At some point in your life, unless you have been hiding from everyone, someone will say something that hurts you or offends you. Whether they meant for that to happen or not doesn’t matter. As a writer and reader I understand the power of words and I tend to be careful with them. Even so I realised this past week that there are times I use them without thinking.
One such occasion was when I was walking with my children and a friend of theirs along the beach. I called out for them to walk around the fishermen, worried about them getting tangled in the lines. As we went past I realised that one of the people fishing was a woman and I had just effectively called her a man. She didn’t pay me the least bit of attention, more than likely completely oblivious to what I had said. But I was not. I wondered whether I should have said fisher-people but that sounded odd to me and it got me thinking about other such instances.
One of my daughters wants to be a firefighter when she grows up (last I heard anyway). She happened to say fireman when she was talking about it and one of my sons said she couldn’t because she was a girl. Well, that was the wrong thing to say! My other children came to her defense and my poor son stammered out that what he meant was the fact that she had said fireman and she is not a man so she would be a firewoman. At this point I stepped in and suggested we use the word firefighter to avoid any further arguing.
Now this is not to say that I think everything should be politically correct, but I do think we need to be careful with the underlying message we are giving our young people. And this comes back to being conscious with what the words we are saying actually mean. When writing I pick the word that will give the best impact for what I’m trying to convey. Why should what I’m saying be any different? Yes I can take my time with writing and go back and change things if I like, clearly you can’t do that when talking. But what you can do is slow down slightly and consider what is coming out of your mouth. Try it and see what happens.
Have a great week everyone and happy creating 🙂