Categorist Slurs

Jump to: navigation, search

The act of creating or reproducing a equivocation where the same word is used as a “bad word” in general while also used to refer to a category of people. For example, someone who is looking for a generic insult to spit at someone may use the word “gay” (thus building a discourse built on homophobia) or “retarded” (thus building a discourse built on ableism).

Note that "reproducing" part includes defending oneself from such an accusation by distancing oneself from the group targeted by the slur. If someone accuse you of being "gay", and you defend yourself simply by insisting that you are in fact "straight" or "not gay"... they both of you are reproducing a discourse where being gay is constructed as it was something to be ashamed of.

Categorist Slurs as a facet of categorism

Something is a facet of categorism when it on some level and based on a categorization of people is an expression of prejudice, bigotry, discrimination, or some combination thereof. Categorist Slurs is always a case of bigotry on a discursive level. Note that a person using such a slur doesn't have to personally be prejudiced or bigoted. Neither against the targeted individual or against the group the slur refers to. However, if you don't hate gay people... then you shouldn't perpetuate a way of language which presents being "gay" as a bad thing. Even if you personally don't mean anything bad by it, it can still reinforce bigotry when other people hear it.

Interactions with other facets

Categorist slurs is likely to intersect with facets such as:

  • Demonization: This category is bad that enough to be a bad word...
  • Othering: The people we use as a bad word are obviously not "us", but something else.

Interactions with foci of categorism

A facet of categorism is always based on a categorization of people. For slurs to be categorist slurs, they need to target a category of people. Examples of applying this facet to a particular foci of categorism includes:

  • Homophobia: Using words such as "gay" and "faggot" as generic insults or as describing some bad way of being silly and pathetic.
  • Ableism: Using words such as "retarded", or a psychiatric diagnosis such as Asperger, to describe anyone who's way of thinking you don't like.
  • Whorephobia: Using words such as "whore", "sex worker" or "slut" as insults.

Interactions with abstractions

While a facet of categorism is always based on a categorization of people, this categorization may be problematic in itself. Categorist slurs may intersect with abstractions such as:

  • Equivocations: When we use the same word for a category of people and for a bad trait or bad behavior, it becomes easy to think that the people and the trait/behavior is the same thing. (For example: Using the word "murderer" against someone who as actually murdered someone is not a categorist slur... but expanding the term "murderer" to suddenly include everyone who doesn't share your political ideology is.)
  • Categorization by emotional bias: As we load the words with negative energy, we assume that anyone we like wouldn't belong to the targeted category while anyone we dislike do belong to it.

Categorist Slurs in example texts