Jun. 17th, 2013

I recently used the term "thin-skinned" to describe the type of person who objects to any expression of disagreement as a "personal attack," or perhaps just plain objects to it. Moreover, I did this on an Adacamp mailing list, which has rules about appropriate language

I wasn't being very careful in my language, and the result was an email with links to several articles on the abuse of the term "thin-skinned" from a feminist perspective and similar issues. Here's the link collection, for context.

http://infotrope.net/2009/08/05/action-and-reaction-on-avoiding-offense/
http://geekfeminism.org/2010/04/21/quick-hit-on-thick-skin/
http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/I'm_sorry_if_you_were_offended
http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Over-sensitive

This is all good stuff, and in the context where it was pointed out to me, it was spot on. I had sent an email inviting people to this blog, and I was so afraid of being flamed/dissed/excluded/regarded as incorrigible/not liked/etc. that my subconscious served up belittling language to attack/marginalize the (so far imaginary) people I was afraid of - and I, who claim to be a competent writer, didn't catch it at the proof-reading stage, since it was "only an email" - to a feminist list, no less. Can I have some ketchup with my crow, please?

But something about this incident bugs me.

First of all, we all know there are people who object to any expression of disagreement with them, using whatever language seems likely to be effective. They may claim "personal attack" or "political correctness" or "racism" or accuse their opponent of anything from "communism" to "nazism." The goal is generally to silence one's opponents, sometimes to establish dominance, and/or to enjoy belittling/humiliating/marginalizing them.
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