New Life In the Active Voice — Nobody Should Be A Victim*

The use of language perpetuates
and reinforces stereotypes.

(SLAM! BAM! After he hit her, he said,
“Thank you, maam.”)

When speaking of “violence against women”
(itself a problematic passive voice
phrase without even a reference
to men doing the violence, which, of
course, they do)…

the grammatical voice is usually
(excuse me; I’m sorry; will you
forgive me; it’s my fault) passive
(XX was raped by XY.) which subtly
reinforces the image of victimization
and weakness.

(I’m so ashamed. I must have done
something to cause him to push his
fist up you know where, and
also there, you know.)

Also “Fifteen women were harassed
by XY and XY and XY and even more,
you know,” the women were being
acted on not acting.

If describing encounters
in the active voice (XX fought
valiantly against her would-be
rapist XY and XX slapped XY’s hand
away as he reached for her privates,
“Who the hell do you think you are,”
as she reached for the mace and
aimed at his face, “Want to try
that again, Little Elvis?),

the female XX is no longer being
described as a victim and weak
but standing up for herself.

Women are taking on life in the active voice
and we all better start listening, boys.

Then he thought about his college
English prof who was beaten up by his
male partner.

Okay, living in the active
voice transcends gender;
we all need to live in
the active voice affirming
ourselves and others.

*idea from writing by Jackson Katz, Ph.D

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