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The Language Of The Other

Othering” is a pretty basic psychological trick used to create distance between people. “We are different from them.” “They aren’t like us.” “Those people.”

Its use ranges from the absurd to the serious. Sitcoms use to to poke fun at just how different men and women are. Racists use it to justify their hatred. The Nazis used it.

Othering is almost a verbal tic that creeps into our language whenever we want to separate some bad opinion we have from the person who falls into the category of owning the trait but whom we want to separate from it.

But it happens in everyday conversation as well. During a discussion I was having with a friend about watching sports, he repeatedly said “those people” referring to those people who watch professional sports. I replied, more than once, that it wasn’t “those people.” It was me to which he was referring. The negative attributes he was associating with the fans of professional sports didn’t belong to some amorphous blob of people, but to me, as a sports fan, who he was looking in the eye.

Othering is a cop out. It allows the speaker to say negative things without directly calling out the people they are accusing. It’s hard to say to someone you know that you attribute negative qualities to them. It’s much easier to exempt the people around you from the accusation. It happens on a personal level too.

A work, a subordinate was dissatisfied with my performance and wrote an email to my supervisor citing “a failure of leadership” and “the decision made by the leadership.” Though, clearly, I was the leadership they were referring to, they never cited me by name.

It’s easy to hate people when you think of them as not like you. As not yourself. As less than you.
 
 
 


When Body Positivity Isn’t Positive

I had an ex-boyfriend once describe me as “pop princess.” (Side note: My hairdresser called me a “blood fucking princess” the last time I got my hair cut. That’s a lot of princess accusations for someone who hates all things pink and sparkly.)

It’s true. My taste in music is heavily in the Top 40 camp. I’ve got Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Iggy Azalea and Demi Lovato in heavy rotation. So, of course, I’ve been listening to a lot of Meghan Trainor.

It’s a catching song. But, in a way Ke$ha’s don’t, the lyrics rub me the wrong way. It’s supposed to be body positive. But instead, it focuses on the fact that “boys like a little more booty to hold at night.” Welcome to missing the entire point of feminism. I’m bothered by the “skinny bitches” line as well.

Lo and behold, it seems like I’m not the only one. Though I’ve seen plenty of commentary on the song from feminist circles, I think this random guy who reviews pop music literally in a shadow does a damn good job articulating everything that is right and wrong with the song.




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