thenews.com.pk 19 Sep, 2020 21:15 am

The language of oppression

The language of oppression
Even if the results of linguistic engineering are mixed, we should try to end or reduce the oppression inherent in certain words or assemblages in everyday use

In the recent rape case on a road (whether Ring Road or the Lahore-Sialkot Motorway is not relevant), many commentators are guilty of committing what I can only describe as ‘verbal oppression’, that is, the use of words, or rather a discourse, which cause a person(s) to feel belittled, disgraced, humiliated or endangered.Even if the results of linguistic engineering are mixed, this does not mean we should not deliberately try to end or reduce the oppression inherent in certain words we use.The language of punishment in this and similar cases is also part of verbal aggression and comes out of the medieval, patriarchal worldview.However, the root of the matter is the patriarchal, medieval, misogynist mindset we have not only inherited but have also actively promoted through our mindless parroting of the medieval discourse of punishment, blaming and shaming the victim.

This worldview dominates our society even now so that such words are used for women in matters pertaining to their choice of marriage partners and the clothes they choose to wear.Similarly, though the term karo is used for promiscuous men in Sindhi, men are let off more easily than women in such matters.

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