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George Orwell: Politics and the English Language

What is a language? How should one use it? What do the words we pick say about ourselves and others?

Most importantly, however, how ought we to write if we want anyone to care that we have done so?

I confess that I am sometimes guilty of breaking his rules, but Orwell offers words about all this and more. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

An Open Letter from the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program on Homophobia, Heterosexism, and Gender Violence

queerstudiesoregonstate:

We, the faculty and staff of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Oregon State University, were dismayed to read the recent article in the Daily Barometer, “Candidate Admits to Posting Anti-Gay Slurs,” in which OSU student and ASOSU presidential candidate Bret Barlow admits to being an administrator for the Facebook page, “We Burn Homosexuals for a Living,” and writing the comment, “… do we seriously burn homosexuals for a living or is this a joke? i need to know now since i have a fag tied up and im holding a can of gas and a lighter.” Barlow stated that the comments were “in poor taste” and were “a really bad joke.”


We are deeply disturbed that the torture and murder of people because of their sexual orientation could be dismissed or excused as a joke, and we encourage the campus community to take very seriously the violence and damage that language causes. To many of us at OSU, such words do not come across as a joke—in poor taste or otherwise—they come across as a threat. They poison our campus and make us feel unsafe in spaces where every one of us should be able to grow and thrive. Words have the power to incite violence, and they enact emotional and psychological violence on those whose lives, experience, and communities they target.


Homophobia, heterosexism, and transphobia are systems of oppression and violence that take place together with sexism, racism, classism, ableism, Christian supremacy, sizeism and other systems that decide—in short—who is worthy of life and who is marked for death. Violence against people because of their sexual orientations and genders is real. It happens in our homes, on the streets, and in our schools. It happens at the hands of our parents, peers, religious leaders, and the police. Just earlier this month, here in Oregon, Jessica Dutro was found guilty of murdering her 4-year-old son Zachary because she thought he “acted gay.” In March, an African American Lesbian couple— Crystal Jackson and Britney Cosby—were found dead in a dumpster in Galveston, Texas. Crystal was shot and Britney was bludgeoned to death by Britney’s father, who did not approve of his daughter’s sexuality.  And last year, also in Oregon, Jadin Bell—a 15-year-old—died after hanging himself as a reaction to homophobic bullying. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, and Queer people of color are particularly targeted by such acts of violence. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, over 73% of all victims of anti-LGBTQ murders in 2012 were people of color. Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming people are over three times as likely to experience police violence than non-Trans people, and Trans/Gender Non-Conforming people of color are 2.59% more likely to experience police violence than white non-Trans people.These are not abstract numbers: these are our friends, our children, our parents, our sisters, our brothers, our partners.


Words matter. They have the power to cause real harm to real people. They create a culture in which violence is normalized and systemic oppression against people is allowed to continue. They affect every last one of us and they tear at the community that we are all responsible for nourishing. As faculty of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Oregon State University, we oppose homophobic and transphobic violence, in both words and actions, and reaffirm our commitment to ending homophobia, transphobia, and gender violence, along with all forms of oppression. Our work is in solidarity with movements, both on and off campus, to transform our world and bring such forms of violence to a halt.


The names of our LGBTQ dead are too numerous to list here. And there are far more whose names we don’t know. But we call on the entire OSU community to remember those we have lost through homophobic and transphobic violence and to work in solidarity with LGBTQ communities and movements working for deep and lasting social change. With the ASOSU elections underway, we also call on the OSU community to seriously consider the type of student leadership that will serve ALL OSU students, with dignity and respect for our many differences.


In memoriam: Gwen Araujo, Jadin Bell, Mark Carson, Britney Cosby,  Zachary Dutro-Boggess, Steen Fenrich, Billy Jack Gaither, Sakia Gunn, Crystal Jackson, Marsha P. Johnson, Larry King, F.C. Martinez Jr, Islan Nettles, Matthew Shepard, Brandon Teena, Angie Zapata.


In Struggle,


Dr. Bradley Boovy

Assistant Professor

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

World Languages and Cultures


Dr. Liddy Detar

Instructor

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Dr. Qwo-Li Driskill

Assistant Professor

Queer Studies Advisor

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies  


Dr. Patti Duncan

Associate Professor and Coordinator

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Michael Floyd

Instructor

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Kryn Freehling-Burton

Instructor

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Dr. Janet Lee

Professor

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Dr. Ron Mize

Associate Professor

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Ethnic Studies

Director of CL@SE


Dr. Nana Osei-Kofi

Associate Professor

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Director of the Difference, Power, and Discrimination Program


Leonora Rianda

Office Manager

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Ethnic Studies


Dr. Susan Shaw

Professor

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and

Director of the School of Language, Culture, and Society


Dr. Lily Sheehan

Assistant Professor

English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Dr. Mehra Shirazi

Assistant Professor

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

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