Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Mascot Gavotte

After dancing around the issue, a local high school has deemed a cougar unworthy of being its mascot after hearing from parents who were concerned about their daughters carrying the banner of the big cat because it is offensive to women.

Um... huh?

Amid legitimate concerns (like the fact that they didn't want to have the same mascot as nearby BYU or share a mascot with other local high schools) parents were actually dialing up the school board because they didn't want to risk their daughters being bitten by a slang term for an older woman who pursues younger men?  Sorry, but in this instance I'm pretty sure no one is picturing a charging, powerful animal as an old broad in a too-tight dress and spike heels.

Why can't we just take mascots (or words) at face value instead of insisting they have some deeper meaning that no one ever intended or, in many cases, knew about?

It reminds me of an article I read several years ago where Olympic athlete, Kerri Walsh, talked about having "Irish twins" - you know, babies born less than a year apart.  Based on the comments attached to the article you would have thought she had kicked a puppy.  Reader after reader was rife with indignation over her use of the "offensive" phrase.  I thought the comments couldn't possibly get any more ridiculous until one woman wrote that she was also offended over the use of the word "gypped" in the column, which opened the floodgates for a whole new onslaught of crystal-ball throwing over who was the most insensitive and to what group of people.

Honestly, must we understand the etymology of every word, the history of every phrase, before we use it?  Must we sift through the annals of history solely to find things over which to become offended?  Why can't we just sit back, take a deep breath, and choose not to take offense when absolutely no offense is intended? 

If you're like me you had no clue what the origin of the term "Irish twins" was.  Or "gypped."  Or "Indian giver" or that the children's rhyme "Eenie Meenie Minie Moe" wasn't always talking about catching tigers by their toes.  All you have to go on is their current phrasing or meaning.  To read anything into it beyond that is ridiculous.  And yet, here we are, wringing our hands over certain words and phrases as if they exist solely to deliberately offend. 

Sometimes words are just words and cougars are just cougars.

And there's nothing more to it than that.


MyDonkeySix said...

Oh my lame! seriously? A cougar. Dumb. It's like banning "Huck Finn" or "Uncle Tom's Cabin" because of the stuff in there. Think about the time it came from. Not offensive now, people!

Twinkies said...

I'm offended that you wrote this blogpost.

Megan B ♥ said...

I'm offended that you used the word "annals". I'm against anything that could be misspelled easily enough to make it too dangerous to google.

And thanks for writing this post. I had been mentally composing a blog post on this exact news article, but you spared me the effort of finishing my thought by finishing it for me so well. Thank you :)