Umbrage – it’s a good word, it could be a town in Italy or a herb, one might ask ‘How is the sauce?’ and hear the reply ‘Very good, but it could do with a little more umbrage’. However, taking umbrage is a common reaction today but it is difficult to know when one is offending someone. Oscar Wilde famously said that “A gentleman is never unintentionally rude” which is all very well but how do we know if we are being rude or not? I could have made up some ridiculous examples of things that one is no longer permitted to say but they wouldn’t be as unbelievable as the things that are actually out there. For instance, I read yesterday (and it isn’t April Fool’s day yet!) that rowers are being asked not to use the expression ‘catching a crab’ as this could be upset vegetarians. And Afro wigs are frowned on – for heaven’s sake they are supposed to be a bit of fun – because they are ethnically insensitive. I am a Scot and there are hideous ginger wigs attached to tartan tam o’shanters on sale in every tourist shop north of the border – and if that isn’t offensive I don’t know what is – so why don’t Scots make a fuss? I’ll tell you why – because we still have a sense of humour!
So much of it is just absurd and doing its best to take the joy out of life. I’m quite surprised that Mother’s Day survives as the very word Mother has been called into question – soon we will have cards for ‘Person who has given Birth Day’. I heard this week of a girl who had recently had a baby being asked by the midwife if she was ‘chest’ feeding!
I hate the expression ‘stand with’ as in appeals asking people to ‘stand with’ victims of a disaster – what is wrong with support – however no sooner do I get my head round something than it has gone – apparently asking someone to ‘stand with’ you discriminates against those in wheelchairs! No, I’m not kidding, it was in the Daily Mail, so it must be true.!
Now Oxfam has come under fire for issuing a bizarre ‘inclusive’ language guide to staff which is peppered with suggested Do’s, Don’ts and the potential pitfalls of any faux pas. Here are some examples that Oxfam says should not be used, the reasons why, and what should be used instead:
Avoid: Mother or father because in patriarchal culture, social norms around gender result in designated roles for parents so use parent instead.
Avoid: Sanitary products, feminine hygiene because the words imply that periods are in themselves unclean, so use menstrual products or period products instead.
Avoid: Women and children, because ‘Women and children’ reaffirms the patriarchal view that women are as helpless as children so use women, men, girls, boys instead.
There are 92 pages of this rubbish and you can look it up on line if you are bored out of your mind and don’t have a life but personally I almost lost the will to live after reading the first few.
What is Oxfam doing? Oxfam was started to support families in dire need all over the world not to employ people to write this drivel. Many people will, I am sure, disagree with me and think that there is a need for everything to be spelled out, but a bit of common sense, a sense of compassion and a sense of humour would surely do the job just as efficiently and far more cheaply. We have to take our pleasures where we can and as I get older I take a lot of my pleasure from being a grumpy old woman although I’m a bit of a wimp and tend to curse at people from the safety of my car. But it seems that I am not alone. The other day I had a confrontation with a woman when we came bonnet to bonnet in a narrow lane. She had a passing place a few feet behind her and I had one down hill and round the corner from me so it was logical that she should reverse. After a lot of gesturing from us both she finally and very reluctantly went back – straight into a hedge! She got out of the car and stomped towards me in a fury shouting, rather unreasonably, ‘Look what you made me do!’ I replied calmly, and very irritatingly, ‘I don’t see how it can be my fault if you don’t know how to drive’. I had my finger on the window button as I could see that her fists were clenched and I have no doubt that she was dying to punch me in the face. In the event she satisfied herself by shouting ‘You a***hole!’ in my face before storming off. I have to confess that I got the giggles but I do hope that it made her feel better.
We really have to get a grip and stop taking umbrage at absolutely everything or eventually all communication will be impossible, no one will dare speak to anyone else, AI will write sanitised emails and the logical conclusion is that we will eventually lose the power of speech and revert to grunts like the cavemen of old or the teenager of today!
*Ambridge – Just in case there is anyone out there who doesn’t know this is the home of The Archers!!!
Stella, loved this one, but just because I don’t always leave a comment, doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy all of your blogs, I do! As you say, common sense, compassion and a sense of humour go a long way. I did laugh out loud at your lady who reversed into the hedge, so there is a GOD/GODDESS after all, if one is still allowed to say either of those words!
Thank you – always good to know you have made someone laugh – we need to keep going somehow! xx
I rather enjoy being a grumpy old Git.Though I can manage to be well behaved when the need arises
Very important to be grumpy with style and a bit of grandeur and not petty or whining!
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