Should We Shy Away From Offensive Words


I’m not saying that we should go back to calling people any sort of offensive name. I back up and absolutely agree that it’s unacceptable to call people things like retard, nigger, tranny, trap, fag, etc. but…

When we are talking about the words themselves within the context of studying, understanding and pointing out why using them is unacceptable, should we shy away from even typing them out?

Well… I can not speak for groups I am not part of. So, the ones that I will focus on are tranny and trap. Those are part of my personal experience. None of the others are.

These words make me mad as hell.


I don’t think that I should shy away from them when talking about them though. They have enough power in the first place. Why should I give them any more? Tranny is just overall offensive and unnecessary. It’s pretty much ubiquitously been used as a derogatory term for trans people, and so has trap, but it’s not as generalized. It comes from a specific and pervasive concept that trans women only do what we do to trap men into sexual relationships and be creepy perverts.

So, yes, calling me, or any other trans person either of these means you are being an asshole (unless for whatever reason somebody requests you use those terms, but that’s between you and them).

But… Why should we not use things like the n-word and the r-word when talking about these words if we shouldn’t be calling people them? Well… In a way, I see it a lot like I see cusswords. It’s one thing to say “this is the shit”, exclaim “holy shit!” or tell someone they’re a piece of shit. They are all the same word, but they have different levels of offense and meaning. I see saying any of these words while talking of them much like the less offensive “this is the shit” or “holy shit”.

When you speak of an idea, you are not labeling the people behind that idea, at least not inherently. When someone says “don’t use the n-word” it feels so… helpless. It seems much like Voldermort. Don’t speak the word, lest it rear it’s ugly head, and somehow do something bad. I don’t know, it just seems very odd to be so… afraid of a word that you are unwilling to say it when talking about it.

I understand the horrible history of all of these words, that is not lost on me. I also understand that words have exceptional power, but I do not think that fear and hatred of a word should control us so much that we are unable to even say it.

2 thoughts on “Should We Shy Away From Offensive Words

    1. I draw the line at the use of the word toward another person. I don’t personally think that they should be hidden away and censored if the conversation is about those words. I think it’s important to use them, if only to take away some of it’s power. I would never, ever advocate using those words toward someone else though. The fear of the words makes it stronger, and the use of them weakens that strength.
      Part of it is also area based, using the same example you used, cunt is quite a bit more liberally used in Australia than it is here in the US. Here, it’s definitely a highly derogatory term, and unacceptable to use for the most part. So, societal and cultural norms must also be taken into consideration.


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