Broken BonesPosted: June 4, 2015
The adolescent chant about sticks and stones has it all wrong. Very few would argue that words have never hurt them.
Because words are powerful. They’re the reason we read, the reason we write. They combine in so many ways, and every way comes with a new meaning. By replacing a single word in a sentence or phrase, the sense can alter from praise to admonishment.
This morning I heard a phrase on the radio that struck me somewhat differently than it has every other time I’ve heard it: just a man. Today I listened to it, let it bounce around in my head until this post was halfway written.
Because just a man is night and day when compared to just a woman.
Just a man is excusive. By using this three-word combination, he’s saying so much more than three words.
I know my masculinity causes you to expect infallibility, possibly invincibility. Alas, due to the unbelievable coincidence of circumstances beyond my manly control, today I do not live up to my divine intentions.
Just a man means still better than a woman. Just a man means second only to omnipotence. Just a man is not deprecation in the slightest. It’s a boys’ club chuckle, an inside joke.
On the other hand, just a woman is a dismissal.
That poor thing, she thought she was a worthwhile human being. Such a pity.
Just a woman means we didn’t expect anything more of her. Just a woman means a second class citizen who didn’t know her place. Just a woman is an unabashed guffaw at an attempt to be as good as just a man.
Even in innocent hands, words are weapons.