Why Language Matters!

“Violent.” “Sickening.” “Disgusting.” “Inhuman.” These are all words regularly used by prominent media sources to stigmatize and mislead on the reality of abortion. Such words are often used to smear and shame women who exercise the right to an abortion. Language around abortion is important, it helps to place our conversations within a rights based framework and to combat abortion stigma perpetuated by popular Media. Re-emphasisng the significance of language in our discourse and advocacy; starting this month we will be re-posting an interesting series that our Coordinator Suchitra Dalvie wrote sometime back- the word of the month column. This column will analyze the significance of the words we use in advocacy. Here’s a blog about why she thinks Language matters!

Words are powerful. Language matters. What we say is shaped by our thoughts, ideas, attitudes, perceptions, reactions. In turn, what we say can shape our own behavior and actions and also influence that of others.

feminism_definitionWe need to articulate what we think and feel and want to do or want to happen. We need to respond to those who say things or do things that we oppose, object to or resent. We need to stand up for what we believe in and for this we need words. The right words– which define concepts, which name people and thoughts and deeds for what they are or lead us into awareness of what they ought to be.

All of us engaged in advocacy need to have our voices strengthened by the power of the right word. Language enriches and shapes our discourse. Language can be used to powerfully interpret laws and policies and judgments but it can also be used to hide, obfuscate and render them weak.

pro-choiceMoreover, the truth is the truth even if only one person is speaking it. So, we need a powerful language in which we can express this truth!

At ASAP we thought we would take a small step in exploring certain concepts which are key to our work in safe abortion, within the larger spectrum of sexual and reproductive rights, women’s rights and human rights.

These words are often thrown around by the media, by politicians, by other advocates and there are some words which we need to reclaim and redefine and empower ourselves with.

Do send  us a list of your favourite words or even better, send us a small write up ( just a paragraph will do), and we will publish it on our blog !

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About Shweta Krishnan

Shweta Krishnan was the Communication and Networking Officer For the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership between June 2012 and March 2014. She is a feminist writer with a background in medicine, and has a strong commitment to promoting sexual and reproductive rights for all.
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