Thursday, 19 September 2013

Slurs.

Hey all, Hannah here again.


So at the time of writing this, I am in the middle of getting ready to move across to Glasgow to start university, so things are pretty busy at the moment! In just a couple of weeks, I’ll be meeting a tonne of new people, studying a subject of great interest to me (psychology, if anyone was wondering) and I'll finally be living close enough to the rest of the FYFTeam to allow me to do more work with them, so as you can imagine I'm pretty excited! However, it also means I'll be pretty busy for a wee while once I've settled in, so I wanted to write one last blog before I dive into student life (there will be more soon enough though!) So for this blog, I wanted to write about something that I've been observing for a while which, for many people, isn't even recognised as an issue; our society's use of language and in particular, slurs. Slurs have become part of many of our everyday vocabularies, and whilst many people may not see the problem in this, it can actually have a bigger impact than you might think.


Language has power. You only have to look at how our language has evolved over a mere a number of decades to see how it affects our day-to-day lives. This power that language holds means that words and their meanings become ingrained in our subconscious thought - rarely do we put much thought into the words we are using when conversing with others. This lack of conscious thought can lead to some people using slurs (words that refer to an individual or a group of people in a disrespectful, pejorative or insulting manner) in place of other, more appropriate words (“ugh, that’s so gay!”). This is part of a cycle of cause and effect; by using slurs in our everyday vocabulary, we are reinforcing in our own minds and the minds of others that these words are negative ones, but also that they're okay to use, furthering the problem of intolerance for the groups of people these slurs are used against.


“But I’m not actually racist/sexist/homophobic! I was only saying it for a joke, I didn't mean it in the offensive way!” This is often seen as justification for using slurs, however this attitude only adds to the problem. By using slurs and offensive language, not only are you subconsciously reinforcing the idea that to belong to a certain group of people is a negative thing, but you are ignoring the fact that the majority of people belonging to that group will find it offensive. For example, when I hear someone throwing the word “slut” around, either as an insult or as a joke, as a woman I find that offensive. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s a guy or a girl using it (in fact, it worries me more when I hear a girl use it, because it makes me think “what kind of society do we live in where girls will openly shame and disrespect other girls like that?”) or whether it is meant to offend or not, because at the end of the day, the person using it is making a number of statements to me: 1) I determine a woman’s worth by what she chooses to do with her body, 2) To be a “slut” is a bad thing and deserving of public shaming and ridicule, and 3) I don’t respect women enough to not pass judgement on what she does with her body, or to make an effort to use language that doesn’t demean women. Discrimination is not confined to actively hating a group of people or consciously doing something to offend them; we are all guilty of sometimes saying or doing things that can be considered offensive. The important thing though, is to recognise this, consider how our words and actions may be taken by others, and then change them accordingly.


Throughout history, slurs have been used to dehumanize and insult a number of different people. It is important that we respect that and take a couple of seconds to think of another word to use in place of the slur - it’s such a small action, but if everyone took this small step to challenge offensive language, the impact could change the way we as a society think about the groups of people in question, which would help massively in the fight against intolerance and prejudice.

So next time you hear from me, I will officially be a Psychology Undergraduate (!!!) but until then, peace out.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Website.

Good afternoon FYFT Followers, 


Yesterday was a really special day for the FYFTeam. After 20 months, countless cups of tea & far too many all-nighters to mention (not something we condone, kids...) we have finally LAUNCHED OUR WEBSITE!


We're incredibly excited to share it with you; both our resources & the slick design by our resident Creative Consultant & Graphic Designer, Aidan O'Rourke, who has been jazzing up our graphics and merchandise (more on that later though) with his artistic vision.

This website will be our new home on the internet, through which educators can access & download our first unit of creative, innovative educational resources based on the lessons we can learn from the Holocaust. Users will also be able to keep up to date with the FYFTeam and have access to our new tumblr page and this blog. 

Yesterday was a long time coming, so it's with some relief and a generous dollop of anticipation that we invite you to pull up a chair - as FYFT proudly presents... Your dinner. Uh, I mean, our website.


Keepin' it Tolerant,
Ben


Monday, 2 September 2013

Poland.

A pleasant morning to you, FYFT Followers!

This blog comes to you courtesy of excitement abounding, as we share with you that between the 29th of this month and the 6th October FYFT will be touring Poland!

Intended as both a research and outreach excursion, both Krakow & Warsaw are on our city hit list, and on a more sobering tour we'll be visiting Treblinka and Auschwitz & Auschwitz-Birkenau. This will be Grant and Janine's first ever visit to Poland, so I intend to be plying them with both knowledge and perogies (yep, we'll be returning a couple of stone heavier...).

Whilst in Warsaw we'll be staying with our good friend and former assistant(!) Vicky, and running workshops at the Canadian School in Warsaw. This is an outreach visit we've been anticipating and we can't wait to work with the students and teachers from the Canadian School to help spread our message of tolerance and respect. We will also be visiting the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews; a stop crucial to our research, as FYFT strongly believes one cannot understand what the world lost in the Holocaust without understanding how Polish Jewish culture enriched the world in the first place. 

 Warsaw Old City

After Warsaw we'll pop over to Krakow, which before the war had 300 synagogues and a Jewish population of 64,000 people. Despite having only a small remaining population, the Krakow Jewish Community is thriving & vivacious and on October 3rd we are honoured to be presenting at the Krakow Jewish Community Centre. This has some personal and social resonance for us given our awareness that this vivacious, active community is situated a mere 45 minutes journey from the most deadly death camp in Nazi history. We are honoured & humbled to be a part of the Jewish revival in Krakow. 

Krakow main Square



You can rest assured whilst we're away we'll keep you updated - and if you are in Krakow on the 3rd of October, we expect to see you at the JCC at 6pm sharp! 

Over and out,
Ben