Kudos to Brendan O’Neill of The Spectator of London for producing a comprehensive guide to self-checking privilege. Wish I had thought of this. You owe it to yourself not only to read the whole thing, but to bookmark it for frequent reference and to look forward to annual revisions (because who knows what terms will become off limits in coming months and years). Here’s a couple of my favorites from the roster:
B is for bitch. Perfect example of a word some can say but others can’t. For a sassy chick to refer to herself and her girl pals as ‘bitches’ is cool; for a rapper with metal teeth it is rampant misogyny. To find out if you’re allowed to utter this word, put your hand in your underpants. Is there a penis? You can’t say it. If you do you’re the other B: bigot.
G is for gender. Never assume to know gender. Someone might look and sound like a man, and even wear a beard and possess a penis, but ‘he’ might identify as a woman, which is his/her/their right. Who are you, or nature, to say whether someone is male or female or something else entirely? Facebook now has 71 gender choices. The City University of New York recently banned the words ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ from ‘all types of correspondence’ with students in order to prevent the faux pas of wrongly guessing a student’s gender ID. Ask everyone you meet: ‘What gender pronouns should I use when referring to you?’
J is for jokes. Don’t tell them. It’s too risky. Rape jokes, Holocaust jokes, sexist jokes, banter-based jokes — you might find them funny but others will experience them as a threat to their mental safety. Learn from the Dapper Laughs debacle: a wicked joke can hurt thousands and end your career.
This one I learned about first hand (so to speak—can you say “first hand” without possibly insulting the subculture of. . . never mind):
L is for LGBTQQIAAP. No, not a place in Wales — an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, allies and pansexual. If you’re the kind of person who says ‘gays’, or even worse, ‘the gays’, stop it at once and learn this by heart.
R is for racist. You’re a racist. I know you think you aren’t, which is sweet, but you are. Everyone is. By this point, we should all know about ‘unwitting racism’ — being racist without realising it. The solution? Racial sensitivity training for all. Stop racism by encouraging nationwide racial consciousness.
As I say, RTWT. And then try posting this article on a college bulletin board and see how fast you get hauled up for hate speech charges.