AI: Reclaiming Words
There are certain words you would think twice about before saying. Words that everyone knows are ‘bad’ words, and rightly so, as they have been used to marginalise, ridicule and hurt any minority group you can think of. Words that I’m sure you will all agree should not be taken lightly when used against anyone.
And yet, it seems like more and more, words are being reclaimed by the very groups they are intended to marginalise. The idea is that by using these words in a positive light, as a way of affirmation, it diffuses and disarms the impact of those words. The recent SlutWalk rallies would be the most recent example of this attempt, although it was argued that while that was one aspect of the rally, their main point was to take the onus away from the victims of rape, and placing it where it rightly belongs, on the perpetrators themselves.
While many embrace the reclamation of words, there are some who don’t see it as very empowering. A comment made in a post I was reading on this subject (the commenter’s name is Stina and can be found a few posts down) throws light on some of the problems arising from the perceived reclamation of words without thought to their context and intent. I believe that it is those two things that should be thought about first when using such words. Many people within a friend group or tightly-knit community may be comfortable with using a particular word around each other for the purposes of reclamation, but that does not mean that everyone who could be affected by that same word would think the same way, or would be affected the same way. Which is why I think thinking twice about a word just may not be enough.
What do you think about reclaiming words? Is it always productive to do so? Is there a word you have reclaimed for yourself and/or your peers?
The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 3pm ET.