Opinion: Vocabulary check

Every year, I feel like I hear more and more people using the word gay incorrectly. Contrary to popular belief, the word gay describes people who are homosexual. It should not be used to describe something you don’t like or agree with. However, in our culture, it has become totally acceptable to use normal identifying words, such as gay and girl, in derogatory ways.

The word gay has two definitions: “homosexual” and “lighthearted and carefree.” Yet, people seem to think that gay has many other definitions. Gay does not mean “stupid,” gay does not mean “annoying,” gay does not mean “weird.” It’s that simple. When you use the word gay in any other way, you sound extremely ignorant.

There is an endless list of other words you can choose instead of gay to describe something bad or stupid. Take some time to learn some new words, and expand your vocabulary. Not only will it make you seem more intelligent, it will also contribute to making this a better world for people of the LGBT community.

The word girl is an indicator of someone’s gender. Yet, some people seem to think that it is an adjective meaning “weak” and “over emotional.” Next time you call someone of any gender a girl in a negative way, stop for a moment and think. What did this person do that made me call them a girl? These are the things that people associate with being a female: weak, stupid, emotional, irrational, unintelligent, and less capable than men. Next time you call someone a girl for showing emotional or physical weakness or revealing any emotions, realize that you are adding to the pile of stereotypes that girls have to face every day.

Not only is it detrimental to girls, it is also harmful to men. It is enforcing unrealistic standards that all men must be strong, stoic, and intelligent. This makes things hard for boys who do not fit society’s image of a big strong powerful prince who must always be there to swoop in and save the day. While they might feel sympathetic to women’s issues, they will remain silent so to fit in with a standard that is unrealistic for everybody.

What you think might be an unimportant comment can be very hurtful to other people around you. It can also cause other people to think poorly of you. Although it might not always seem like it, word choice is very important. It dictates how others will see you and what kind of person you will be labeled as.

We all need to acknowledge that our words can have a huge influence on others. By tweaking your vocabulary just a tiny bit, you can make a positive impact and hopefully start bringing awareness to this issue.