Liberate Your Language – Zine Contribution by Elecia

Here is Elecia’s contribution to the second issue of our zine (transcript below). Thank you Elecia ❤

Liberate Your Language

 

Content warning: discussion of disordered eating and homophobia.

Have you ever been in a social situation where something someone else has said has made you feel uncomfortable? Suddenly your heart starts beating faster. Your hands might shake a little (or a lot). You find it difficult to think of how to respond. Whether you should even bother to respond at all. Time slows down, and you want to escape the conversation on as quickly as possible.

This happens to me a lot. At first, I wondered if I was just an awkward person (this is probably somewhat true) or maybe incredibly sensitive. The first time I noticed was during a period of intense emotional difficulty and disordered eating – any mention of how my body looked had me wishing for the ground to open beneath my feet. After this, I struggled admitting my sexuality was definitely not heterosexual to people I didn’t know in case they were purposely (or even accidentally) homophobic. Now, as soon as anyone mentions any kind of animal exploitation, I look for the easiest exit.

I’m telling you this because people do not always consider the feelings or responses of those around them. We all have different experiences. I’m telling you this because it is so important to think about what you say before you say it. This is not about policing freedom of speech. It’s about not oppressing minorities.

Let me explain – comments about how my body looked were directly related to my gender identity and I felt under pressure to conform to societal standards. Placing value on women’s bodies is sexist objectification. It is so normalized that many people do this without even realizing.

Let’s move on. I experienced homophobia in different ways growing up –from people ‘innocently’ using the term ‘gay’ as an adjective to describe anything that bothers them, hearing others spread jokes about lgbtqia+ individuals and having slurs thrown my way. It’s no surprise that people find coming out difficult.

What I have been struggling with recently is correcting people that assume that I must be heterosexual. Will I get looks of reproach? What if they make my work place uncomfortable? Will I be unsafe? Why the fuck should I even have to consider these things?

And finally: it is unbelievably hard to listen to people discussing how much they enjoy to consume corpses and drink milk stolen from mothers. Admitting veganism to carnists usually results in either: silence, jokes ridiculing your choices, brushing your comments off, or concerns about your health (don’t fucking talk to me about my ‘diet’ after two years of disordered eating. Seriously). Most of this does not oppress me as a human, but affects all of the animals that are exploited by our species.

Basically, I’m trying to say that people often say things to me that oppress me as a bisexual woman and single out veganism as a negative difference (thereby oppressing animals). Sometimes it’s unintnional. Sometimes it isn’t.

The language we use helps us to create and shape our understanding of the world. Active campaigning and growing awareness means that many terms are now understood as oppressive to marginalized groups. Toxic words are no longer tolerated. It is up to us to ensure that we are not harming people because of the words we are using. Stop throwing around ableist terms like ‘stupid’. Don’t use the word ‘bitch’ to describe people you don’t like (it’s sexist and speciesist!) Don’t assume someone’s gender identity and sexuality. It’s hard to catch yourself at first, and you might feel embarrassed swallowing your pride to apologize, but creating an inclusive and supportive environment is crucial.

We need our language to reflect our politics. We take a stance against violence. Let’s not engage in microaggressions that harm others.

~elecia