Middle school can be really complicated. Friendships shift. A lot. Every few weeks it can feel like all the social rules are changing. The opinions of our friends often rule our lives, and our group of friends may sway us to say and do things that individually we may never do. This includes the use of slang, cursing and “playful insults.”
Did you ever get your feelings hurt by someone who said she was “just teasing” you? Sometimes terrible things are said as jokes. When we are in a group of friends, we may feel pressure to call someone a name that in another situation we would never do. The message of words an get muddled when we use nasty language on people who are supposed to be our friends. In fact, the whole meanings of words can change when we use them because we are afraid of being mocked or shunned if we don’t.
What am I talking about? You know…those so-called “friendly phrases” girls often use to greet each other like, “What’s up. Ho?” or “What’s up B—-?” Have you ever been greeted in such a way? How did it make you feel? Truthfully.
Perhaps you felt included, even empowered for a moment or two. These phrases are said with confidence from a “let’s take it back” mentality. But doesn’t Ho or the “B” word mean the same thing no matter where or when it is said? Don’t these words simply continue the negative labeling of girls? The insults behind those words leave us feeling badly, deep down, even if we don’t tell anyone. At least that’s how I felt when those words were used on me as in a “friendly” way.
Wouldn’t it be more empowering to be greeted with compliments that come from love and respect? Respecting each other is the real way to “take it back” and change the way our words label people. Being called names doesn’t feel good, even when the names are said by friends…ESPECIALLY when the names are said by friends who are supposed to care about you. So why do “friends” adopt this very unfriendly way of greeting each other? I don’t know.
But I do know that no one wants to be seen as a Ho or a b****. Those aren’t compliments. They are degrading, hurtful words. A true friend wouldn’t use them on us, right?
I once heard a woman greeting babies in a coffee shop. She told each and every child, “You are special and important.” Now THAT’S empowering!