"Right now, in almost every river in the world, some 12,000 different species of caddisfly larvae wriggle and crawl through sediment, twigs, and rocks in an attempt to build temporary aquatic cocoons. To do this, the small, slow-moving creatures excrete silk from salivary glands near their mouths which they use like mortar to stick together almost every available material into a cozy tube. A few weeks later a fully developed caddisfly emerges and almost immediately flies away."
Since the 1980s Duprat has been collecting caddisfly larvae from their normal environments and transporting them to aquariums in his studio. There he gently removes their own natural cocoons and puts the larvae in tanks filled with materials such as pearls, beads, opals, turquoise and pieces of 18-karat gold. The insects still do exactly what comes naturally to them, but in doing so they create exquisite gilded sculptures that they temporarily call home. If you saw them out of context, you’d never guess they’d been created insects.
I rarely enage in conversation on the internet—this goes double for debate. As a student of social justice with a proactive disposition, I don’t feel like my best interactions will ever happen with stangers in internet-land. However, as we all know, this is not always avoidable.
I recently commented on a Facebook post. It was a “friend” who put up a humorous picture of someone who had written into their newspaper complaining about school curriculum. This person was concerned that the “gay agenda” was taking hold of classrooms when they learned that their grandson had learned about Homo Sapiens in school. It was funny. It was posted with the intention of being funny. My gut reaction? “Uhhhhh..”, and that is exactly what I wrote. My friend adds an innocuous comment mirroring the absurdity of the claim.
And then it happened.
Another party…a stranger to myself…playfully suggested the “God damn f*gg*t liberals are at it again.”
Gut reaction? “^^That’s not a great word to make casual use of.^^”
Result: Onslaught of defense.
Apparently, if we don’t say words we only give them power.
Apparently, as long as we don’t direct them at a person they are fine to use.
Apparently, if you are straight, white, and cisgender you can still be called racial, gender, and orientation based slurs.
I did not know the people advising me on this matter, but I made some assumptions based on the information immediately available on their own profiles. I was the only woman. I was the only genderqueer. I was the only lesbian. I was the only one who still needed to get over the use of the word f*gg*t.
So, with all this being said, I would like to admit that I have learned something. This next statement goes out to those folks, and all those before and after them, who have taught me a little about the language of opression: The next time I am denied work, denied rights, denied basic human decency; the next time I am made to feel unsafe; the next time one of those so-called innocent words is hurled my direction in a violent situation—I’ll remember your feelings. I’ll remember to lighten up. I’ll think of you.
There’s no point to a guy yelling, “Hey sexy baby” at me out of the passenger window of a car as it speeds past. Even if I was into creepy misogynists and wanted to give him my number, I couldn’t. The car didn’t even slow down. But that’s okay, because he wasn’t actually hitting on me. The point wasn’t to proposition me or chat me up. The only point was to remind me, and all women, that our bodies are his to stare at, assess, comment on, even touch. “Hey sexy baby” is the first part of a sentence that finishes, “this is your daily message from the patriarchy, reminding you that your body is public property”.