Saturday, 17 August 2013

Semantic squabbling

Hello lovely person reading this. I'd like to let you know, before you read on, that I am an idiot. I am a buffoon with as much understanding of how to word an argument correctly as a slug. Or A.A Gill.
With that in mind (and seriously, please do keep it in mind) I'd like to put forward my two pence on some aspects of the following article by Laurie Penny, in particular her talk of Semantic squabbling.

http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/08/laurie-penny/men-sexism

Basically, as far as I can understand, using 'Men' as a catch all phrase for 'Men against feminism' is ok as at the heart of it all, all men have a responsibility to push forward equal rights and unless one is actively involved in doing something, then you are setting back the cause. She argues that to say 'some men' rather than 'men' to describe patriarchal abuse of power is just semantics and a non issue.

If I've misunderstood I apologise, but I disagree that these labels are just semantics, and unimportant. When a statement is made which accuses or damns one section of society the reaction is to baulk, to become defensive. To prompt that reaction seems counter productive.

Another example (and again I am treading WAY away from my meagre sphere of experience) was the #fuckcispeople trend on Twitter. The anger the trans* community must feel from being marginalised, terrorised, abused is impossible for me to comprehend and I admire the strength, intelligence and bravery of those fighting against the hell they face. But drawing the battle lines against EVERY CIS person is only ever going to foster unrest. I can't tell people who have struggled against discrimination how to react, of course I can't. Especially as I'm a straight, white male. But instead of punching out, would promoting dialogue not be a better way ahead? And wouldn't a way of starting that to be using language more effectively and fairly?

All I can see at the moment is a game of 'inequality Top Trumps' with infighting and no pushing towards the ultimate goal of equality for all.

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