We should all know the dangers of obscuring essentials and by so doing, allowing the powerful to carry on their business unchallenged.
We all ought to know the dangers of division amongst social forces which, in combination, could feasibly challenge entrenched power; and of diversion away from the essentials into a focus on appearance, but way too many people, many of whom ought to know better, glue their noses to the ground and follow the scent-trail of their particular doctrinal line, or turn on each other, argue and obsess about ephemera, side-line much more pressing issues, and in lieu of sensible debate, develop and deploy slogans, synonyms and euphemisms.
Slogans often serve to ensure a doctrinal line is followed and they can also relieve the parroters of slogans of the burden of needing to think for themselves.
Euphemisms are not harmless evasions where they serve to obscure things people need to know in order to be able to safely navigate increasingly dangerous waters - especially those waters which may look very calm and inviting on the surface, but which have deep and dangerous undercurrents.
Here's one to ponder. Breath play is a euphemism for partial asphyxiation, which induces hypoxia, ie starving the brain of oxygen, a practice that carries a very real risk of death or brain damage.
Such a euphemism acts as an obfuscation of the dynamics and physical realities of the use of choking in sexual relationships in which there is a power imbalance and /or an imbalance in physical strength. It also masks the added dangers of the effects on such relationships of a resurgent misogyny fuelled by the global market in easily accessible porn involving violent, debasing, dehumanising sex enacted, for the most part, on vulnerable female bodies.
Practices like choking, along with some others marketed in brightly hued “sex positivity” packaging - carry a very real risk of immediate harm - even death - and there is a wider and longer term harm that may be done to the glue that holds our increasingly fragmented social world together.
Synonyms usually have subtle differences in meaning, which may alter according to context and which can greatly increase clarity and nuance in the written and spoken word. They can also serve a powerful ideological function such as can be seen in the current proliferation of essential-denying, appearance-elevating synonyms for woman.
Menstruators. Menopausal people. Individuals with a cervix. Pregnant people. Birthing bodies. Chest feeders. Uterus holders. People with vaginas. Vagina owners. Vulva owners. Surrogate hosts. Carriers.
Every one of these has been used in a serious newspaper or journal and/or by governments and NGOs involved in such matters as reproductive health and wellbeing.
We do not see a similar proliferation of such terms for that which is male, eg. Ejaculators. Individuals with a prostate. Impregnators. Testicle havers. People with a penis. Scrotum owners.
It is the very idea of woman that is being challenged by these linguistic developments. Women as a class. A sex class. A class whose historic and contemporary economic hyper-exploitation and oppression - especially when viewed from outside the blurring effects of middle class life inside the imperial bubble - was, and still is rooted in potential, presumed, current, or prior reproductive capacities.
This is not reducing women to those capacities; it is acknowledging their historical and contemporary material reality and it challenges society to change its phallocratic ways in relation to them - to acknowledge, celebrate, and materially support that which is female - not blur, deny, or subvert it.
To those who think the protection and advancement of trans people's rights lies in a nose-down, arse-up pursuit of the current transgender doctrine - I'd say, who do you think has laid the ideological scent you are following, and where do you think it will lead? I'd say much the same thing to the die-hard scent-followers on the other side of this most vexed and vexing issue.