Thursday, June 25, 2009

Eyes Wide Open: From the letter "C" to the letter "Q" and everything in between

(originally posted 4/09 at

by Talia Jae Potter

As an active student leader on my campus at PCC I have noticed quite a few interesting responses to our activities and use of words. Our director told us this job wasn't going to be easy. In fact, she straight out said it would be hard and there would be name-calling, stereotypes, and general repercussions for working at a Women's Center.

People like to take what they think they know and fill in the blanks. A center full of girls that promotes women and has clubs such as Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA) and United Sexualities? They must be a bunch of crazy lesbians who burn bras and hate men. The Vagina Monologues?? Or more likely they would say, "The uh... the .... those monologues?? What is it called??" Is the play just talking vaginas? Is it women dressed as vaginas? Are men allowed? I have actually been asked all these questions.

I could go on. Then there was the infamous "CUNT" shirt. Yes, we got quite an interesting reaction to that. I have explained in an earlier post that the word has been reclaimed by women. It began its life as a word for female genitalia, was turned into a hurtful word used by abusers to assault women, and now is being reclaimed for their own pride. Once the monologues were over the buzz about cunts died down.

Now Queer Pride Week is coming. It's Monday in fact. We have a full week of amazing activities that a few of the women advocates at my center have planned as well as a few special ASPCC students. The posters went up and the word was abuzz....

Then the emails started filtering in... the talk about the word Queer. Wow. It just ended with Cunt and now Queer. People are uncomfortable with the word Queer and they don't like it, or at least that's the feed back we are getting from fellow staff and student leaders. And so, here we go again....

Queer is a term for the LGBQT... (help me out Ellie) community that is used by some as an umbrella term to cover all sexual and gender identities and preferences. It is a word that, like cunt, has been reclaimed as a positive term for the gay community. It was, and still is, used to oppress and hurt members of this community; by taking it back they now have the pride and power to use it themselves.

What I am finding is that the people who protest these terms have no actual understanding of why they are used. I genuinely believe that they are trying to protect people and feel that we are being offensive to the groups of people the term once offended. Through education people can learn that we are giving the power back to the people--not oppressing them--and creating another key tool in fighting back against oppression.

If you would like any information on Queer Pride Week at PCC please contact the WRC at wrc@pcc.eduEyes Wide Open: From the letter "C" to the letter "Q" and everything in between

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