It’s a new year and a scary new world. We had to come up with new words in 2016 to describe post-truth, alt-right, Brexiteering horrors. And although we tried our best to achieve wokeness, things still went to hell.
As the collective conversation continues in 2017, there are some stale words and phrases commonly used by progressives that, at this point, are doing more harm than good. Here are the top ten worst offenders:
10) Full stop: This is used to preemptively tell people to “shut up” and basically means, “I can’t defend my position, so you better not ask me any follow-up questions about it!”
Sex work is not universally exploitative. Period. Full-stop.
— Seattlish (@seattlish) January 12, 2015
I really don't give a damn that there's no ~cheap humor~ involved. A cis dude playing a trans woman is inherently violent. full stop.
— Nick B (@punkfairyprinxe) September 29, 2014
LEGALIZE SEX WORK. RIGHT NOW. DO IT. FULL STOP. https://t.co/8z5fDBtZYc
— Katie Rose Pryal (@krgpryal) February 5, 2016
9) Policing: Sooo many new kinds of “policing” were invented in recent years: “Identity policing,” “body policing,” “tone policing”… This usage of the word puts regular people who criticize, analyze, or “judge” social phenomena or systems of power (like feminists) on par with a heavily armed class of domestic soldiers charged with maintaining the social order. How nuanced.
— gpdlondon (@gpdlondon) December 8, 2016
— sunshinesp411 (@sunshinessp411) April 9, 2016
@FAIR4CA are you in porn? Or do you just enjoy morally policing others bodies? Sex Work is othered in society because of groups like yours
— Sydney Jones (@MdmSydneyJones) October 11, 2016
— Volmornu Unromlov (@Volmornu) October 9, 2016
8) This: “So much this.” No hard feelings, it just doesn’t really add anything to a conversation…
7) Menstruators: This word reminds me of that ubiquitous Science Fiction trope where, in the future, we find that everyday language has been replaced by sanitized technical terms that have a brutally utilitarian feel. Like the “caffeine solution” drink in Huxley’s Brave New World that replaced tea and coffee. Or the inhuman-sounding “ectogenesis” that replaced women’s role in reproduction.
In Sci-Fi, future-people are likely to have things like “nutrient induction tubes” instead of food or “pleasure release valves” instead of sex. “Menstruators” sound like they would require “endometrial absorbency cylinders” for their “periodic uterine shedding.”
Today’s lexicon sounds increasingly like some technocratic dystopia built on female exploitation, where instead of a “mother” we have a “birthing parent” or a contracted fetal incubator who serves as “surrogate.” Instead of the morally-loaded term “prostitution,” we have the disturbingly sanitized term “sex work.” It feels like soon, instead of referring to the political class of “women,” we’ll only have “front-holed folks.”
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) September 2, 2016
6) Cis/cisgender: This word is just gross. It sounds like a tumour.
But beyond its phonetic unpleasantness, “cis” is also insulting and harmful to women. Women who do not claim to have a special “gender identity” are told they are “cis.” Cis/cisgender is defined as identifying with the “gender you were assigned at birth.” For females, this means they supposedly identify with the feminine gender — aka the oppressive stereotypes that have been traditionally associated with/imposed on the female sex. This is, of course, bullshit. At birth, females are assigned a gendered role synonymous with inferiority and subordination. But just because a woman doesn’t claim to be anything other than a woman, doesn’t mean she “identifies” with her subordination. Women aren’t in this terrible position because it just so happens our personality is that of second-class citizens…
Word of the Day: Cisgender. Cis is Latin for "on this side of." Cisgender refers to people who identify with the gender assigned at birth.
— Carolyn Marie Weiss (@carolynmweiss) October 31, 2016
5) “All genders”: This is just faux-progressive code for “includes men.” It’s not always a bad thing to include men, but please, let’s stop beating around the bush about what we really mean.
A march for people of all genders: Women's March on Washington: a guide to the post-inaugural social justice event https://t.co/1IIM2bR7zZ
— Marnie Mueller (@marniemuell) December 30, 2016
— Dion Fawcett (@dionfawcett) December 2, 2016
We operate out of the UIowa Women's Resource and Action Center, where all genders are and identities are welcome!
— UIowa LEAP (@uiowa_LEAP) December 21, 2016
— L Dabydeen (@flaxmeal) December 8, 2016
— Angie Li (@contactangieli) September 13, 2016
4) Marginalized: Today it seems “marginalization” is used as though it’s synonymous with “oppression.” This is part of a troubling trend wherein mainstream liberal politics have distorted and depoliticized the concept of oppression and its systemic nature, replacing it with “marginalization.” This language allows us to easily position “exclusion” and lack of “visibility” as the main source of social harm, rather than oppressive systems of power.
