by KAI GUI
swear, I’m not THAT awkward. It just so happens that for an hour a day, I completely forget how to speak. You’d think that after fifteen years with the language, I’d be comfortable enough throwing out a few comments and racking up those coveted AP English participation points. Instead, I’m 10 minutes behind the flow of conversation. Especially when discussing sensitive topics like racism
and sexism, I find myself excessively cautious to not offend anybody. The obvious solution would be to stop being such an ignorant prick, but the fact of the matter is that potentially offensive language is deeply ingrained in our vernacular. Take gendered language for example. We say “man up” to discourage others from backing down. We say “you guys” when referring to a not-exclusively-male group of friends. These are such common phrases that we may not give them a second thought, but they clearly define men as the primary gender. Furthermore, in language, “feminine” has become synonymous with “weak.” People “hit like girls” and so on. The result being, according to countless internet bloggers, implicitly misogynistic language reinforcing already skewed societal views on gender. In a similar fashion, we use implicitly racist language in common phrases like “no can do” or “long
time no see.” They have roots in Chinese Pidgin English, a dialect originally intended to coordinate business between Chinese and western traders. It seems ridiculous that a language designed for cooperation could possibly be racist. People are working together. Utopia, rainbows, flowers and stuff. Somewhat unsurprisingly however, people found a way to disrupt the peace. Pidgin devolved into caricatures and America had that one “really-racist” era. I haven’t read them myself, but Harvard doctoral candidate Devin Fitzgerald quotes the once popular works “Pidgin-English Sing-Song” and “A Chanson for Canton” as evidence that a “really-racist” era did, in fact, occur. (Devin Fitzgerald writes more on this topic online in The Ultimate History Project) I don’t usually intend to disregard entire cultures or assert my male dominance in my speech, but even if I don’t intend it, people can still
find it inappropriate and offensive. Of course people find just about everything offensive these days, and one could argue that the language we use isn’t a big deal. After all, as office manager and world’s best boss Ricky Gervais once ranted on Twitter, “Just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right...” It is a big deal, however, because the language we use influences society’s views. By cutting another one of these phrases from our vocabulary, we’ll be phasing out another stereotype. Nowadays, I try to be a bit more sensitive towards the words I use, but I still face a challenge I’m extremely ignorant when it comes to word origins. I probably insult countless cultures and peoples on a day to day basis. Becoming learned, however, requires dedication, and I’m pretty lazy. It’s infinitely easier simply not speaking. After all, participation only makes up, like, 10 percent of my grade.
FEMINISTS ARE CRAZY Note: this is a very satirical piece and is not to be taken seriously.
by sHARON XIANG email@example.com
he word feminist often times conjures up images of a misandrist who complains about how it sucks to be a woman and who likes to burn stuff while laughing maniacally. This is all very true, and as a feminist, I find it my obligation to confirm some common myths PHOTOS BY KELSEY KERANEN DESIGN BY KELSEY KERANEN
about feminism for those who are wondering if they are a feminist. Feminists hate men: Yes, despite the fact that the definition of feminism is the belief in equality of all genders, feminists are just too disagreeable to understand that “all genders” includes men. Thus they exclude males from being feminists. Feminists believe that men have screwed up the world, and it is up to women to fix men’s mistakes. Feminists can’t be men: Feminism is an elite club only for unattractive lesbians - men aren’t allowed in. According to patriarchal rules, men can’t show emotion, thus they are basically brainless robots and don’t have to capacity to believe in issues such as feminism. Feminists want to take power away from men: Feminists do want to take away power from men so they can rule
the world and truly become “feminazis,” while objectifying men (it might be just me, but I’ve never heard of women being objecti-
“Men are supposed to be the breadwinners and women are supposed to stay at home.” fied.) Feminists want to have the same rights as men, which definitely translates into taking power away from them. Feminists want women to earn as much as men for the same job; this means that women will take money away from men— which is not okay. Men are supposed to be breadwinners
and women are supposed to stay at home or spend their days at the mall. Feminists are all unattractive lesbians: Feminists hate men, so why would they agree to be in relationships with males? Some famous feminists are Emma Watson, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Halle Berry. These women are perfect examples of feminists who are deemed unattractive by society and are suspected by many to be lesbian. There are absolutely no feminists out there that are married to men, and if there are, they are not true feminists. Feminists are irrational: According to male rights activists, feminists want to see men as patriarchal oppressors and women as innocent victims. I hoped I have aided those in deciding whether or not they are feminists.
wsspaper.com october 2014 opinion 43