Image Copyright Clare College

WordPlay

As a resident INFP, I think a lot about the nuances and politics of language. We even had the chance to talk about it in relation to sexuality and relationships during our ALF meeting today.

In both of my disciplines, I’m constantly arguing on we structure terms and the implications of those words. For example, we’re very quick to assign terms such as ‘fundamentalism’ or ‘uniformity’ to Islam, while allowing other world religions to have a freer sense of flexibility. Or the fact that you’ll rarely ever hear the word thug used in relation to anyone other than a black man. Or, as we expressed in ALF, the terms surrounding sex – hit it/screw her/nail her/bang her/etc. are pretty violent. And as a victim of sexual assault, that really struck me in a way that I hadn’t completely thought of before.

What does it mean to structure ourselves around a series of implications and stereotypes? Is that something we can explain away just because that’s how society has continued to be? Or is this something that we should change for the better?

I’ll always argue for the latter obviously, but it is notable that to an extent, we don’t consciously understand or actively try to oppose these stereotypes. Not that we’re validating them either, where’s the line between complacency and ignorance? Maybe there isn’t one.

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