Sticks and stones may…Language can perpetuate oppression

By By Stephanie Glaittli

By Stephanie Glaittli

Our silence and complacency about violence is fostering its growth, Debra Daniels, director of the Women’s Resource Center, said at the Seeds of Violence lecture Oct. 17.

Daniels’ keynote address kicked off the center’s program to sponsor events throughout the week that increase awareness about violence in the community.

The community needs to start a dialogue about violence and acknowledge that it often comes in less obvious, but still harmful, forms, she said.

Daniels has worked as the assistant director of the YWCA of Salt Lake City and as director of client services at the Rape Recovery Center.

“We see violence in our lives on a day-to-day basis, and we can recognize it, but there are other times when we don’t recognize violence so readily,” Daniels said. “You must challenge how you look at violence.”

Violence can be found in the subtlest places, Daniels said, including in the language and words we use to communicate. Commonly used words can be filled with racial, sexual and ethnic discrimination that “strip humanity,” she said.

“Some people believe the dialogue about violence is overkill and that we take certain behaviors and language too seriously,” Daniels said. “They say it isn’t their battle, that they have to choose their battles…but they are choosing to allow oppression of individuals.”

Language is just another form of keeping people in their place and becomes another beating stick, she said.

People with social and economic privilege have a particular responsibility to stand up for those who feel invisible, she said.

Daniels said she believes everyone should “cast a broad net” to encompass all those affected by violence and to really listen to their stories because “it is hard to hate someone whose story you know,” she said.

“The lecture was a good experience,” Adelina Dover, a sophomore in communication, said. “She looked at violence in a way I never looked at violence.”

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