Fag: A Discussion

Do you think it’s normal for teen boys to toss around the word “fag,” without any regard for the gravity of that word?

I don’t. I don’t think it’s normal at all – and yet, all the searching I’ve done on the matter has come up with, well, the fact that yes, it is very common.

Common doesn’t make it normal.

Personally, I hate the word ‘fag.’ It makes me angry. In my eyes, it has nearly the gravity of the N word. It’s hateful, and there’s nothing positive about it.

Yet, teen boys throw that word around as much as teen girls use the word “bitch,” “slut,” or “whore” with friends. None of which is okay, in my eyes, but then, I’m 38 and what do I know?

The Teenager has some very nice friends. They look Daren and I in the eye when they speak to us, they say please and thank you, and they always clear their own plates at our house. Of course, they also open our fridge & help themselves, but you know, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the noise of children in our house, and I love that they feel at home.

I have never heard anything worse than “A-hole” come out of any of their mouths. (Literally, “A-hole, and not the whole word. Despite my stance on allowing my kids to swear, they typically don’t.)  I hope The Teenager continues to be friends with guys like this.

At school, the word ‘fag’ is thrown around a lot. The Teenager has been called that. His friends have been called that. I’ve seen it on Facebook. I’ve heard it in the stairwell in the high school, and stopped myself from giving young boys grief about it. I really don’t think they understand what the word means to some people. Furthermore, I worry that any kid in high school who happens to be gay, will feel scared/angry/upset in the vicinity of that word.

Having said that, if you talk to teens, most of them will tell you that they don’t have a problem with gay people – that they use the words ‘gay’ or ‘fag’ to mean stupid. There was a poll done last year that suggests most teens are not offended by offensive words. They see it as joking.

Last year a young girl at college asked me if we needed our student ID to write a test. I told her yes, and she responded with,” Wow, that’s gay,” as she fished her card out of her backpack.

“Gay as in stupid?” I prompted.

“Yeah,” she answered.

“Gay doesn’t mean stupid,” I snarled. I’ve corrected strangers and friends on the use of that word, as well as “fag,” and “retard.”

I don’t correct people just to be righteous. I correct people because I can see that suicide is an epidemic. I can see that people, young and old, need more nurturing than criticism. I can see that Facebook and Twitter may not be the best way to communicate with people, and maybe more and more people are feeling isolated with this type of communication. I know there are kids in my community who spend more time on Facebook/Xbox/TV, isolated from their own families, then they do at school.

I know I don’t have all the answers.

And I guess me snarling at that girl wasn’t the right approach, but I am fed up with how people treat each other. I am fed up with the language that gets tossed around with disregard for people’s feelings.

How people treat each other starts so young. To see and hear teens throwing around these words, makes me sad. I know they do it to be part of a crowd or top dog. I know they couldn’t possibly see the weight of what they are saying and how it affects others.

I asked several moms of teenagers this morning if they thought it was common or normal for teens to use the word “fag,” and they all said yes. That kind of language is in our schools and arenas, but not allowed in their homes.

That word is not allowed in my home either. Hate speech absolutely begins at home. I know parents who use the N-word, & I’ve schooled their asses too. A couple of weeks ago, I tried to explain to a girl that she can’t go around saying “the brown people in our school need to learn English or get out of our country.”

“THAT’S WHY THEY CAME HERE. THEY’RE NEW TO CANADA. THEY ARE EXCHANGE STUDENTS!” Oh I wanted to rip my hair out.

I have heard the word ‘retard’ in college, and ranted about it until I was blue in the face. My friends KNOW how much I hate those words, and my kids know better than anyone not to use words like that. I mean, how can we change the way people feel if we don’t change the way people talk?

“That’s so gay.”

“That’s retarded.”

“Fag.”

“Dyke.”

“Slut.”

That’s hate speech, and I am NOT okay with it.

Do you say something when you hear it?

I hope you do.