During the course of my life (and doing this blog in particular) I’ve learned a lot about people and how sensitive they can be about certain things. The usual cause of most miscommunication comes from words, both written or spoken.
I’ve always been of the belief that words have no meaning unless the person using them and the one hearing them agree on what’s being said. For instance, if an alien came down from the sky and I pointed at a piece of debris on the ground and said “rock.” I know what I meant when I uttered that word, but what if he/she had a word in their language that sounded like “rock” but meant something totally different?
What we’d have there is a failure to communicate.
The same line of thinking has often been applied to the N-word. Some feel the meaning changes to a term of endearment when the “er” suffix is replaced with an “a.” I’ve always looked at it from a perspective of intent. While I personally refrain from using either variation of the word as much as possible in my everyday speak (save for quoting a song lyric or in moments of excitement/anger) I look at the intention of the person using it and how it happens to strike my ear at the moment.
I once had a co-worker of the Caucasian persuasion that had been known to use it from time to time. He and I were cool and he grew up in a Black neighborhood as the only White kid and his Black friends used it frequently in his presence and to describe him. With that knowledge, anytime he said it around me I knew he didn’t mean it with any malice or with malicious intent. We both agreed on the definition being that of a hip-hop term used in endearment.
When it comes to the N-word people will often have to agree to disagree on its usage and how offensive it is. Today, however, I want to bring up a few terms that I initially didn’t view as being offensive, either due to my own ignorance or just not being that sensitive about its usage.
About two years ago I decided to show love to the plus-size sisters by doing an “Ode to the Big Girl.” However, my good intentions were quickly derailed when I made the mistake of using the term “chubby chaser” in the opening sentence. Four comments in I was quickly scolded for using such an offensive phrase. I honestly had no clue that it would be taken that way, but other than here for the sake of today’s post, I haven’t used it since.
Blame my mama for teaching me manners, but I was raised to say, “Yes, sir” and “Yes, ma’am.” While the first is widely accepted, I’ve come across plenty of women who always have something to say when I refer to them as ma’am—whether it be in tweet, email or conversation. The usual retort is, “I’m not an old lady, don’t call me ma’am.” My intention when using the term is to show respect, but clearly a lot of people have their own hang-ups about the word and misinterpret my intention. It’s one of my things and I probably won’t stop saying ma’am any time soon. #DealWithIt
I forget which post it was but earlier this year someone made a point to leave a comment saying how my usage of the word “female” in reference to a woman rubbed them the wrong way. She tried to argue that it sounded like I was talking about an animal and that I probably wouldn’t say “male” in reference to a man. Actually, I use male just as much. In fact, just last week I referred to the fragile male ego in the erectile dysfunction post. Males and females are just what we are. Trust, there are a lot worse terms I could throw out to describe a woman.
If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you’ll know that I’ve used the term MILF on more than one occasion. But I actually lost a FaceBook friend because she felt my annual MILF Awards was a disrespectful list of women I’d like to fuck. While I know the roots of the acronym (Mother I’d Like to Fuck), I never really think of those exact words when I use it. In my mind MILF just means an attractive woman that just so happens to be a mother. I see it as a positive, but some take it as a negative. #KanyeShrug
I’ll call complete ignorance on this one, as I thought it was totally alright to call someone of mixed race/heritage/race a “mulatto.” However, when I used the term to describe a certain singer in one of my freelance pieces for TheBVX a while back, my editor quickly hit me back and said, “Uhm, you know ‘mulatto’ is a derogatory term, right?” Whoops! I had no idea it basically translated to mean “mule.” Them, of course I read THIS article on Parlour Magazine the other day and have stopped using the term. Well, except for its inclusion in this list.
Given the lack of actual wives in our community I understand why some women are turned off by the term “wifey,” which, depending on the man and the nature of the relationship, is basically a play wife. I’ve even suggested that more women aspire to be someone’s wife over baby mama, but at the same time I’m totally open to using wifey to describe my main squeeze. In my circle of friends it’s interchangeable with girlfriend and is completely harmless. Still, I’ve come across women that feel offended by adding a “y” to wife. Now, if a man was only offering a faux-title after several years of dating without a lifelong commitment I could understand the dispute, but as long as the couple is cool with their designation for each other to each his/her own.
Do you find any of the words on this list offensive? If so, which one and why? Which term do you find the most surprising that someone would consider it offensive? Do you think that some people are just too damn sensitive? What would you consider the PC version of “chubby chaser”? Are you comfortable with people who are not of color using the N-word? Do you think it makes a difference if it’s spelled with an “er” or an “a”? Were you raised to say ma’am and sir? Do you think of MILF literally whenever you hear it? Would you be flattered if someone called you or the mother of your children a MILF? Do you think calling someone wifey is cute or tacky?
Speak your piece…