Sunday, April 1, 2012

A bit about reclaiming words

The only thing that gives me pause about reclaiming words that I, in my target group identities have had used against me is the fear that the privileged people who hear my reclaimed words will think to themselves “Well they use that word why can't I?”. Words have contexts, histories and meanings and we need to be careful of that. We need to realize that when people are reclaiming that it can be a perilous time for them because the words still hurt and the words are hard to use and the words remind us every damn time we use them that we are oppressed.

It is worth it though. It is worth taking back the power and the hurt and the glory and the pain to fully live. To not let a word with history and power over us hurt us anymore. It is not something that can be done for another person though. They have to do it themselves. A person has to find their words that they want to empower themselves with and if those words need to be reclaimed from their oppressors, more power to them.

It is their choice though. What words, what sounds, what sights, smells and feelings they want to reclaim. What they have the ability to handle right now to reclaim. That needs to be respected. For me, personally, I love the word 'cunt' for my reproductive organs because it's something that has been used to demean me in the past. HOWEVER I know that a lot of people, especially a lot of people with vaginas or who other perceive as having vaginas really really don't like that word. So I don't use it a lot and if I know someone has a problem with it then I will do my best not to squick them in their space.

On my pages, in my blog, and in my head however it is mine and because of that I am empowered.

If that is how a person is reclaiming then awesome.
If that is how a person is using it then awesome.
If that is how a person is being empowered by it then awesome.

I have however seen supposed reclaiming that is harmful.

I have seen people 'reclaim' words used against them and then turn around and horizontally oppress other people in their own target group, with their own identity, with the very word they say they are reclaiming. If the word is still being used to harm, to hold someone down, to trigger bad memories, to attack, then it is not being reclaimed it is being propagated.

Reclamation is not about stealing power from others it is about empowering ourselves so that the words with their whole history of harm and abuse of our own people aren't hurting. When we used these words to harm people who have had them used as weapons by oppressors already we are setting that process back.

That is the difference to me.

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