I am referring to words that were once used by the mainstream to label and make lesser minority groups.
Words that the minority groups now use freely to describe themselves – a taking back the word and diffusing the power by making the word their own and forbidding it to the mainstream for continued use.
Partly because a person who is not part of the subject minority group, cannot be trusted to be using the word in the current descriptive or pride use rather than meaning it discriminatory and getting away with using said word under the cover of the re-claimation and refurbishing that the minority group has done to the word.
It’s an interesting experience to be a minority group member – lesbian – and be in a mainstream and diverse group without identifying yourself or being identified as a minority member and using a word – fag, dyke – and having people cringe and react as if you are being discriminatory and then, when you explain, hey, I am a dyke so I can use the word – to see the relief and relaxation creep in that the word used by a person in one moment is offensive, but after the group identification reveal, the work becomes descriptive.
Never mind that none of the people I spoke to could had any proof that I was a lesbian, other than my word – so it is curious that by using the words fag and dyke, and causing them distress and offense – that they would then accept my claim of being a lesbian and standing down from their offense.
Shouldn’t a person who behaves in a manner deemed offensive perhaps not be so quickly forgive or relieved from being in the hot spot solely on their word of honor that the term was used derogatorily against them?
I have to wonder, are we reclaiming words in order to give this emotional discomfort payback? Our small pound of flesh for having been subjected to the derogatory language?
How do we move on from being a discriminated against minority to just being part of the broader society if we re-purpose words from being slurs into pride terminology – why real pride is there in calling ourselves in affirmation what we were once called in hatred?
It seems more like slamming yourself before the other person gets to and I think it continues to assign us a lower than status.
I have begun to prefer Sapphist to lesbian, dyke or any other word used to denote women who love women – it comes from the pet Sappho and is a source of strength and pride, uncompromised or sullied by hatred and discrimination.
It is not better to define ourselves by our own history and identity than that which was forced in negatively upon us by others?