Lady-centered. Cultural critics like to throw in the more contemporary version of “girl power” in the Online Journals I Read. I’m all for my best friend calling her girlfriend her ladyfriend. Girlfriend is a stupid word, almost as stupid as the word husband. But TV shows aren’t lady-centered. They have women as a main character. Or, you know, are about humans.
[Ed. note: Yes, lady-centered is a phrase rather than a word. No, Indy Clause does not care.]
Fiesty. Our heroine is not feisty. Feisty is outdated even for old ladies who complain a lot. The word itself is a Shakespearean artifact, for a long while only used in the Appalachians. Now it is used on the back of book covers and in book reviews. This has got to stop.
Exotic. One of the reasons DP and I are happily married (the majority of the time) is that we can be crashed out on the couch, slack jawed, watching our new sci-fi show and suddenly get into a conversation about exoticism and the other.
I dislike the word exotic because it is used as an “othering” device. Let’s take cookbooks. How many times have you seen a recipe say, “take the exotic spices and jazz up your scones” or something else ridiculous? What is this exotic spice? Cumin? Uh, cumin is the salt and pepper of many countries.
[Ed. note: Indy Clause has never made cumin scones, but now she’s curious whether they would taste good.]
The word “exotic” is a shortcut for many writers to mean “something other than my white bread American childhood” and it’s ignorant and offensive. And after some debate during the commercial break, I successfully convinced DP that exotic is offensive in terms of people and he successfully convinced me that it was okay to use in terms of plants or animals as another word for “rare.” Orchids and gingko are exotic plants/trees. And the Slow Loris.
Along the same lines: ethnic. Ethnic does not mean minority not covered by our outdated racial categories. It means the people we Americans descended from. We are all ethnic. Many of us are multiethnic.
[Ed. note: Yes, there should probably be a hyphen in the word “multiethnic.” Yes, Indy Clause would rather point that out than go back and correct it. She thinks it’s funny or something.]
“Let’s go to an ethnic restaurant” is not acceptable shorthand for “Do you want to go out to Chinese, Indian, or Thai food?”
What words do you hate?