Once more for folx in the back: trans exclusion is violence, particularly when it's intentional. https://t.co/DnABWaf8z2
— Britni de la Cretaz (@britnidlc) November 20, 2015
— Everyday Feminism (@EvrydayFeminism) October 23, 2016
By replacing “oppression” with “marginalization,” material oppression is put on par with being excluded from conversations about material oppression. This is the logic, for example, behind the recent pushback against Canada’s inquiry into the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (#MMIWG) that claims the focus on females “marginalizes” male victims. Similarly, this framework leads to the notion that bisexuals (especially those in heterosexual relationships) are oppressed more than homosexual people as they are not acknowledged enough (therefore marginalized) by the gay rights movement and society at large.
— Harvard University (@Harvard) September 23, 2016
By this logic, populations that appear outside the margins of what is normal or legitimate are said to be oppressed.
— Routledge Psychology (@Routledgepsych) May 26, 2016
In honor of one of the readings we did this week about marginalized sexuality I'm gonna dress the way I do for BDSM hookups in class
— ~dabitha (it/its)~ (@cutelithoe) November 2, 2016
This line of thinking can get super dangerous. For example, in her highly influential theory of sexual oppression presented in Thinking Sex (1984), philosopher Gayle Rubin identifies pedophiles (“boy-lovers”) as one of the most unjustly marginalized sexual minorities.
Unlike oppression, marginalization isn’t always a bad thing. Some groups of people should be cast to the margins of a community, and their actions viewed as unacceptable. Despite the ongoing media push to view pedophiles sympathetically, sorry, no one’s buying it! Pedophiles should be marginalized, stigmatized, and excluded.
3) Matters: This matters, that matters, everything matters! Thankfully, the trend of coopting Black Lives Matter and treating it like a cut-and-paste motto for any social group whatsoever — “Fill-in-the-blank lives matter!” — has dwindled, but the word “matters,” in general, holds a strange prominence in contemporary language. In the Internet age, defined by information overload, no one wants to waste time on something that isn’t relevant — why read about an issue unless the headline promises we’ll be told “why it matters.”
We Broke Down Everything You Should Know About The Syrian Refugee Crisis — And Why It Matters http://t.co/a5Y5BxYLQs
— MTV News (@MTVNews) September 4, 2015
2) Bodies: Marginalized bodies, endangered bodies, black and brown bodies… It seems all woke progressives have begun to refer to people as if they are no more than “bodies.”
@RBReich But when black/brown/female/queer bodies save our country from this madman, they'll have done thrice as much good as his evil
— Jeff Moran (@JeffCMoran) November 5, 2016
I think he means to say “people” there…
We can survive without the support of the GOP and Democratic Party. Said parties cannot survive without the support of black + brown bodies.
— The Keep Ypsi Black (@keepypsiblack) November 16, 2016
Are the bodies used as literal support beams?
violence against and exclusion of female bodies is linked to violence against and exclusion of poor bodies https://t.co/mbbhYQ6aaX
— Girls at Dhabas (@girlsatdhabas) December 21, 2016
I didn’t even know bodies could hold the physical property of being economically poor.
For Trans and Queer Bodies, Massage Therapy Is a World of Pain – Broadly https://t.co/WYjM0kz2Bo
— Share LGBTQ News (@sharelgbtqnews) November 13, 2016
Wait, how do bodies have a sexual orientation like “queer” or “straight,” for that matter?
This usage of the word “bodies” became fashionable within postmodern discourse (largely due to Michel Foucault) and has now filtered down from academia into online think pieces. The effect has been to objectify certain populations instead of challenging that objectification, as intended… Cuz it sounds cool!
1) Folks: Since Obama’s casual “we tortured some folks” statement in 2014, it seems this word has exploded in the liberal lexicon. And like Obama’s torture nbd, “folks” is often employed in order normalize particular subject matter by adding a veneer of familiarity and a down-home feel.
#bicommunitymeans home for bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, biaffectionate, biromantic, queer, polysexual, & all non-monosexual folks
— BOP (Bi org project) (@biorgproject) August 24, 2016
And, of course, it’s also used to depoliticize women’s issues and erase our systemic disempowerment as a class. For example, it’s important to remember that abortion isn’t about any particular group of folks:
— Abortion Rights IE (@freesafelegal) December 21, 2016
During the 2016 presidential debates, many felt that folks-rights issues were neglected.
— Steph Herold (@StephHerold) September 27, 2016
We must fight to end the GOP War On Folks:
The war on reproductive rights hurts people of color & low income folks the most. Lawmakers ignore history. https://t.co/CgnXStdjcF
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) May 29, 2016
So there you have it! Let us know if you agree or if there are other words that we need to say bye-bye to in 2017.