Aug. 5th, 2010

manifesta: (Battle Eyeliner)
ALSO EDITED TO ADD: Please read [personal profile] ephemere's post Patalim first. (Trigger warning for descriptions of violence.)  I just now ran across it and it is so, so much more eloquent and important. I tried to choose a quote that best encapsulates it, but you should really read the whole thing. Go on. This post will still be here when you get back.

Elizabeth Bear really, really should have gone away and thought long and hard before commenting.

Words associated with historical representations are not "mythologized."
my·thol·o·gize
To convert into myth; mythicize.
1. To construct or relate a myth.
2. To interpret or write about myths or mythology. #
The background behind "deathmarch" is real. There is nothing mythic about respecting the experiences of those who have been systematically dehumanized and slaughtered or the people who belong to one or more cultures scarred by those experiences.

While I do not equate "deathmarch" with gender, sexuality, or ethnic insults, they belong to the same spectrum of violence and reflect very similar attitudes. "Deathmarch" resides at the very end of that spectrum, but casual insults that enable some groups of people to marginalize other groups of people and wittle them down to lesser-than-human are at its start. Tell me: does choosing not to use "gay" as an insult mythologize the word? I ask because I have a feeling that people who will cheerfully defend the use of "deathmarch" would be less inclined to defend the use of less socially acceptable insults such as "gay," even  though those insults do not hold the same resonance as a term that implies large-scale murder.

Words have power. Pretending they don't have power, or shouldn't have power, only increases the power they do have--through ignorance. By using words related to marginalized groups' identities or experiences in such a casual context, we choose to erase and mythologize what those words represent.

From [personal profile] megwrites:
"Because what's a deathmarch to you, after all? Just a word for you to play with. Because it's not part of your history as a white citizen of the U.S. Because you don't look back and get to say "I don't know what nation any of my ancestors come from because they were rounded up, enslaved, had their names stripped, and became animals to those who bred, sold, and used them like property." Because nobody's ever rounded up your friends and neighbors and family members and shipped them like boxes or cattle to a place where they were intended to be worked to death or killed outright. Because nobody's ever come to you and said "sorry, this home you live in isn't yours, gotta go" and held a gun to you and make you walk from GEORGIA TO OKLAHOMA. Because your home, the place where you reside, has not seen active aggression from a foreign combatant in centuries. Because of course murder and torture and genocide are banal to you. They don't touch or affect you personally or culturally, so why shouldn't you play around with those words.

They don't hurt you after all. So why shouldn't you say "Soup Nazi" or "deathmarch" or any of those things. It isn't like it hurts you, and if it doesn't hurt you, it's obviously not important, is it?" #
Edited to add a few things and shuffle the post around for clarity. I apologize for any confusion.

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