While I am an equal-opportunity venter, I tend to generally steer clear of politics here because there are already so many venues for people to shove their political beliefs onto the world. Why add another? But today I will make a slight exception and harp on something that ferociously grates my nerves.
A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook that, for some reason, I took the time to read. The writer used the word “transphobic” to refer to people who don’t fully embrace transgender people.
Well, let’s just stop right there. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to spiral downward into an daffy discussion about bathrooms. I am just fed up with people misusing the English language. Does anyone own a dictionary anymore?
Phobia is defined as an intense fear of something. Synonyms include horror, dread, terror, and loathing.
Tacking “phobia” onto “trans” assumes that people who don’t embrace transgender people are afraid of them. But not liking something doesn’t mean you hate or fear it.
Phobia and phobic are suddenly America’s favorite pet words. Homophobic, transphobic, you name it, phobic has been grafted onto it. It’s come to mean something other than what it actually means. Instead of its dictionary meaning, it’s come to mean “you don’t agree with me, so you are wrong.”
I have my own mind and can formulate my own opinions. Many of those opinions, if not most, do not align with society’s don’t-offend-certain-groups bullshit spinelessness. The issue is, my and anyone else’s disagreement with those pre-approved opinions have been twisted into the accusation that we hate, loathe, despise a certain group of people, hold deep-seated bias, and apparently, are secretly plotting their gruesome demise.
No one is required to embrace homosexuality, or men wearing women’s clothes, or women who believe they should have been born male. Not supporting these things is not inevitably equated with hate or fear. I can dislike something and not support it, and not feel malice or fear about it. I can not agree with something, and that difference of opinion not originate from anger or hatred or terror. I simply don’t like it. Hell, I don’t like brussels sprouts or people who say “literally” too much, but I am not afraid of them and don’t hate them.
By tossing around “phobic” defensively, people attempt to cut off any discussion of any opinion other than their own, and brand anyone who thinks differently as wrong, barbaric, angry. I believe there is a reason for that. Many people are puppets to what society has told them to believe, what to think, what to accept, and they mindlessly parrot the socially acceptable rhetoric but have no idea how they truly feel about any of it, have devoted no time to critically thinking about any of it on their own, so they need to instantly and desperately shut down any possibility of discussion of these issues, because excavating into their photocopied and cloned thought processes will reveal that there is nothing of worth to find.
I don’t need to agree with you. You don’t need to agree with me. No one is phobic of a damn thing just because they hold a differing opinion. Calling someone phobic for not holding your opinion is a cheap and easy way to put that person down and perch smugly on your self-righteous high horse, rescued from any intellectual dissection of your own words or thoughts.
The most butchered, savagely misused, and mangled word lately, though, is tolerance. The dictionary definition is the willingness to allow the practice and occurrence of something, without interference, in particular the existence of opinions or behaviors that one does not necessarily agree with. It does not mean a homogeneous, one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter opinion forced upon the many by a few, with all outliers subject to finger-pointing, insults, and accusations.
Underlying all of this nonsense seems to be a real fear, that of people willing to say “I don’t agree with you.” Shutting down discussion of varying opinions by labeling people as hate-mongers is moronic, mindless, and childish, at best. Dismissing all other’s opinions as biased or prejudiced simply to erode their credibility and refuse to hear them is counterproductive and asinine. It leaves me thinking that perhaps the only ones with phobias in this arena are those terrified of differing opinions and of people willing to critically and honestly confront and debate them.