I’ve written about gendered language before, and I was reminded of how it affects everyday conversation while having a beer with a friend the other day.
She was telling me about a new dress she’d purchased, and right there in the middle of a bar I said the thing that straight men are never supposed to say…
“That sounds fabulous!”
I said it because in fact, it did sound fabulous. Sometimes you need the right word for the right moment and at that moment “awesome” or “killer” just wasn’t going to do it.
I don’t think she even noticed, but I glanced up and three men in the bar apparently did because they all looked at me at the exact moment.
So I winked at them. Yeah, that sent them back into their beers pretty quickly.
Now I’m fortunate to be secure in my personhood, and I really could give a what what about what I’m supposed to say…but it got me thinking about how we understand what’s acceptable and what’s off limits, and even just what’s worth talking or thinking about at all. I wondered, how does what I see people say and do around me affect my perception about what’s ok for me to do and say…..
Have you ever met someone who moved like you? Or whose tone matched yours?
I was blown away by this post (click here) about seeing an autistic person on television for the first time (not just the standard Bones-esque “quirky easy to like possibly autistic detective/mind reader”). Those of us who aren’t autistic spend so much time unconsciously (and sometimes consciously) identifying with people in our lives and characters in the media we consume. But imagine if you had never met someone who reflected you back at you. You would wonder why you were different and if the way that you moved and talked was normal or acceptable…
That’s why it’s so important to challenge our thought process internally, and its relationship with the world around us. I’m not sure if those three guys in the bar have ever used the word before, but I hope the next time a friend asks them what they think of that sequined dress they declare “it looks absolutely fabulous” without a hint of shame.