Whatever Happened To Context?
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Politics and Activism

Whatever Happened To Context?

Why We Should Listen to What People Are Saying, Not Just How They Say It.

Whatever Happened To Context?

I use the word “fag” regularly. If I see a friend on campus, I shout out “Hey, faggot!” When they’re acting cowardly, I say “Dude, don’t be such a fag.” None of these guys are homosexual, and I never once think of the term as being related to homosexuality. The term has been used to mean different things, and among immaturity enthusiasts such as myself, it’s usually used synonymously with the term “douche bag,” “pussy” or “tool.” (I thought the "South Park" episode, “The F Word” closed the book on that one.) It’s even stranger to me that some people apply fag to homosexuality without room for interpretation while defending its censorship, because (how I see it, anyway) that means they see gay people as fags. There’s always going to be exceptions and the strawman rebuttal, but most people I know who call each other fags don’t even think of it in that context.

Now, some people are more sensitive to the word than I am, and I respect that. If someone doesn’t like the word, I try not to use it around them, in the same way that I won’t use “buggy” to refer to a shopping cart around those it bothers (even though it’s my natural inclination). To me, Pepsi is a “pop,” but to those who rage against all that isn’t “soda,” I’ll appropriate their jargon for convenience. When in Rome, and all that jazz. I don’t like that people are so sensitive to a word, but I try to not to be a jerk about it. What I hate is when people tell me not to use the term at all, in any context. They say that it’s used as a hateful term against homosexuals, and they’re right. Back in my hair-straightening, nail-painting and make-up wearing days (No joke. I’ll spare you the pics to prove it, though.), I was called a fag on a near daily basis. I complained about it to my mother one night, and she gave me advice I’ll always follow (even though I’m positive she didn’t mean it this way). “Well, Todd, if you’re going to put yourself out there like that, you’re just going to have to accept that people are going to make fun of you.” To me, that was so profound, because it registered as “If you’re going to do this, you’re gonna have to man up and own it.” If you’re going to take action, you’re going to have to prepare yourself for a reaction, and if it’s worth anything to you, then you’ll have to become stronger than your opposition and all that "Rocky III" bullsh*t. And to clarify, it was never the homosexual accusations that bothered me; it offended me more that people related eccentricity with homosexuality. If anyone had any right to be offended, it was gay people for being compared to me.

Until that point, I never used the word “faggot,” really, in any context. It dawned on me during that time that it has no power over me, or anyone else for that matter. My friends started calling each other fags, and I started referring to those who were the most desperate to project their archetypal masculinity as fags. Not because I thought they were warm for the male form, but because it got under their skin. If someone calls me a fag now, either seriously or in jest, I have to laugh about it. It’s that old phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” (Don’t look too deep for a pun relating to the term faggot being defined as a bundle of sticks in that one.) We can’t live in fear of words that have no power over us. It’s the meaning behind them that we should oppose. Some of the worst bigots I’ve ever met also happen to be the most politically correct. Sometimes, value isn’t in the presentation, but the content. There’s no need to censor or fear words. They’re just Saussure’s signified and signifier. Is everyone on the Internet too young to have seen "Blazing Saddles?" You can use dialect without being hateful (and I’m pretty sure that Mel Brooks isn’t a racist). All I’m saying is that if the word offends you, have you ever thought to ask yourself why? And furthermore, did you ponder how to improve the effect the word has on you? Will banishing it forever help? Or can you learn to live in the real world and make a positive out of a negative? You can’t change your circumstances, but you can change your reaction to them, so why not laugh it off?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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