Words hold a special place in our world. They’re the building blocks of language, and by extension our culture. Arguably, they’re one of the most powerful tools ever invented by humans.
Without words we wouldn’t be here today, and you wouldn’t be reading this anyway. To a large extent, the way our languages are shaped defines our culture.
That’s one of the reasons why I pay attention to the trending terms. It helps me judge myself and those around me better. And it also shows me where humanity is heading.
There are certain terms I come across regularly which make me curl up and punch my guts from the inside out. These gut-wrenching terms are especially popular in online debates and speeches given by “eminent” personalities.
Here are some of the top cringeworthy terms I’ve come across.
This one is the first on my list because even I’m guilty of using it blatantly in the not-too-distant past.
Being ‘Politically Correct’ (or PC) carries negative connotations, since it implies that people aren’t willing to say what they actually mean and feel. If you’re being PC, you’re being socially manipulative. It’s an outright insult. That’s the popular perception of it.
It’s not uncommon to hear sentences like “political correctness has gone out of control” and “political correctness is snatching away our freedom of speech.”
It took me a while to understand the subtle machinations behinds its usage.
Whenever someone accuses you of being politically correct, what they’re mostly implying is that you’re refusing to take a bigoted stance openly. However, in the accuser’s mind, the “bigoted stance” is not really bigoted; it’s just a normal way of how life works.
This also extends to them saying they don’t want to be politically correct (or support PC culture). It reeks of privilege ignorance.
In truth, being politically correct (as it’s used today) is a highly humanistic position. It’s less about self-censorship and more about being thoughtful.
By not offending or disadvantaging a marginalized group, you’re being inclusive and encouraging an atmosphere where everyone is free to participate without any hesitations.
It’s not just my anecdotal view either.
However, I’d like to point out that the accusations of being “politically correct” hold true in some cases.
For example, if I’m criticizing radical Islam, and a non-Muslim accuses me of Islamophobia (or furthering anti-Muslim sentiment), it’s clearly a case of soft bigotry of lowered expectations.
I’m passively forced to tone done my views based on the religion I’m criticizing; the same religion I hail from. The origin of the Regressive Left can be traced back to this type of behaviour.
A portmanteau of sick and secular, this is one of the most popular insults for people who’re inclined towards secularism in India.
You must wonder how can striving for secularism, which is a positive ideal, be bad?
Well, you must understand that secularism in India is vastly different from how it is in the west. Instead of separation of state and church (i.e. government and religion), Indian constitution recognizes and grants all religions equal rights.
Political parties use this to their advantage and have successfully leveraged it to create vote banks.
Considering the fact that India isn’t truly secular, the term sickular seems justified. However, almost always “meaning is use,” and sickular’s usage is restricted to instances where only minority religions are involved.
Since political parties like Congress and their ilk don’t conform strictly to the Hindutva brigade, they’re seen as sickular. As a corollary, anyone who doesn’t support Hindutva politics is also termed sickular.
This is a bit surprising because Congress’ version of secularism is even tamer than what’s defined in the Indian Constitution. It’s majorly geared towards causing least harm. In some instances, their views and policies fall in line with the Hindutva brigade itself.
As a case in point, the act of banning beef on religious grounds isn’t considered sickular. But trying to accommodate Muslims, in whatever little way, is considered sickular.
It’s an exceptional form of hypocrisy. The main goal is to posture secularism as a negative ideal to strive for.
Related terms: Pseudo-secular, Minority appeasement, Anti-national
Once again, a creative portmanteau of two different terms: press and prostitute.
This isn’t an Indian-specific term per se. Its origins are foreign, but Indians are prone to inherit the worse of western culture; this term being just one of them.
It’s believed that prostitutes sell their bodies for money (they don’t actually “sell”). Thus, a presstitute is a journalist who’s sold their character to the highest bidder, usually a large corporation or a political party.
But why is prostitute being used in a negative sense? They serve exactly what they advertise, just like every other trader in the market. There’s no false advertising here, whether you’re against it or not.
This itself shows the inherent bigotry of the those calling journalists presstitutes. Just look at how the likes of Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose and Rajdeep Sardesai are hounded. Whatever differences you might have with them or their work, there’s no reason to get personal or even physical.
However, the cringeworthiness of this term does not come solely from its meaning itself, but how it’s used.
Even journalists who’re against anti-establishment, crony capitalism, and political debauchery are subjected to this term’s humiliation.
Why? Because religious nationalism has gripped Indians’ hearts. It’s way out of control now, and I’m afraid there’s no looking back.
