The W Word

Dear Terrence,

You have a mother — that goes without saying. Basic biology. You might even have a sister. Again, basic biology. You probably have a girlfriend, and we might even chalk that up to basic biology. (On second thought…) You have female teachers and cousins, aunts and a grandmother or two. You’re surrounded by women.

Why in the world would you call a girl a whore, then?

Would you like someone to call your mother that? Your sister? Aunt? Grandmother? Probably not, not even in jest as you claim about your comment. You would consider that to be just cause for a fight.

On second thought, perhaps you have seen your mother that. Perhaps your father or your mother’s boyfriend speaks to her in those misogynistic terms. Perhaps you even refer to her in such derogatory terms. Maybe you just picked it up from the hip-hop you are constantly spouting out as you walk down the hall, sit in your seat, talk with your friends.

Somewhere, though, you came to believe it is socially acceptable. It is not. And trust me: one day you’re going to say something like that to a young lady with a father or brother who will, as you would, consider those to be fighting words and will do everything in his power to make you think twice about calling his daughter or sister something similar.

Hopefully, though, you’ll have grown up before you meet such a man. That way, you’ll either have realized the ridiculousness and hurtfulness of calling women such things, or you’ll be big enough at least to put up a fight. (You’ll still lose: vengeance releases a lot of adrenaline, which makes for a blind fury that can be hard to defend against.)

With a growl in my voice as I think of my own daughter,
Your Teacher

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