Disrupting The Narrative, Or: Sluts for The Removal of Derogatory Language


About a year ago someone replied to me on Twitter and told me that I said like too much. You know you’ve really made it when things like this start happening, like, all the time.

Continuing my discussion of narratives, I wanted to talk about disrupting narratives. Don’t be afraid of the scary big words. I’ll break it down for you like you’re a really baller five year old.

Our brain really likes things that are predictable, it makes our brains really happy. When something is predictable (music! food! nature!) our brains give little electrical shows of approval. (We also like things that are new, unusual, or complicated, shhhh!) We create short-cuts in our brains that allow us to kind of autocomplete scenarios. This helps us make sense of the world. If someone is really knowledgeable and they like to read a lot and they have a college degree, all of those pieces fit together. It makes sense. If, one day, this person sits down and farts and sticks a Cheeto up their nose and tells you about the latest episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians in leetspeak, you’re going to have a hard time accepting this into your known idea of who this person is. They have disrupted the narrative.

This is a really horrible example because disrupting narratives is actually pretty dangerous. A woman who someone reads as masculine, but wears high heels out in public, could get assaulted for disrupting the narrative of “what a man is supposed to be.” Happens all. the. time. And frankly, the way I learned narrative disruption was entirely based in gender studies. But the idea can be applicable in so many ways.

We disrupt the narrative constantly. People are not stories with predictable beginnings, middles, and ends.

How can you confront the fallout from a world that tells you “you’re not behaving in the way I’ve come to expect you to behave?”

My favorite is using the both/and concept. I don’t need to explain this one in any great depth because it’s pretty simple. It means you can be both one thing, and something else. I can be a feminist who loves makeup. I can call myself a slut and write lyrical prose about how this damaging language is based in patriarchal myths about womanhood. I can go my entire life saying that creamer is disgusting and then start putting creamer in my coffee. Sorry, I’m human. I am capable of holding two contrary opinions at the same time and I’m even more capable of changing my mind. Often, all the time.

I could say something today, have someone interpret it in a completely different way than I meant it, and then forget I ever said that thing. By the time they tell me how ridiculous it is that I like coffee creamer I could be back to drinking black coffee again. I don’t know what you’re taking about. Nothing is real, man. This is my feminism: every feminist can choose what feminism means to them. I can both think that my kind of feminism is the only right kind and acknowledge that it’s probably not true.

We have a lot of control over the chaos. That doesn’t mean that we can stop the chaos. We just can pick what kind of chaos it is. Some people decide that their chaos is going to be a kind of self-limiting self-loathing as they try over and over again to meet the approval of imaginary narratives. (See: they try to be something their not). Some people push the boundaries, disrupt the narrative by being themselves.

In whatever way you put yourself out there, to whatever degree, I salute you.

What do you think?

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