Saturday, March 27, 2021
Weekend Onesie: Keep Clean
Language is an exacting thing. As a tool of communication it can be wielded in many ways. To educate. To praise. To show intent. To soothe.
And to hurt.
On occasion we will find ourselves using certain words to communicate one thing, only to realize that we've missed the boat; we've chosen words that fail to convey what we'd intended. Or, on occasion, we will simply use the wrong word. Harmless enough, easy to fix. Someone points it out, we blush, fix it and tell ourselves we can do better.
The thing about words is they can take on different meanings, depending upon context.
How many times have we heard someone say, 'Yes, I said that, but you've taken my words out of context'?
The environment a word resides in, be it physical (a blog, a television interview, etc.) or in relation to the words around it, can cause a rather common word to take on a whole new meaning.
On dating/hook up sites, like Grindr, one creates a profile, using words to describe who they are and what they seek. It's a marketing tool, of sorts; one's opportunity to get to the meat and potatoes of why you're there, what is it you want.
Due to an apps constraints and keeping in mind the average person's attention span, one must be succinct when writing this sort of thing.
Some are clever. But they are few and far between. Some overshare (guilty). Some are blank (always an interesting, but not very effective choice).
And some display an ignorance worthy of a member of the Republican Party.
Yes... I have a bone to pick.
It's something that continues to bother me every time I see it. Perhaps it's unintentional. Maybe they're short on space, or believe it's a form of acceptable shorthand. But in this day and age? I can't help but think it's intentional.
See, certain people continue to use the term 'clean', when what they really mean to say is 'disease-free'.
People with HIV are not 'unclean'. And make no mistake - that is what is being inferred.
I grimace every time I come upon it. And, while I would love to be that person who can look the other way and say 'to each their own'... I can't.
More and more, I say something.
It's not like I'm risking anything. The likelihood that I would be interested in hooking up with or want to have a conversation with someone who uses that word in that way? Zip. So they block me? Good. It frees up one of those little squares, so I can see more profiles for free.
And yes, it is confrontational. It is sticking my nose where some would say it doesn't belong.
Or is it?
How else do we enact change? How else do we help others evolve? How do we get others to see? How do we educate?
Some will say a hook-up site is hardly the place to educate people. But it is where people live. So why isn't it fair game?
Confrontation is difficult, especially if one is being critical of someone else. It's painful work. But it has to be done.
Ignorance exists in our society on such a wide scale. Chipping away at it?
No small task.
It's actually a number of small tasks.
It's many, many, many small tasks.
It's those who are woke tapping on the shoulders of those who need to be informed. Yes, it's invasive. It is sticking our nose in other people's business. But our nose and theirs? By nature, they have to occupy the same space; one that should be free of hurtful, hateful rhetoric.
"Well, this seems like a weird thing to focus on. So particular. So minor. I mean, racism and sexism and..."
Minor? Yes. But remember, ignorance is huge. You're never going to have an opportunity to blow the whole thing to smithereens. If that was possible it would have been done by now.
No, we have to chip away at it. Small tasks.
And it is our responsibility. All of us. If we want a better world, we have to do our part. Our small task.
Is it offensive to point out something offensive? I realize it could be. One's approach will dictate your outcome/success. If you barge in and simply start pointing fingers, people aren't going to listen to you. Still, you may not have much of an opportunity to state your case, so best do so succinctly.
When pointing out how offensive the term 'clean' can be, I typically type and send this: "Your use of the word clean is offensive. If you mean disease-free, say that. People with HIV are not 'unclean'. Educate yourself. Evolve. Ignorance is never sexy."
Yep. Pushy and presumptuous, huh?
But then, I only have the one shot at getting my point across. This person? They are going to simply block me. Which is great. Saves me the effort.
This is one small way that I have chosen to chip away at the gigantic wall of ignorance we deal with every day as participating members of society. But it's not the only one...
Last week, I wrote about beauty and how we all need to confront our blind spots when it comes to what we deem acceptable. I used to have a problem with less than worked-out bodies parading around in kilts at Gay Pride. I got over it. I see it for what it is... a form of self-expression, and that? I support.
By acknowledging my blind spot, I inadvertently opened myself up to a whole new world to appreciate. Big bellies are sexy. Especially with fur. That's now a preference (one of many) on my part.
Keep in mind, I respect that people have preferences - which opens us up to the whole argument of where one draws the line between objectification and preference... and discrimination.
We'll save that for another post.
This one? This is about activism - as in chipping away at ignorance.
After I wrote about kilts and beauty and blind spots, I realized that blind spots are a kind of ignorance. So I had to take a look at my world and look to see whether I was supporting anything that could be construed as ignorant. I don't want to be a hypocrite.
Above all else, remain true to yourself.
And my truth? It lives here.
Blogging is all about personal preference. We write about things that interest us, share images that inspire or entertain us. It's very individualistic.
It's also part of the social network, so with it comes a kind of responsibility as well.
Our opinions are our own. We share them and, typically, likeminded individuals may read and comment on them. As a part of this social network, we are also given the opportunity (and responsibility) to promote sites we enjoy or believe worthwhile on the sidebar of our blogs. In this way we support one another. This type of promotion can be viewed as our 'seal of approval'.
For the past year, I have struggled with myself regarding some of the sites I have been supporting. These sites only offer a very narrow idea of what is to be considered attractive or beautiful; ideas which adhere very closely to that dictated by Madison Avenue and the media. It bores me. But it's also somewhat offensive. There's an implied undercurrent of racism, body shaming, and ageism I can no longer support in any way.
You know me. If I visit a site, I comment. And I would. Frequently veiled attempts to call attention to these particular bloggers' blind spots. But that's not chipping away at anything. That's not speaking my truth.
Clearly, these bloggers are successful. They have tons of followers and have taken their brand to a number of other social media platforms. So my support? Participation? It will hardly be missed.
It feels a bit judgmental on my part, but then to continue promoting and supporting such sites would be hypocritical of me.
I need to live with myself.
Celebrating diversity is really important to me.
Does everything need to be diverse?
Well, that question prompts one of my own... why not? Why wouldn't it be?
Unless you're choosing not to be...
No longer supporting sites that narrowly define what is sexy is a form of activism. It is a small thing one can do to chip away at ignorance.
Discussing this, I realize I open myself to criticism, for I, admittedly, have blind spots. No, I'm not aware of them all, yet, but I do own them. I am working on them.
To not do so feeds ignorance.
And ignorance feeds hate.
And I can't support that anymore.
And now that I've said all that?
I feel 'clean'.
Never Tear Us Apart - Paloma Faith