Language matters and internet trolls are proving it


Photo credit: David Molina

Last week the Chico State Athletics Department released a campaign put together by the student athletes.

The campaign featured students in their uniforms with a pull-quote next to them that identified what word or phrase they saw as offensive and why they choose to not use that word or phrase.

The campaign went instantly viral and was featured on Good Morning Americaand Fox News.

Though there is a lot of positive feedback, there is also a lot of negative commentary.

The initial post on Facebook has nearly 15,000 comments and a lot of them are pretty nasty — Calling Chico State essentially all of the things that were listed in the campaign such as pussies.

I however, loved the post. People get defensive because no one likes to be criticized for the language they use when they probably didn’t mean any harm by it.

That’s the point of campaigns like this. They aren’t put out their to “ban” language or to attack people for using it. They are published to raise awareness. They are put out there in the world to maybe help other people to see a different perspective.

No one is trying “ban” language or take away freedom of speech.

I decided to review a few of my favorite posts from the campaign and explain why they are really great to stop oppressive language.

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The phrase “no homo” has been adopted lately as a way to assure men that other men aren’t into them when they show any kind of affection. There are a couple things pretty problematic about this:

First, If established societal masculinity is so fragile that men actually can’t show emotion towards other men without being ridiculed and belittled, then there is definitely a problem.

Second, Why is homosexuality even something that people are afraid to be seen as? There should be no shame to love who you want.

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A lot of negative commentators of this particular image said that Hip Hop is one of the biggest perpetrators of this. While this is true, it doesn’t make it any less offensive to black men and women. This term originates from the days of slavery and it’s still very much a term that brings shame and fear to people of color. Even if it seems like a person is just playing around and being casual, there are so many other ways to address pals.

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Human beings are complex and there are so many things that make us up to be what we are. Asking people of color “what are you?” essentially diminishes them down simply to their race. A better way to go about asking people about their ethnic and racial origins is asking just that– Where is your family from? Or better yet, don’t ask at all and instead get to know all people for their interests, hobbies and histories.

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I have never understood why the word pussy was used to describe weakness or cowardliness. A woman’s body is incredible and can actually push a living human being out of said pussy.

Cats are also known as pussies and cats are badass, fierce motherfuckers.

Also instead of calling people out for not participating in activities or not doing them well, how about we invite them to try and encourage improvement.

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This is one that a lot of people, including myself, are guilty of. It wasn’t until I had a friend that had attempted suicide and was recovering from severe depression that reminded me when I used this phrase that joking about ending your life can be so triggering for people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.

People keep claiming that the “political correctness” movement is what is ruining our country and even a reporter for Fox News called Chico State students wimps for this campaign.

I think that minority groups finally standing up and saying “hey this doesn’t feel good,” is the opposite of being weak and in fact, is one of the strongest things a human being can do.

Who are we to tell people what to feel when we say things to them?

It’s not about being sensitive or defensive, it’s about being a decent person and growing and learning every day.

Whitney Urmann can be reached on at [email protected] or @WhitneyUrmann on Twitter.