Words and the Sub-Text of Our Culture


This article uses explicit language. All the same I hope you would let your kids read it anyway.

It is generally accepted that when you start practicing yoga there are certain life changes that happen naturally. For most it starts with a change in diet, then a change in life style, eventually a change of the whole being. Still the more you practice the more things that seem to change, either in your reactions to life, or your awareness. Currently I have been drawn to language and communication, in particular the way in which our speech affects our culture and society around us.

Last week I had a moment of clarity. Sunday night my boyfriend and I had dinner with my parents, on the way home we got into a debate regarding Superman and Batman. He had an outburst regarding Batman that resulted in the following comment, “he’s a bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch”. I was taken aback by this statement, but at the time thought it was just due to the passion of the debate.

Later that night, we had a friend over who is infamous for using the word gay to describe things that were undesirable to him. We have all at one point or another addressed him; but he has always used the excuse that, “it is just a word, and should not be taken so seriously”.

Later, while I was trying to meditate, I could not seem to let the two above facts go. Something in me was crying out for an explanation and at least an acknowledge of offense. Eventually I just let my mind workout the details, I was never going to get any meditation done while this was worrying me. I came to the below conclusions.

Any time you use a word that has been used to describe a group of people in a degrading manor it is offensive. It does not matter how far you are removed in the situation, if the group of people includes you, or if it is socially the norm or accepted. It is not about being politically correct, or overly sensitive to the people around you, it purely has to do with the overwhelming sub-conscience that you are creating and perpetuating in society.

Let me sight two quotes from media sources to further my point.

“What’s the worst possible thing you can call a woman? Don’t hold back, now.
You’re probably thinking of words like slut, whore, bitch, cunt (I told you not to hold back!), skank.
Okay, now, what are the worst things you can call a guy? Fag, girl, bitch, pussy. I’ve even heard the term “mangina.”
Notice anything? The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. Now tell me that’s not royally fucked up.”

Jessica Valenti points out in her book Full Frontal Feminism, no matter your socio-economic background, in our culture the worst insult across the board is being called a female. If you think that has no effect on the female brain in our culture, try being told for your entire life, by everyone you know, that the lowest they can fall is being you. Then tell me that it does not have a profound physiological effect on you.

Then of course there is Macklemore’s song Same Love,

“If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ’em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!

Again even if you think it is just a word or ‘harmless’ there is a sub-text being written in our culture teaching us that certain groups of people are less then others.

Of course these are not the only examples of words. There are also words that our culture has weighted, to the point where there is a political correctness that goes along with them. Nigger, Fag, Dyke, Kike, Sand Nigger, Japs, Wet Backs, the list of awful things that we call each other is seemingly never ending. The only difference between these words and the examples above have to do with the amount of weight our culture gives them.

I ask you, does it make a difference if we have seen the error of our ways with some words and socially outlawed them; but fail to recognize the impact of others? Take some thought on your own life and the words that you use, or used, and how over your lifetime they have been deemed acceptable or unacceptable. Just in my life span alone I have known two particular words, gay and retarded.

And I am not perfect either. I have often used the words dick and bastard to express my anger, or even to joke around with my friends. These words are no better. I challenge myself every time I speak to not use words in a discriminating fashion. That is not to say I do not express frustration or anger when they happen, or even that I do not cuss altogether. However I am tailoring my cuss words to change the sub-text I am writing for my own culture.

We decide what we want our society to be. We can either feed into the negative media fostering that women who fight for equal rights are “femma-NATZIS”, that people who fight for homosexual rights are immoral or closet gays themselves, that people whom point out the continued exitance of racism are paranoid; or we can rise above it and chose to just love each other. We can decide to rewrite the sub-text of our culture and let people make the choices in their lives free from implanted ideas from hundreds of years ago. We can chose to stop writing a negative sub-text by not participating.

Practice in peace, love, and awareness ❤

About 8petallotus

Here are the thoughts that hit me after everything is done and quiet, capturing the few moments of enlightenment between the grind and giving it a place to inspire. A place for yoga and divine inspiration.
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