Let's Talk About Those BIG, Intellectual, Activism Words

By: Leah Weigel

Hetero-normativity. Intersectionality. Marginalization. Gender non-binary.

Those are some complex, but very common words found in todays feminist movement. I consider myself a progressive thinker as well as a passionate activist of many global issues, but honestly, I still get confused by some of these terms. It occurred to me that if I am struggling to keep up with the latest activism terms, imagine how shut out people new to the cause might feel! It is hard to be valued in a movement if you don’t even know what is going on! I believe that politically correct terms are INCREDIBLY ESSENTIAL to precisely explain the issues at hand, and effectively promote change where needed. BUT, there is a time and place for these terms, and it isn’t all the time.

Take feminism for example. Say I am having a conversation with someone who isn’t quite sure how they feel about the movement yet. Maybe it is an acquaintance who has said some questionable remarks about women. I don’t think the right approach is to start slamming them with a lecture on the history of misogyny or the need for marginalization and how anti-progressive they are for conforming to the heteronormative culture that prevents all things good in the world. That would scare this person away, and their association with feminism will be one of misunderstood terms that don’t mean a thing to them.

Over using, or being stuck to our intellectual activism words closes off progressive movements. The only people being involved are only the people that are educated enough to understand the language. How can we progress when we isolate ourselves to scholarly terms? How can we progress when we are not using the language of EVERYBODY. If you are a big-word-user, I praise you for having the knowledge to effectively understand and address the problems of the world. I also urge you to raise your sensitivity to know when, where, and how to drop those terms when it does not include individuals that may want to participate in the movement, but are excluded because they lack understanding of those big activism words.


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