Endure as the mountain, flow as the river.
TRIGGER WARNING: Harsh Language, and Pejoratives.
My original blog was a lengthy discussion on pejoratives and communication. However, after some thought, I’ve decided to tie this in more to writing itself. The problem with “bad words” that we often face is how to deal with them. Realistically you cannot remove or censor a word. People will defiantly keep saying it, just as people keep attempting to preclude a sense of offense. A balance has to be sought and respect given to those around you. One reason we dive into this is the express purpose to understand the pain associated with these words.
Personally, I’m not really a marginalized person. It is not my place to explain how people who are actively degraded are the ones who need to speak. What I can however provide is a semblance of understanding why I write about what I write. I’m someone who suffers from anxiety disorder and possibly aphasia. I’ve experience misinterpretation, frustration, and once or twice there has been a few bits of verbal attacks on my person. But, that being said none of that is in comparison of how others have felt.
So, when I write characters who experience racism and bi-erasure I’ve never experience that. I have to dig into my own frustration my own pain with situations and try to put myself in their shoes. I won’t get poetic about it, but perhaps this is one reason why I take time to read, to watch films and to listen to other people. My family always told me, “close your mouth and open your ears.” For the past few years I’ve been watching issues and I’ve been learning about them. For a while I’ve understood the plight of LGBT* (I am genderfluid ^^) and I’ve personally dealt with identity issues.
Writing Reactions and Understanding Pain
If you have never been bullied, then you’ll never likely understand why a word can hold hate. There is however a level of hate and malice that can only be expressed through pejoratives. Words over time through usage attain a meaning. The original meaning of some began as merely an offhand term and over time came to mean horrendous things. When we use the word “R*ds**n” we are not just awakening years of bad experience, we are demoting someone down. I shouldn’t have to write this, but when I write stories that deal with characters who are actively marginalized. Nyla’s story was one of the hardest. I only have accounts and reading to understand.
But, words don’t have to be iconic to be hateful. There are a few instances of Media talking heads using the word “Thug” as a veiled way to attack African-Americans. All of this cannot hide the malice written into a person’s viewpoint on the word. It still confuses me how someone no matter how hurt or wronged can translate hate across an entire group. Yet, it does exist. So, when I it comes time to write scenes dealing with racism or sexism in that manner it makes me think. I try to bunch the hate up inside myself and when someone attacks another I use that feeling. On the other hand I then take it unto myself I draw from own experiences. All of that creates the writing that expels the sense of pain that can only be understood through what we often denote as a bad word.
Creating The Horrible Things
In worlds where there are no bad words, I’ve created then. “Scumker” is a word often slung by pilots and soldiers who fight the Voidkin in LiTS. Halfling is a term used against trans by ignorant Amazonian biggots in the Codex of Amazonia. All of it is part of a means of translating the conflict of dislike and misunderstanding. Sometimes, you cannot just sugar-coat the story. Using words that already exist doesn’t make sense. There is no modern word that explains the history or expresses the battles against the Voidkin. There isn’t a word that contextually fits the biggotry between Clans among the Amazones. These people really do not exist so their connotations don’t exist.
To create these words is the same process in how I write the scenes in which they are used. Scumker came out of the pejoratives used by Soldiers that I here when I speak with Veterans. The term Halfling was based on more modern uses of the word “IT” to dehumanize trans, but from a Amazonian perspective who has a far different take on gender than the old western world does.
Why Have Words At All
Society has problems, and society creates ways of describing that problem. Upper classes see those down as worthless or as ants. Those below resent those from above. Tension among those of different orientation, gender, ethnicity and creed is never going to end. People will find some way to transfer dislike onto others. To remove their sentience status so they don’t have to feel bad. This can be done in casual conversation with the old “those people” or “them”, and then you move on from there.
I coined or made up words, or used slang in my books to compel the understanding things. We often use words to denote people and then remove their common respect of human beings. I guess I’m just weird like that, but I wanted to make people think about how they talk. How we at times forget how we are talking about other people. Its something to consider.