Saturday Symposium: Forced Language

Hello, Readers. Thanks for another awesome week of discussion and email feedback. The points you’ve raised this week have given us many new ideas for posts. We would like to remind you that if you have a specific idea for a topic you would like to see us address, you can send that through our Ask Us! form. We hope the weather is nice where you are–we are eager for springtime!

It’s time now for a new “Saturday Symposium” question.

How this works: It’s very simple. We ask a multi-part question related to a topic we’ve blogged about during the past week or are considering blogging about in the near future, and you, our readers, share your responses in the comments section. Feel free to be open, reflective, and vulnerable…and to challenge us. But as always, be mindful of the comment policy that ends each of our posts. Usually, we respond fairly quickly to each comment, but in order to give you time to think, come back, add more later if you want, and discuss with other readers, we will wait until after Monday to respond to comments on Saturday Symposium questions.

This week’s Saturday Symposium question: This week, Lindsey offered a reflection on The Language Police. We also released a post that discussed how married people define marriage and gave one reason (of many) why we do not conceive of our relationship as a marriage. Both of these posts touched on the issue of language: how people describe themselves and how we use language to describe other people, even if that language isn’t their preferred set of words. We ask our readers: has there ever been a time when you have felt that certain words, terms, or language in general has been forced upon you by others? What was your reaction to this? What do you think is the best way to respond when other people try to assign language to you that doesn’t feel appropriate for your circumstances?

We look forward to reading your responses. If you’re concerned about having your comment publicly associated with your name, please consider using the Contact Us page to submit your comment. We can post it under a pseudonym (i.e. John says, “your comment”) or summarize your comment in our own words (i.e. One person observed…). Participating in this kind of public dialogue can be risky, and we want to do what we can to protect you even if that means we preserve your anonymity. Have a wonderful weekend!


Sarah and Lindsey

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4 thoughts on “Saturday Symposium: Forced Language

  1. Your language post really made me think about how I label myself and others. I espicially found the idea of pronoun usage challanging. I can’t quite get my head around it. But this week, as a baby step in my attempt to explore labels, I began an experiment with my twitter account. I still tweet as myself, but I changed and deleted a few things in order to minimize my gender identity. I wanted to see how folks would interact with me. I don’t like the trend I am seeing. I don’t like the fact that some people are interacting more frequently with me because they “see” me now that I have opened the door to abiguity and they have stepped in and labeled me according to their worldview. I don’t like the fact that the number of followers increased dramatically after my change, and began to decrease a few days later when I purposefully began retweeting gender specific posts. I have said here before that I cherish the labels with which I identify, so I find myself experiencing a visceral reaction when folks identify me as something other than I see myself. Right now I am attempting to prayerfully discern what this means… For me and for those with whom I minister.

    • Thanks for your comment. Managing how different people react with you on Twitter can be illuminating. People are quick to assign all sorts of identity markers from just a few words.

    • We’ve definitely run into multiple members of the language police. Some of these encounters have taken place in person. Occasionally, we’ve tried to correct language. Yet, when language policing occurs in person, it’s very tempting to seek a way out whether through silence, changing the subject, or removing oneself from the conversation all together.

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