It’s not your sex, gender, politics or race- It’s your language!
I was raised to believe profanity was the sign of a limited vocabulary. This didn’t register. At age 6, I ran three blocks from my home on Virginia Avenue to Forest Hills Elementary screaming Damn, Damn, Damn at the top of my lungs. Although I knew it was wrong, it felt good to be bad and wholly liberating! It’s clear by their choice words that speakers at the Women’s March felt the same way. The passionate use of the “P” word and references to sex and slavery made the personal political in their discourse about the body as a battlefield.
Language is political. Words capture thousands of experiences in just a few letters. Nasty apparently means different things to different people. Women have insane power to use words that either empower or disempower women collectively. Language, with infinite word choices, can alienate and divide as quickly as it creates common understandings. There is a fine line between expressing outrage and neutralizing unity with vulgarity. Inequality exists, clearly in structures, but I am a powerful woman with the mind, body and spirit that transcends the reduction of my experience to base human function and anatomy.
Betty Friedan said, “Men are not the enemy, but the fellow victims. The real enemy is women’s denigration of themselves.” When did the use of profane and vulgar words ever get a woman a promotion? Or equal pay? Or access to healthcare? Aren’t women better than this? We tell kids to be respectful of others but then perform vulgar public diatribes. There were children in the audience at the Women’s March in DC — — language please! I stand against sexism, racism, ableism and the plethora of “isms” that divide America. But, vulgarity does little to advance the feminist goals of justice and equity in all facets of life.
Preaching aside, young women engaged as post-modern feminists surely realize that sexual assault, body politics and reproductive rights are central issues in the broad coalition of feminist interests and that denigrating women, whether by language or action, limits the collective power of women to shape policy. Vulgar language does little more than reduce women to the terms on which they protest. Damn it!