WORDS MATTER

1 Jan. 2015 I just saw this headline on Yahoo News via Chicago-Sun Times Entertainment on 2 Jan. 2014:

“DEAR ABBY: TEENAGER KNOCKED UP BY FAMILY FRIEND”

I couldn’t believe I actually saw that phrase ‘knocked up’ in print. I thought it must mean something different these days, than what it meant many decades ago, so I clicked it on to make myself current. Nope, it still means somebody got pregnant. It’s a derogatory term used toward women, usually very young women, and usually but not always unmarried women, and almost exclusively used by men and said in a surly, demeaning, degrading way, usually but not always accompanied by ‘dirty’ laughter, meaning a men only joke.

Back in the ’70’s that man would have been called a ‘chauvinist pig’ (I, being an animal-rights activist, object to the word ‘pig’ being used in an insulting way, just as I object to cops being called pigs, or to Joni Ernst, a republican hog castrator from Iowa who won a senate seat, saying she was going to Washington to make them squeal – a reference to the pain of castration and ‘cutting the pork’, meaning removing from the budget, that which republicans deem unnecessary).

This is 2015. Is a man writing the Dear Abby column? I stopped reading these columns decades ago when I found out that the two sisters (Abigail Van Buren and Ann Landers, now dead), who wrote the two columns appearing in newspapers across the nation for decades made up the questions, and that they were written for Jews, instructing them on how to behave when in the company of gentiles (non-Jews) – addressing every imaginable facet of behavior – so Jews wouldn’t be seen as odd – a form of assimilation/integration into American society.

They did this without ever addressing Jews directly as Jews. Although I was very young then, I never agreed with any of their advice, so I don’t know who they were getting their answers to their own questions from. Experts they always claimed.

‘Knocked up’ is inappropriate (just like a ‘bun in the oven’ is inappropriate). It’s not funny. It’s disrespectful to women. It is never said in an endearing way. It’s uncivilized and offensive.

It’s strange how we as a society have become increasingly politically correct in our speech and actions toward any and all minority groups. But for the most discriminated against humans – women – of every race, nation, culture, socio-economic group, religion, political party… that has not happened.

Insult a Jew, a black, a gay, a handicapped person publicly and your career will be ruined. Insult a woman and everybody laughs. It’s not taken seriously. Even raping a woman isn’t taken seriously.

Bill O’Reilly announced on his ‘no-spin’ show the other night that the war on women is over. I guess because he says it’s over, it’s over. The fact that he didn’t ask a panel of women if the war on women is over should be proof enough of his own sexist slant.

Perceived superiority of an individual or group over another individual or group is one of the basis of prejudice. It’s not simply about not liking an individual or group. Anybody is free to like or dislike any individual or group for whatever reason. We all have our preferences. It’s when we discriminate based on a prejudicial mindset of superiority that the war begins.

The war on women will be over when women start fighting back against that which keeps them oppressed. Winning the war against women – on a continuum – is in its infancy.

Half of the human race – women – have and continue to fight for every other groups freedom rights. Where are these same groups when it comes to their freedom rights? Where’s the other half of humankind – men – when it comes to the freedom rights for women?

Start by correcting your own language, regardless of what your prejudicial thought process, no matter what your muscle memory is telling you to say, just because that’s how you’ve always thought and said it.

Stop the repetition of bad language and your brain will get the message. Form new habits of correct, respectful words and those words will create new pathways of correct, respectful actions.

You change the world by changing yourself. The world will take notice.

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