You Won’t Believe the Phrase One Writer Says is “Offensive”
I recently read a headline so astoundingly absurd that I almost didn’t believe it. Surely I was not seriously reading what I thought I was reading? And yet, when I looked again, there it was in all its absolute ridiculousness. The headline read:
The author, I will keep his identity hidden to protect the silly, says that this phrase is offensive to single people and those with no children and, therefore, it should be removed from our vocabulary. He wrote:
“What this euphemism means is get pregnant—or try to get pregnant, or have a baby, or adopt…Start a family devalues any couple who doesn’t happen to have kids, for whatever reason.”
Now, if you can’t pick out the ways in which this statement is beyond ridiculous, let me help.
First, notice that he says this statement is offensive to couples that don’t have kids “for whatever reason.” He is implying that people who willingly choose not to have kids are offended by the choice of others to have kids. In other words, a couple that makes a conscience decision not to have kids – though they could – are offended, he says, by my choice to have kids and use the phrase “start a family.”
Second, he is asserting that any couple using the phrase “start a family” is immediately devaluing others. The problem here is that he is accusing others of judging people by judging people himself. He is assuming that every person that uses this phrase is inherently doing so from a judgmental position of superiority. The only way for him to make this statement is from a judgmental position; so he is doing what he is accusing others of doing.
Lastly, the idea that “start a family” is offensive is garbage. Can anyone recall being approached by someone offended that you and your spouse announced that you are starting a family? When is the last time you heard of someone being offended by a pregnancy announcement? Furthermore, if we scrub this phrase from our language, how exactly would we let others know we intend to…start a family?
Maybe we could simply say “we’re gonna try to have kids.” Oh, no, we can’t say that. That would be offensive to people that can’t have kids. Maybe we could say “we’re gonna add some social securities numbers to our household.” Wait, no, can’t do that either. It would be very offensive to people without social security numbers…and houses.
You see, by his logic anything we say to indicate we want to have kids and start a family would be downright offensive to someone. For that matter, now that I think about it, many statements in our culture are offensive: walk upstairs is offensive to people that can’t walk; jumping jacks is offensive to people that can’t jump (especially people named jack); smell the roses is offensive to people that can’t smell; feel the burn (or bern) is offensive to people that can’t feel anything.
By this man’s logic we should probably rethink most of what we say and perhaps consider not saying anything…ever, just to make sure we don’t offend someone.
Look, if you’re offended by phrases like “start a family” it’s probably you. There’s nothing in the phrase inherently offensive. It’s nothing more than a declaration of intent on the part of the user. If you find yourself getting offended every time someone announces his or her intentions you may want to rethink how you live life.
Of course, this could simply be another attack against the nuclear family. Our culture is rife with attacks against the family structure of a mom, dad, and their kids born to them during their monogamous marriage. Maybe this author is offended by heterosexuality, or monogamy, or kids in general, and this is his way of letting everyone know. I would have a little more respect for him if that were the case. Because if he is simply offended by the phrase “start a family” for the reasons stated in his article it is hard to take him seriously.
The author asks his readers to be “sensitive to, the world we live in.” Well, the world we live in is filled with men and women that get married and “start a family.” They bring children into the world and add to their family of two so that it becomes a family of three, or four, or five, or six. There’s nothing offensive about announcing the intention to “start a family,” it’s a joyous announcement.
If this author has looked around our world and concluded that harassing the phrase “start a family” and encouraging his readers to abandon using it is the most worthwhile thing he can do with his day, I feel sorry for him. Maybe he needs to look again.