Queer-Related Language and How Privilege and Heteronormativity Have an Effect on Language Perception and Use
An online survey was used to determine the use and perceptions of queer-related terms by heteronormative and queer people. Research participants were primarily from the US, UK and Ireland. Research was conducted from a Queer Linguistics approach, discussing gender and queer theories as well. Results indicated that there was an existing relationship between privilege and heteronormativity and a distinguished usage and understanding of language, which was heightened when comparing heteronormative and queer participants. Privilege relations within in-group LGBTQ+ people were established, considering their gender and sexual identities separately. This study indicates additional research on other variants of participants’ identities, such as age or race/ethnicity to see how these identities intersect and affect their use of language.
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[00:00:00.340]Hey, my name is Daniel Lino.
[00:00:03.090]And I am in my second year of my master's degree
[00:00:06.540]here at the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
[00:00:10.951]at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
[00:00:15.821]So I am from Spain.
[00:00:18.600]I did my bachelor's degree in English studies,
[00:00:22.430]and this is my final degree project that I did.
[00:00:27.230]And I'm going to talk to you about it today.
[00:00:31.120]So sorry, I'm going to be talking about
[00:00:35.640]queer-related language and how privilege
[00:00:38.280]and heteronormativity have an effect
[00:00:40.900]on language perception and use.
[00:00:44.050]So what was the study about?
[00:00:48.830]What did I do?
[00:00:50.800]So for this study or for this research,
[00:00:54.250]what I wanted to understand was if and how
[00:00:59.225]the language and terminology that we use,
[00:01:02.360]whether we belong to the LGBTQ plus community or not,
[00:01:07.760]was linked to privilege and power
[00:01:10.040]in relation to how much do we fit
[00:01:12.360]into that heteronormative spectrum
[00:01:15.868]in today's society.
[00:01:18.120]So as I suspected, and I'm giving it away,
[00:01:22.450]and so a spoiler alert.
[00:01:24.850]I'm going to give you the conclusions that I found,
[00:01:29.140]but we're going to dive a little bit more
[00:01:32.363]into them in a minute at the end.
[00:01:35.040]So I found out that there's, in fact,
[00:01:38.900]an existing a relationship between privilege
[00:01:42.122]and heteronormativity and the way we speak
[00:01:45.830]and distinguish usage and understanding of language.
[00:01:51.940]So I also saw that there's a high,
[00:01:55.630]this relationship is heightened when we compare individuals
[00:02:00.820]that are perceived or identified as,
[00:02:04.643]or that fit within the heteronormative category
[00:02:09.022]and participants that were within the LGBTQ plus
[00:02:12.570]or queer community.
[00:02:14.940]But also, it's important to know
[00:02:17.513]that there's also privilege relations
[00:02:21.715]within in-group LGBTQ plus people.
[00:02:27.230]So we're going to be diving into these conclusions
[00:02:31.970]and see how I got to those.
[00:02:36.771]Okay, so basically what I did
[00:02:39.800]so that you have a little bit more of a background
[00:02:42.820]into my situation.
[00:02:45.650]I really wanted to conduct this survey,
[00:02:51.100]but my resources were limited at the time.
[00:02:55.030]So I did not have straight access
[00:02:59.470]into English native speakers.
[00:03:03.950]So my only way of doing this was to put out
[00:03:08.580]an online-based survey online and distributing that
[00:03:15.380]among Facebook groups and friends that I had.
[00:03:20.910]So I was basically trying to spread this survey
[00:03:26.240]as much as I could.
[00:03:27.880]So in the end, I got also for the survey
[00:03:33.050]was open to everyone,
[00:03:34.350]whether they belong to the LGBTQ plus community,
[00:03:37.730]or they identified as a heterosexual.
[00:03:42.700]So in the end, the only condition
[00:03:47.390]for this survey to complete that
[00:03:49.240]and that was put as a disclaimer at the beginning
[00:03:53.900]is that participants had to be English native speakers.
