Sunday, 17 November 2013

Why Do You Call Your Friends Derogatory Names?

Pink Protea

Dear ladies out there,

I would love to know why you would call your friends (who I'm assuming you love and respect) names like "bitch", "slut", "ho", "bint" or any other number of degrading words that I see when I log onto my facebook account? I would also like to know why you let your friends call you these names?

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I would be mortified to call my lady friends those names and I would hate it if they called me those names. 

I've always been bothered when I've heard any women referring to their friends in such a derogatory manner. "It's only a word," you may think. But that's where you're wrong, they are so much more than just words. No matter how much you think it's only a word, all words have certain connotations that are linked to them, especially words like the ones above.

Let's dive a little bit deeper into this. If you really don't believe me, I'm going to list a few words and I want you to think of what that word means to you in your life.








I hope you took a few minutes to get a few images in your head that are associated with those words. Here's what I associate with them:

I see myself and my little sister sitting at our Goko's dining room table, unable to stop laughing and unable to tell her what we find so funny. I see myself and a friend at a leadership camp, sitting behind a little old lady who had fallen asleep during presentations. Every snore brought forth another fit of giggles that we had to contain so that we didn't disturb the group that were presenting on stage. I see little kids, playing wildly, heads together laughing at some secret, inside joke.

I associate friendship to the faces and actions of my friends through my life stages. The ones from junior school who knew me when I had a sister and who comforted me when she passed away. I see the faces of my high school friends, who became like sisters to me. We shared our secrets, excitement over boys, tea and coffee on my veranda while they bunked out for an afternoon. I think of the boys I studied with at varsity, the late night study sessions before difficult exams where my notes would be photocopied by at least half the group and the way they would apologise to me when they swore because I was the only girl in the group. I see the friends who I don't speak to very often, but who will always hold a special place in my heart. I see the people who I work with, who have shared in the frustrating times and the victories with me.

Imagine sunsets where the sky gets painted a thousand different colours during the change from day to night. Sunrises when you've been pulled out of bed to get an early start to a long day. Inspirational photographs, paintings, art and stories that are all around us. A bride on her wedding day. A look of love that passes between a couple, full of secret meanings and memories. 

I think of my mum and how she's set an example for me. I think of the rest of my female family members and how each of them have helped to shape me into who I am today. I think of the strength and grace that accompanies a woman who has been through a tough time. I wonder what type of women the young girls I know today will grow into.

The ladies that I know are always full of support and comfort and wise words and fun activities. They have grace and love to laugh. They embrace others in their lives. They call their friends beautiful names and make sure that they tell those around them how incredible they are.

I think of a woman who will sleep with anyone. Someone who dresses like a prostitute. I imagine a person who is unsure of her own value. In my mind, she is someone who seeks comfort in physical closeness without emotional attachment. A person out to have a good time on an extremely superficial level.

I think of women who don't have anything nice to say about anyone. Who can't understand why drama follows them around. Women who seek to make sure that those around them are miserable. A negative person who wants to drag others further down than herself so that she can feel superior. Someone who manipulates others and leaves people with a sour taste in their mouth after they've left.

The first 5 words on my list all have more or less positive connotations for me. I'm willing to bet that they have more or less positive connotations for you, the reader, as well. Those words leave me feeling happy. If any of those first 6 words were used in relation with me, I would be completely comfortable with that. It would make me feel close to my friends and make me feel loved and cherished.

Now, lets move on to the last 2 words. If anyone were to link me to these 2 words, I would feel ashamed and degraded. There's no way I would lift my head proudly or walk tall. And if I used these word to describe my friends, even if it was just in jest, I would feel terrible and I'm sure they would too.
I know that a lot of people use these derogatory words to describe their friends or group in a joking way, but I really can't see how those words are meant to show your friends that you love them and care for them.

My plea is that the next time you think of using insulting words to address your friends (or your friends use insulting words to address you), you stop and think of the actual meaning of these words and what connotations they could bring up in the minds of others and instead try to find a more positive alternative. It may not make a huge difference in your life, but maybe it will...

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