and it sure as heck doesn't mean that's the way everyone has to feel about it.

If anything, it's an individual stopgap measure. The cure would be to cease the bullying, to cease the use of the hurtful slur/actions by the bully.

To create a shield between oneself and a slur is a survival tactic. One that should not have to be taken, but that is often necessary for some people. But we cannot apply that band-aid to all people.

TLDR- Those who've been bullied gotta do what they gotta do. But forcing that non-solution onto others (telling me to get over it because they have, or telling me that words don't have meanings) is victim-blaming and perpetuates the problem.

Edited for a little clarity.
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combatting them

Postby ischemgeek » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:17 am

Emptyell, was this:

bullying, victim-blaming [ Show ]
All words do is express and communicate meanings. They have no intrinsic power. They have only as much power as people give them. Denying such power to bullies by not letting them get to you makes sense. Granting it to bigots by ignoring casual bigotry does not.


an attempt to communicate what the straw-vulcan types are probably thinking in a tongue-in-cheek manner, or was it your own thoughts on the subject?

That matters because the post above was triggering to me, and I'd like to know whether you actually meant it, or whether you meant it in a tongue-in-cheek manner, since that decides how I'll respond in thread to it.

Moderator notice

Also, I'll be hiddentexting that post and all quotes of it, since if I was triggered by it, others might be, too
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Re: Ignoring slurs as a method of combatting them

Postby emptyell » Mon Jul 08, 2013 1:32 pm

ischemgeek wrote:Emptyell, was this:

bullying, victim-blaming [ Show ]
All words do is express and communicate meanings. They have no intrinsic power. They have only as much power as people give them. Denying such power to bullies by not letting them get to you makes sense. Granting it to bigots by ignoring casual bigotry does not.


an attempt to communicate what the straw-vulcan types are probably thinking in a tongue-in-cheek manner, or was it your own thoughts on the subject?

That matters because the post above was triggering to me, and I'd like to know whether you actually meant it, or whether you meant it in a tongue-in-cheek manner, since that decides how I'll respond in thread to it.

Moderator notice

Also, I'll be hiddentexting that post and all quotes of it, since if I was triggered by it, others might be, too


I was attempting to parse Grim's point of view and means of coping within the larger context. I may have been too brief and/or cryptic. I'm sorry to have triggered you.

I do believe words have only the power we give them individually and collectively. This seems almost tautological unless one believes in the power of incantations and spells. There is a big difference in how one lets words affect one personally and how they influence social and cultural norms as well as lots of complex interactions between these two. Perhaps this is too large a subject to safely address in short form.
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