Words You May Not Realize You SHOULDN'T Be Saying

January 16, 2019

You probably know by this point that you shouldn't be using words like "retarded" or "gay" to describe your feelings or how someone else treats you. I'm not expecting everyone to go to extreme lengths of political correctness, but there are some words that are unbelievably commonly used and equally as detrimental to those they impact.
I want to say that I am guilty of using every. single. one. of these words before I knew that they weren't okay. Nobody is perfect, but if you know that something you're doing is wrong, it is your responsibility to change. Here we go!

"When you are careless (or purposeful) in using language that you’re fully aware will hurt, alienate, and divide, you’re giving permission for others to do the same thing." | Matt Chambers

  • Gay: It's 2019. You know using "gay" to mean "stupid," "lame," or whatever other negative things you can think of. LGBTQ+ people experience enough discrimination as it is, please don't make things any harder for them. 
  • Retarded: If you're referring to ritardando in music, that is just about the only acceptable way to use any variation of this word. It's 2019. "Retarded" simply isn't acceptable in any context. Please stop. Read more.
  • Crazy / Insane: These simple, seemingly throwaway words trivialize mental illnesses. This subtle discrimination can lead people to believe that their difficult mental health struggles equate to evil. Read more.
  • Triggered: Trauma should be taken seriously. There are many individuals who use "triggers" as an excuse or convenience, and this too hurts the mental health community and those with traumatic pasts.
  • OCD: Y'all. This is a literal MENTAL ILLNESS. Not to mention, liking things a certain way is pretty much unrelated to actual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. "OCD" itself is not a bad word, but when used to describe your plain desire for organization, you are being ableist.
  • Bipolar: Again, this is a literal mental illness. So unless you are referring to someone who legitimately has Bipolar Disorder, you shouldn't be saying this. Rapidly changing your opinion ≠ Bipolar. Stop! trivializing! mental! illness!
  • Gypped: "Gypsy" is a term often used to describe the Romani people. The term has very negative connotations, and its derivative carries even more: when somebody is "gypped," they are, according to Merriam-Webster, "defrauded, swindled, cheated." So yeah, comparing an entire ethnic group to being cheated is naturally not a good thing. 
  • Man Up: Say it with me: MEN ARE ALLOWED TO SHOW EMOTION. Men are allowed to be weak. Men are allowed to talk about their feelings. You are reinforcing toxic masculinity! Stop it! Read more.
I honestly could go on and on - this list is 100% non-comprehensive. I know that I am no expert, and very imperfect myself, but I hope that sharing this information can help all of us to do better. I highly recommend reading this page about ableism/language and continuing to do your own research into words that do incredible harm to people around the world.

It's a new year - let's all try a little harder to be a little better.

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