“Man up.” “No homo.” “Bitch.” “That’s so gay.” These are phrases that people use so commonly that their potentially offensive connotations are so often overlooked. Hoping to address this issue, students at Duke University created the “You Don’t Say?” campaign, confronting everyday expressions that center around gender and sexual orientation.
Despite using “you” in the title, the campaign chiefly succeeds because it relies on first person statements to make a point. Rather than demanding that other people stop using these expressions, the posters feature photos of people who are offering up their thoughts on it.
“We wanted to have this idea where we listed a word, and following that word, we’d have some sort of explanation as to why people might be interested in refraining from using that word,” said Duke sophomore Daniel Kort. “We wanted to not just say that it’s not okay to use these words, but also to provide some form of justification. We also didn’t want it to come off as, ‘People shouldn’t say this,’ but instead to profile people saying, ‘In my personal endeavors, I don’t say this.’ There’s a lot of power in ‘I’ statements or ‘we’ statements. We don’t want to put words in people’s mouths, and we certainly didn’t want our actions to be taken as indicative of the entire LGBTQ community or feminist community.”
Though the posters limit the text in order to make for compelling, readable graphics, in depth explanations from some of the participants are available on the campaign’s Facebook album.
Having amassed more than 11,000 “likes,” the campaign is certainly a success in bringing attention to the topic. Facebook users have shared the photos on their own pages and productive conversations have emerged in the comments section that more thoroughly examine language usage.
While the feedback the involved students have received directly has been overwhelmingly positive, Duke sophomore Anuj Chhabra said that negative comments are welcome, too, since they help to create a more well-rounded discussion on these issues.
Admittedly, the posters aren’t convincing everyone to drop sexist and homophobic expressions from their vocabularies – many have derided the campaign for being “overly PC.” Nonetheless, the posters seem to be proving quite effective with open-minded individuals who have previously used the expressions casually. By hearing the reasoning of their peers for avoiding certain phrases, fellow students and friends come to understand these new perspectives and can amend – or not amend – their vocabularies after giving it proper consideration.
How do you feel about this campaign, Care2 community? Can you think of any other offensive phrases that you hear on a regular basis that you wish would get weeded out?
Check out a similar college social media campaign: 12 Reasons We Need Feminism