Yes, words matter.

Gretchen at Drifting Through has an awesome post today, This Discrimination is Still OK, which I encourage you to read. She discusses the shaming of poor people and what it means to live in deep poverty, with an emphasis on how it affects children. She begins by introducing shaming, then talks about some egregious things a couple of politicians have said about poor people and a response to one of them in Salon. Then we get this:

The things people say when discussing the poor. They harken to Dickensian times. “Lazy. Victims. Takers.” These words are used to dehumanize an entire group of people. These words offer justification and comfort to those who wish to keep the poor exactly where they are. Poor people are fundamentally flawed, in character and morals. They don’t want to have better or to do better. They want a hand out or a hand up or a free ride. They enjoy this lifestyle. If they were motivated and ambitious and resourceful they wouldn’t be in this position. These are the statements that are repeated. They are hollow excuses for disdain. They are the rationalization for judgment. They are the lame attempts to lift oneself higher while stepping callously on the backs of those already crippled with exhaustion. They are the words of bullies.

In my opinion, that absolutely nails a big part of the problem. In a single paragraph we clearly see how derogatory labeling enables dehumanization and sets the stage for bullying. I’ve said this in other places, but never so succinctly. Language matters and here’s why. Language shapes our thoughts, and our thoughts inform our behavior. The next paragraph goes a step further and talks about the importance of empathy.

You know I don’t ask for shares outright, but I’ll say this. Gretchen’s post is one I’d really like to see passed around. 😉

This post really got me thinking, for two reasons:

  • Poverty is one of three social issues I identified months ago as both pressing enough to justify political commentary on a pop culture blog and something I have enough knowledge of to write about. It’s the only one of the three I haven’t gotten around to covering yet.
  • Gretchen’s post makes me think of our Feminist Friday discussions. Aside from a couple of obvious things like her use of shaming to talk about this, and that she’s talking about children while I’m racking my brain on early childhood education, I’m not sure why I feel the two issues are so strongly connected. I’m just working on intuition at this point, but I’ll figure it out.

And speaking of  Feminist Friday, I’ve been torn all week about whether to write the next education post or whether to talk about Feminism as a label again. There are advantages to either. Several people have said re-visiting the label is a good idea, because quite a few people have joined the discussion lately, and it keeps coming up. So I think I’ll do that this week.

Our very first discussion post, Is Feminism Still a Politically Useful Label? was published almost three months ago and we haven’t talked much about the label since. My goal for Friday is to build on that post rather than simply reiterate it in different language. Do stay tuned.

Feminist Friday Discussion Topic: #YesAllWomen

This week’s Feminist Friday discussion will be hosted at Part Time Monster. The topic will be #YesAllWomen and the post will be written by the Monster-In-Chief herself.

I’ve wanted to have one of these at PTM since we started. I’m glad it’s happening for the first time this week. PTM will have a post from a contributor on this topic tomorrow, so be sure to stop by and check it out. If you’re looking for a #YesAllWomen post right this minute, try this one by Gretchen of Drifting Though.

I’m making a minor change to the way I do things this week. Rather than reblog the post early, I’ll run my Follow Friday post first and reblog it after it’s been up for a few hours. Two reasons for this. First, I’m so closely-affiliated with PTM, it doesn’t make sense to reblog this post as soon as it  publishes, because that will put the reblog in the news feeds at the same time as the post. Second, if we have  good discussion going by the time I reblog it, I can talk about the discussion in the comment.

Here’s what we have for the rest of the week:

  • A post from David of Comparative Geeks here tomorrow with summer reading recommendations for Marvel Comics fans.
  • A Tolkien post from me at PTM by week’s end, probably tomorrow afternoon. It’s done except for the art and the editing.
  • At least one real post from me at The Writing Catalog.
  • Probably at least one random music video and one random photo just to round things out (you know me).
  • At some point in the near future, I’m adding a few people to the blogroll and doing a “New to the Blogroll” post. That may have to wait for the weekend, but it’s coming soon.

Happy Wednesday, and have a fabulous rest-of-the-week!

Six weeks of Feminist Friday Discussions: A Reflection

Nine weeks ago I had the idea of using Feminist Friday posts to generate discussions about gender inequality and women’s issues. I was surprised by the interest it generated. We kept these discussions going for six consecutive weeks on three different blogs.

You can find the links to the discussions from the first five weeks here. The sixth week was at Drifting Through My Open Mind.

I like all the threads so far. I find every one of them useful, and I’ve learned things from them, but the first one (on the usefulness of Feminism as a political label) is my favorite. Here’s why.

  • The discussions were just an idea until I published that post, and I did it because other bloggers encouraged me to do it.
  • I expected 15 comments, and the thread ended up with 99.
  • There were lots of people with different perspectives on that thread. Not everyone agreed, but the discussion was productive and civil.
  • The folks who commented didn’t just talk to me about the post. They talked to one another about the questions I raised.
  • It was my first original Feminist Friday post, and it gave me the encouragement I needed to keep writing them.

Here’s why I think the first post worked so well:

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Female Body Image: A #FeministFriday Discussion

The Feminist Friday post is up, and the questions at the end are very good ones. Especially this: “Why does the media and society at large, put much more importance and emphasis on the female body vs the male body?”

Drifting Through

This is the Sixth in our Feminist Friday series, a collaborative effort with Gene’O (@Sourcererblog) and Diana (@parttimemonster) and Natacha Guyot (@natachaguyot) We’ve had some interesting, thoughtful, lively discussions over the last month. To see a roundup of the last five weeks’ discussions, check out Gene’O’s summary here. 

This week I have the honor of hosting our topic and discussion. We will be delving into the issues surrounding female body image. The comment thread is open to any and all who want to participate. If you have thoughts or ideas, please chime in!

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Male Body Image vs Female Body Image

Louis CK is so brave. He is, really. He gets up on stage, he puts himself in front of the tv cameras. He does it even though he doesn’t have the rock hard abs of other actors. He is breaking ground… This sounds ridiculous…

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