www.whyville.net Jan 10, 2003 Weekly Issue

Words in the New Year

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Words in the New Year

Times Writer

Since it is the New Year, you think of fresh beginnings and times where you can start over. On that note, I wanted to bring up some of the topics that bothered me, and that I believed could be abolished with some awareness.

The simple statement that "girls are the weaker sex" is simply untrue, but has been around since... well... as long as I can remember. When someone says this, it really bothers me, because they are not trying to put down the person who the statement is directed to, and yet are degrading millions of individuals around the world.

You have probably heard "you hit like a girl" many times, and to you it might not seem like a derogatory thing to say. But who says girls cannot hit like any guy? Furthermore, who made boys the supreme leaders of sports, anyway? This reminds me of a poster that was advertised by our school guidance offices. It said, "You know the worse thing you can call a guy is a girl?" It was to promote awareness of violence towards women, but I thought it could serve a different purpose.

You know this begins at childhood. Boys are always dressed up in blue, while girls look "beautiful" in pink. Parents buy boys trucks and cars to play with, hoping that they one day become a professional athletes or racecar drivers. Girls are given a Barbie-doll and makeup kits and told to dream of being ballerinas or mommies. Why not give the girl a truck and a boy a Barbie? What is the worst possible thing that could happen?

I know where you are thinking about right now, which slides me over to another topic: the misuse of the word gay. Now, over a period of time, this word has begun to be used all the time. I'd say I hear this at least ten times a day at my high school, and it is something that you tend to get used to.

"This homework assignment is gay" or "You??re gay" is thrown around like candy-wrappers, but people do not realize what they are actually saying. You are basically saying that a homework assignment is homosexual, when it surely cannot be since it doesn??t have a sexuality. Instead of using the words stupid, pointless, or tedious, many of us use 'gay', thinking that it seems like the "cool" thing to do. Everyone does it. It's a shorthand that somehow makes sense, in spite of the meaning of the word.

You think when you call someone "gay" that it is a put-down. It may be, in your world, but you are also putting down a whole group of people with that one remark. Often without knowing that you are doing so.

I know this seems like a hard thing for me to ask, but why not make up a new word (or find an old one) to replace these words? Expand your vocabulary. Instead of telling your friend who is having troubles hitting a baseball that he hits like a girl, say he hits like a... sloth... or better yet, don't say anything derogatory at all. (Excuse me -- I did not mean to offend all of the sloths out there.)

Here is to hoping that some day girls will not be referred to as the weaker sex. The term gay will be obsolete when referred to something disliked. I know one boy who will be happier when all of this is resolved and out in the open.

Cry Me a River,




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