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A Word That is Often Found On Social Networks

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    Sticks and Stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you. This is not true. Language has a lot of power to hurt others and it is up to people how they wield that power. Loaded words have strong emotional meaning behind them and can be positive or negative. For example, encouraging words have the power to lift up and empower someone, yet degrading words can humiliate and tear one down. While the original meaning was nothing but a pile of sticks, faggot is now a loaded word that is often seen on social media and in music we listen to and associated mostly with a negative response. Throughout history, the word faggot has been associated with hateful thoughts and verbal abuse by individuals who do not agree with the gay lifestyle. The word faggot is controversial and there seems to be an ongoing debate on who can use the word and who can not.

    Individuals in the gay community often use the word as an endearment, while condemning the use by straight people because of the derogatory history behind it. Therefore, there is growing evidence that the word faggot is a loaded word with both positive and negative results. To make sense of these differences, it is important that people understand the connotations behind the word and why they should not use it with the intent to insult or humiliate others. First, where did the word faggot originate from and why is it offensive? According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), the etymology was most likely french origin spelled fagot, and means a bundle of sticks or twigs tied together for use of fuel.

    The OED also defines fagot as being used in the burning alive of people regarded as heretics, and then much later in history, a term of abuse and contempt towards women. This meaning was just the beginning of a word with negative connotations behind it. The modern term definition today is considered slang and spelled faggot. OED cites the current definition of faggot “A homosexual man considered to be effeminate. A term of abuse or contempt.” The definition of faggot has changed immensely from its original meaning and is used more often today as a derogatory term intended to insult or humiliate homosexual men or used in a jokingly manner towards straight men. An argument in society today is the word has different meanings depending on the context it is used in. Visit any high school in America and the word faggot will eventually be heard. Athletes will sometimes joke around with their peers and call their straight friend a fag who is perceived to be weak or not up to tough guy standards.

    Some might argue they did not mean it to be offensive and are just playing around. This does not make it okay. It is the history and connotation behind it that makes it still wrong to say. Faggot is not just heard in high schools though. Everywhere you look you can see the word faggot being used. For example, the word faggot keeps popping up in the music industry. Eminem, a well-known rapper with explicit lyrics uses the word faggot in many of his songs. “Rap God” lyrics on state “I’ll still be able to break a table over the back of a couple of faggots and crack it in half.” Eminem’s songs could be considered homophobic or hate lyrics because he uses the word faggot repeatedly in them. Yet, he has received countless music awards and recognition for his lyrics.

    Additionally, famous rapper Tyler, uses the word faggot in his lyrics titled “Ass Milk” which state “Come take a stab at it faggots, I pre-ordered your casket.” These rap artists intentionally use the word faggot as an intended slur and the meaning behind it is almost always a hateful one. This is not to say the word should be banned altogether; however, people simply should not say it if the intent is to insult someone. The question then becomes should the word ever be used and if so who can use it? There are many gay people that embrace the word and make it their own, yet find it highly offensive if a straight person who does not share their oppressive history says it. There are some members of the gay community that reclaim the word faggot as a term of endearment towards each other or believe it is empowering to use.

    An interview with Jillian Michaels in Pride Source Magazine titled “Jillian Michaels on Her Madonna-Influenced Coming Out, LGBT Community’s Pressure to Marry & Why She Uses the Word Fag,” discusses the word faggot. During the interview, editor Chris Azzopardi questions Jillian Michaels on “why she uses labels such as the word fag.” Michaels replies “We don’t allow them to harm us or hurt us and there could be a whole psychology about why we do, but we all do. It’s like, I own these words, they’re my words, and I’ve suffered enough to be able to take them on and wear them with pride, so to speak.” Jillian Michaels is a fitness celebrity who is known for her role on the television show “The Biggest Loser.” People like Michaels, who have experienced the history and ridicule as a member of the gay community, have the right to use the word because the word is used in completely different context when they say it. According to Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of “In Defense of a Loaded.

    Word” published in The New York Times states “ Words—often ironic and self-deprecating—are always spoken that take on other meanings when uttered by others.” Coates is talking about the N-word and how the black community uses it as a reminder or symbol of their history and oppression. Basically, they have the right to use it and when they do it is used in different context from how it was used in the past. Actions that are similar to how the gay community is making faggot their word; however, the history of the N-word has a far more dark and oppressive history. There is no denying that loaded words take on different meanings when used within certain contexts. Words such as faggot can be hurtful to some while giving meaning to others. People need to ask themselves before carelessly using the word: would this word be offensive to others? Clearly if it does then the best solution is to strive not to use it. Remember, words are powerful so choose yours wisely.

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