Monday, January 22, 2018

Language and perception

Language can affect perception
The #MeToo movement has a problem:  People are only discussing part of the reason for the delayed revelations of sexual harassment.
It's not just that many women were afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.
It's also that it's hard to report a problem that doesn't have a name.
Some 40 years ago, when I was being sexually harassed on a regular basis by a co-worker, not only was sexual harassment not a crime, but, in addition, the term "sexual harassment" didn't exist yet.  How could I accuse someone of a nameless non-crime?
You can't fight a ghost--you need to be able to name a problem before you can protest against it.
Perception can affect language
I'd like reconsider my recent post, Don't call me a girl.
Why is it considered an insult to call a grown Black man a boy, while it's considered a compliment to call a grown woman, no matter how old, a girl?
In the bad old days, Black adults were rarely treated as adults.Consequently, calling a grown Black man a boy is considered racist.
But our current culture seems to think that every woman is supposed to stay young until her dying day.  Consequently, calling an older woman--which, in this culture, could conceivably be any woman over 30--a girl serves to reassure her that she's living up to the myth. 
I have no interest in the eternal-youth myth.  I'm perfectly happy to be 68--it sure beats the alternative.

Related:  Discrimination is discrimination



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sexual harassment is not a crime. It may get you fired. It may get the company in trouble. But it is not a crime. The penalty is monetary damages, not jail.

Wed Jan 24, 11:24:00 AM 2018  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Hm, an interesting point. Personally, I think it *should* be a crime.

Wed Jan 24, 05:13:00 PM 2018  

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