Residents discuss derogatory language and how to “Think Twice; Speak Once”

Jessica PellegrinoGeneral Assignment Reporter 

Names can really harm, even when the word is being used positively.

That is the message that Hickerson Hall Resident Advisor Monique Mason was trying to get across during her program, “Think Twice; Speak Once.”

The program, which was held on April 15 in Hickerson Hall, was an effort to open a discussion on the use of derogatory language amongst students, especially in friendly, nonchalant type situations.

“My goal is to try to let students know that using derogatory language is detrimental, even if you are using it positively. I want to have a truthful and honest discussion with the group,” said Mason.

Mason cites examples of this as girls calling each other names that would otherwise be seen negatively, such as “my bitch” or “hoes.” Mason does not believe girls should be referring to each other by perpetuating negative language, even when are speaking fondly of their friends.

“Using negative language in a ‘positive’ way seems counter productive to me. Those words are still being used in daily conversation to belittle women,” said Mason.

The program, however, was not only female centric. Mason said men do the same thing, with different language.

Madison Breun, public health major, helped facilitate the program. The program garnered the attention of about 15 students, both female and male were in attendance.

For the first portion of the program, Mason hung a large sheet of paper on the wall. She asked the crowd to shout out derogatory terms they have heard being used around campus recently. She listed them is large black letters on the page.

Students listed classically derogatory terms seen for years, as well more timely and trendy words, like “THOT.”

After she made the list, Mason asked students to, one by one, come up to the large list and put a tally mark next to any of the words they have personally used, or have had said to them in the past.

The students were honest and the tally marks encompassed more of the page than the words themselves.

After this activity, Mason led a discussion with the students about why they chose to use those words, rather than the more obvious, positive options.

The conversation was guided by the idea that negative language is still negative, regardless of the context it is being used in.

Students actively participated in the conversation and honestly answered the questions. Some students suggested that when they are using derogatory language, they simply using the lingo, and not at all being aggressive.

Other students, however, admitted to the fact that they are sometimes offended by the language. While other students believe the words have begun to lose their meaning.

Breun said, “Most of the words on this list directly attack femininity, suggesting that being females are the weaker gender.”

The discussion took a turn into the dynamics of rap music. Students believe  rap music is one of the reasons that derogatory language is so wide spread.

However, Mason believes that in certain situations, language can be reclaimed. For example, the once derogatory word “queer” is now effectively used to describe a community. She believes that is possible with other derogatory terms people use frequently.

Mason ended the discussion by suggesting that students should use more positive language and make a personal pledge to end the use of derogatory language.



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