You can go ahead and just call it Muslim Appeasement, because that’s what this term really means.
Not Sikh Appeasement. Not Jain Appeasement.
Any nudge towards granting Muslims equal rights, the same rights as those enjoyed by the majority (typically Upper Caste Hindus), is termed as minority appeasement.
In fact, equal rights need not to be granted at all, but just hinted at. That’s enough to have this term thrown at you like it’s an insult.
Heck, even asking for social reform against Muslim discrimination is termed minority appeasement.
Even when there’s an “appeasement” of some sort, like the Shah Bano case, it doesn’t really help the Muslim community. Clearly, Shah Bano (a Muslim woman) was the victim of a Hindu-majority party’s appeasement politics.
Also, allowing Muslim men to pray in public (like Hindus), or Muslim women to wear hijab/burqa, is not appeasement. It doesn’t really help Muslims in any real away apart from safeguarding their religious identity.
And don’t get me started on the Haj subsidy. Another farce by the Indian government.
The claim of appeasement is a façade. There’s no ground reality supporting it.
With the politics around minority appeasement, Congress and its allies fool Muslims into believing that they’re actually supportive of them.
This farcical stance is taken advantage of by BJP and its communal allies to drum up support against Muslims. Ask any middle class Hindu and they’ll tell you that Muslims have it extremely easy here in India, while reality is far from truth.
What would the Muslim community as a whole really gain by the government restricting minorities within the Muslim community (women, LGBT, ex-Muslims, etc.)?
This impedes reforming Islam, and as a result ends up hurting Muslims even more.
Women make up almost 50% of the Muslim population. And Islam, like almost every other religious doctrine, is misogynist at its core. It seriously needs reform.
That’s one of the major reasons why Muslims are backwards in almost every socio-economic indicator.
I blame both the Congress and the BJP for this pathetic situation.
“Despite the so-called ‘minority appeasement’, there is not a single area of life where Muslims are favoured; not in government services, educational institutions, armed forces, the media, private business or public sector. In fact, Muslims have not made any gains as Muslims. Their educational, economic and social backwardness has continued as before… For example, the representation of Muslims in the government services is 4.5 per cent in Class I, II and 6 per cent in Class III and IV. Their share of employment in the corporate sector is even less.” – Bipan Chandra, Communalism: A Primer
Related terms: Minorityism
A pejorative term for feminists who’re perceived to be radical or extreme in their advocacy of feminism. Alternatively, it’s used to describe all feminists.
Rush Limbaugh is credited with popularizing the term in the ‘90s.
It has one major use: to silence women from speaking out against patriarchy, strict gender roles, women’s rights, and even life in general.
Conflating feminism, a liberation movement, with Nazism, a hateful fascist ideology which suppresses human rights, is ignorant on so many levels. It’s meant to demonize feminists by comparing them with mass murderers.
Unlike other sexist terms like bitch, slut, and whore, feminists can’t even embrace the term feminazi due to its past connotations with totalitarian regimes.
People who use this term will usually say that they’re not really against feminists or women’s rights; that’s actually a win for feminism.
They’re also prone to saying that it’s not just women who suffer; men have it even worse in many situations they claim.
They’ll also say that third wave feminists are nothing like their predecessors and are too militant in their activism; even it means just speaking out against society’s inherent sexism.
Don’t fall for any of these arguments. None are backed up by much evidence. They rely solely on anecdotal observations through privileged lenses.
Related terms: Mangina, White Knight, Egalitarian, Militant feminists
SJW stands for Social Justice Warrior. It’s a popular slur hurled at someone who opposes any form of bigotry, be it sexism, racism, classism, nationalism, casteism, etc.
SJW is an insult not because of what it literally means, but the way it’s used.
It’s especially popular among dudebros who digitally hi-five each other after making fun of someone taking a hard stance against bigotry.
As with most bigoted terms, I have no idea why someone who fights for social justice should feel bad about being one. It’s good to be a warrior for social justice, right? Well, I’m proud of it, aren’t you?
Only if you’re an asshole would you think it’s not, or make fun of those who do. The world is already anti-justice as it is; we don’t need these bigots to discourage the few who’re at least trying to make it a better place.
If I had to guess, I’d say many who use this term don’t even know why they’re doing so, and yet feel cool about it. It’s kind of a meme which has run wild.
One great thing about SJW (and feminazi) is that it’s easier to identify assholes and stay away from them.
Related terms: Triggered
If you know any other terms which are as cringeworthy as the ones mentioned above, please share them in the comments below.