[00:03:59.410]And in the end, I got 70 participants
[00:04:03.030]but I could only count and those are the only ones
[00:04:06.530]who are counted in the results.
[00:04:10.700]I only counted 62 participants.
[00:04:13.500]And this was due because I identified
[00:04:17.670]that they were not native speakers of the language.
[00:04:21.570]This was done by some questions regarding nationality,
[00:04:28.300]place of birth, language spoken at the home.
[00:04:33.800]So yes, this was only limited to native speakers.
[00:04:39.720]So the participants that I got were primarily from the UK,
[00:04:44.480]from the US and from Ireland, as you see in this graph.
[00:04:49.290]Most people were from the US, 48.3%.
[00:04:53.740]Then we have the UK, 28.3% of participants.
[00:04:58.220]And then we have our Ireland, with 23.3%.
[00:05:03.800]There's two participants who come from Australia.
[00:05:07.560]And there's one participant who is a native,
[00:05:11.290]who is an English native speaker,
[00:05:13.600]but holds Polish nationality as well.
[00:05:18.220]So even though the ages of participants
[00:05:22.990]ranged between 18 and 30 years old,
[00:05:27.600]oh, sorry, between 15 to 66 years old,
[00:05:32.130]that was the whole range.
[00:05:34.970]Most participants were between 18 and 30 old.
[00:05:38.530]Which is also important to note given that
[00:05:41.840]that might affect and I think it does in fact,
[00:05:46.400]the results of this survey.
[00:05:49.460]We will talk in the end about the limitations
[00:05:52.680]of this research study as well.
[00:05:57.200]So before we dive into the methodology
[00:06:00.570]or the content of the survey,
[00:06:03.600]I think it's important to know us a trigger warning
[00:06:07.050]that I'm going to be dealing and showing
[00:06:09.960]and talking about some terms that can be perceived
[00:06:15.670]and are used nowadays, sadly, as slurs
[00:06:20.410]against the LGBTQ plus community.
[00:06:23.040]So just FYI.
[00:06:26.010]So within the survey, there were 28 questions.
[00:06:30.220]I know, a lot.
[00:06:31.950]But I'm not going to dive or talk about
[00:06:35.590]the actual 28 questions because that will be
[00:06:38.250]a very long presentation,
[00:06:41.290]but I'm going to divide the question into four main blocks.
[00:06:49.410]And then I will briefly touch on some of them,
[00:06:53.456]if I think that are relevant.
[00:06:56.370]So these four blocks, the first one,
[00:06:59.230]I was trying to find out the demographics,
[00:07:01.980]who was responding to the survey.
[00:07:08.180]So I was asking or inquiring about their age,
[00:07:12.550]their nationality, their race or ethnic background,
[00:07:16.060]their gender and sexual identity, etc.
[00:07:19.330]As I was saying also, things like place of birth
[00:07:24.770]or language spoken in the house, etc.
[00:07:29.140]Then I was trying to inquire about how much knowledge
[00:07:33.970]participants had on queer-related words.
[00:07:37.140]So I was trying to see how much they knew about,
[00:07:42.330]or how many, better said how many terms or words
[00:07:47.710]they knew, or they were familiarized with.
[00:07:50.900]Then I was asking about their perception
[00:07:53.591]on some of these queer-related terms.
[00:07:59.360]If they thought these words were positive or negative, etc.
[00:08:04.290]And finally, I was introducing, you know,
[00:08:08.120]giving a definition and talking a little bit
[00:08:10.100]about linguistic reappropriation
[00:08:13.020]or reclamation of these words,
[00:08:15.000]which consists of
[00:08:21.570]taking a word that has been traditionally used as a slur
[00:08:25.470]or as an insult against the community
[00:08:29.370]and taking that word within the community
[00:08:32.880]and using it with a different, complete meaning.
[00:08:37.520]So we'll talk a little bit about that
[00:08:42.120]further into the presentation.
