Words Only Have The Power We Give Them

Source of photo: http://8-images.blogspot.com/2014/05/words-can-hurt-if-we-allow-them-to-have.html

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me…

A simple, 13 word truism that far too many people fail to grasp.

Even in our modern, technologically advanced society, words seem to offend people more than ever before. Case in point:

Source of photo: https://www.reddit.com/r/FeminismStopsWhen/comments/g4j3os/fsw_karen_is_worse_than_the_n_word/

Now calling a white woman “Karen” is as offensive as calling a black American the n-word! Incredible!

I don’t like arguing points based upon matters of degree. However, unlike the n-word or the k-word (the Nazi Germany or the Apartheid South Africa version, take your pick), I don’t think any white woman has been hung, whipped, brutalized, victimized, locked up in a concentration camp, worked on a plantation, gassed, or put into an oven while being called a “Karen”.

Are these ultra-sensitive people also offended by “Becky” and “Stacy” memes?

Given my understanding of the terms, the meaning behind the terms “Becky” (an average-looking to unattractive white female) and “Stacy” (a very attractive, typically white female who only wants equally attractive, typically white men) should be more offensive than being called a “Karen” (a generic, usually white, but not always, woman). The first two terms can actually be considered sexist, if for no other reason than they are used in a way that can be construed as sexist. But I digress…

My point is that it really doesn’t matter what any of these social media/internet terms actually mean. While context always trumps content, the title of this post and the graphic that opens it is what matters most of all.

Words only have the power we give them.

Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, the n-word debate, sparked by late comedian Richard Pryor’s copious use of the n-word in his routines, gave me perspective on how we give words undue power and how we can shape the power of words for good or for ill.

There is a difference between the n-word spelled with an “a” at the end vs. the more traditional spelling of the word with an “er” at the end. Again, context trumps content. However, invariably, there are many who are of the opinion that the n-word is offensive no matter the spelling or the context.

Personally speaking, I am of the opinion that the use of the n-word, even in an innocuous sense, is tantamount to using curse words, even in an innocuous way. It demonstrates that the person using those words are either deficient in the ability to express themselves or they are using those words to elicit a certain reaction or effect, and this is my point.

How we react to certain words has little to do with the words themselves. We only allow ourselves to be offended by the context in which certain words are couched.

If someone calls me a moron, I can only be upset if I allow myself to be or if deep down inside myself, I lack the confidence to know I’m not a moron. Insults only offend people who are predisposed to be offended or who value deportment in all situations.

Being offended at being called a “Karen” is as ridiculous as it sounds only because it lacks the historical context of terms like the n-word. However, just like the n-word, “Karen” only has the power to offend if you allow it to offend you. I pity people who are easily offended as much or more as I pity people who take pleasure in being offensive towards others.

How you CHOOSE to feel about the context in which certain words are used is entirely within YOUR control. You have the choice to be an emotional victim or an indifferent warrior.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you.

-The Rational Ram

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