It’s hard to overemphasize how important some of this is. Most people now understand why it’s hurtful to say something like, “they jewed me down,” but far fewer know gypsy is a troublesome word and that to use it as a verb is definitely an ethnic slur.
I remember maybe about four years ago when a teenage university student I know wrote an essay asking people not to use gay as a synonym for stupid. He made a powerful argument about how it does a lot of damage and causes a lot of internalized homophobia among gay kids.
And I watched him get attacked over and over again by straight people telling him he was being oversensitive. They were going to go right on ahead calling things gay if they felt like it, but of course they had nothing against actual gay people.
My young friend was shocked, and so was I.
It doesn’t hurt us to take people’s feelings into consideration. Yes, it might take a little bit of effort to change patterns of speaking, but in my opinion the effort is worth it.
I won’t use the word b**** to describe women. I’ve stricken it from my vocabulary because it’s hurtful and perpetuates stereotypes.
To be honest with you, that meant I had to change some of my patterns of speaking when joking around with my gay friends. The B word is a big part of gay in-speak.
But if I want people to be sensitive, then I need to be sensitive too, and I think the sacrifice is more than worth it.
Thanks for writing about this.