(Warning there is going to be some language in this blog that is not meant to offend, but is used in the context of the post. If you have any issued with anything that I’ve said please address them in the comments or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Inspired by the most recent episode of Glee and my upcoming honeymoon to Sicily (Yes be jealous), I thought I would leave you with a post to ponder on language.
For those of you who don’t know my thesis was actually on language. Okay it was actually entitled “The Reclamation of Bitch,” but even though the title might draw you away what I really talked about was how language can actually hinder us in society. (Yes I was a Political Science and Women and Gender Studies major. My thesis is published under my maiden name and was presented before the Women and Gender Studies Symposium at my college.)
Anywhoo, one of the most powerful scenes in Tuesday’s Glee was when Kurt’s father confronted Finn for saying the word “Faggy.” This was a scene that was just SO powerful it brought me to tears. (If you haven’t seen the episode, it’s the Gaga one and you should really Hulu it.) Basically Kurt’s dad talked about the use of the word and how you may use it sparingly with your friends, but what you really mean by it and how you don’t respect the word and it’s supposed to be meant to be hurtful and demeaning.
Which brings me to my next point (that does kind of tie everything together). For those of you who don’t know, my mother is full blooded Sicilian, so I’m half Sicilian (my dad is from West Virginia, so yes I am also proud to be a country girl). My husband and I chose Sicily as our honeymoon spot because of the beautiful views of the Mediterranean, as well as the rich family history that it contains for me. When I talk about my Sicilian background and have talked about things like my Sicilian wedding, people either think it’s really cool or just automatically stereotype.
I remember being in high school and someone would meet my godfather and go, “Oh is he like the godfather from the movie?” or “Is your family in the mafia?” It was annoying, but it really didn’t bother me, that was until the birth of another monster, Jersey Shore. All of a sudden people think it’s okay to use words like “Guido” and “Dago” and let me tell you, IT’S NOT. Calling me a Dago is equivalent to calling a homosexual person a “fag” or a black person a “n----er,” (I won’t even use that word in context, I’m sorry.) It’s a derogatory slang for Italians and just because people use it on some STUPID television show, in which I don’t think the kids are even Italian, doesn’t mean it’s okay for YOU to say it. I keep seeing all of these people having Jersey Shore parties in which girls wear their hair in big poofs and boys wear big cross necklaces and white tank tops (I will not call them “wife beaters” or “dago tees,” do you see why they are called those now? Yeah makes you think twice when you say it doesn’t it?) These parties are NOT okay it just perpetuates harmful stereotypes. You may think, “Oh you know it’s alright me and my buddies are just joking around when we say that.” But do you realize the context of the words when you say them? When you say, “That’s so gay,” You’re really demeaning that word and the whole culture by using stupid in the same context as gay, which really how do you think that makes someone who is homosexual feel? I had someone call me a guido the other day, jokingly of course, but how do you think that made me feel? Just because I’m tan, Sicilian, and style my hair than that gives you the right to use derogatory terms against me? Yeah it’s all fine and dandy when someone is on TV and they’re getting fans for their heritage, but for those of us that are just every day people, we do not appreciate someone talking about their “Dago tee,” and thinking that it’s funny to call their friends a “fag.”
So while I’m sitting with my husband and enjoying my two week honeymoon, the punching bag would like to leave you with some words to fight back with….
When someone uses one of these derogatory words, how will you respond?
“Man that’s so gay.”
“Really and why is it gay? Do you mean that it likes the same sex? How does an object or a situation like the same sex?”
“Dude look at that guido with his Dago tee, that’s so gay.” (Yes I’ve actually heard this one in a bar.)
“Do you know him? Is he of Italian decent? Does he enjoy the company of men?” (Yes I did say that back and the person kind of just took a sip of their drink and looked way…embarrassed.)
Basically just think about the words that you use and how you use them. Don’t be afraid to tell someone if that offends you, because what’s the worse that they can do?
“Oh you don’t like the word ‘gay’ are you ‘gay’ or something?”
“What if I was? Then are you going to stop being my friend?”
Thanks for listening followers (and hey you new follower thanks for joining!) More to come on my phone call with agent/author Mandy Hubbard and pictures of my honeymoon in June!