[00:08:45.970]So for the first block that I was asking
[00:08:50.860]about the general knowledge that participants had
[00:08:54.370]on LGBTQ plus related terminology,
[00:08:57.610]I was asking them and giving them
[00:08:59.510]this big list of three terms.
[00:09:04.130]And I was asking them to mark those terms
[00:09:07.330]that they thought they could clearly define.
[00:09:10.390]So they were asked to define these terms.
[00:09:14.847]They have to mark as many as they thought
[00:09:17.630]they could actually give a definition for.
[00:09:20.680]I was not, like my goal was not to come to a consensus
[00:09:25.280]about the definitions or like
[00:09:27.440]the actual definitions of these words.
[00:09:29.580]But I was just trying to know how many words would be marked
[00:09:34.350]and to see the profile of those people
[00:09:38.467]who maybe knew them all, or were familiarized
[00:09:43.090]or acquainted with all of them
[00:09:45.450]and know the profiles as well,
[00:09:46.890]of those who didn't really know much about these terms.
[00:09:54.910]So these are the results in terms of how men,
[00:09:59.850]how many times or the percentages of how many times
[00:10:04.400]these words or terms were marked.
[00:10:07.810]So we see some differences,
[00:10:09.650]some words that really stand out as being very marked
[00:10:14.450]or not that marked throughout the survey.
[00:10:18.995]And so in here, we have six terms that were highly marked
[00:10:22.850]by more than 80%, most of them,
[00:10:26.330]but by more than 80% of participants,
[00:10:30.510]even reaching 90% where it's like gay, homosexual,
[00:10:34.970]heterosexual, lesbian, bisexual, and drag queen,
[00:10:37.890]they were marked many times.
[00:10:41.970]So they are words that are better known by participants.
[00:10:48.190]And then we had words or terms like agender, bigender,
[00:10:52.286]gender queer, demisexual, agender variant.
[00:10:56.460]That being the term that is the least known by participants.
[00:11:04.910]So, then I changed the set of words, as you can see,
[00:11:10.610]they're pretty different.
[00:11:12.520]And I was using words intentionally
[00:11:18.100]that have been traditionally perceived
[00:11:20.947]as very negative words that have been used
[00:11:25.910]against people within the LGBTQ plus community.
[00:11:30.245]People who do not maybe fit
[00:11:34.140]within that heteronormative spectrum.
[00:11:38.290]So I was trying to see what were the general sentiment
[00:11:43.730]towards these words or terms.
[00:11:47.340]So I was asking participants to rate
[00:11:53.960]from one to 10, one being very negative,
[00:11:57.430]10 being very positive.
[00:12:00.120]They had to rank every one of these terms.
[00:12:04.640]So what I found out and the results said
[00:12:08.909]that there were words like lesbian,
[00:12:12.750]drag, transgender, and gay.
[00:12:14.960]These words were marked by almost 80% of the people
[00:12:23.530]as very positive.
[00:12:24.700]They were ranked as 10.
[00:12:29.170]And then we have words like Pansy, Nancy,
[00:12:33.290]Limp-wristed, or fag, faggot.
[00:12:35.850]These words were ranked very, very negative.
[00:12:40.080]They were ranked at the one,
[00:12:43.330]given the value of one
[00:12:45.430]by some of them like Pansy, they were given
[00:12:48.980]almost by a 100% of participants, which is very significant.
[00:12:55.860]So the conclusions that I got from this section
[00:12:59.520]or from this part of the survey is that first we see
[00:13:03.440]a much stronger response to traditionally negative
[00:13:07.499]words or slurs in comparison to the positive ones.
[00:13:13.290]We see that the most positive word that is perceived
[00:13:19.940]is lesbian out of that list.
[00:13:22.670]And that is, that was marked like,
[00:13:26.110]the highest number of people that mark that word
[00:13:30.840]with a value of 10, very positive value
[00:13:34.951]do not reach 80% of participants.
[00:13:37.770]However, when we're talking about negative words,
[00:13:41.453]they're way stronger, or strongly perceived as negative
[00:13:47.434]by almost every participant.
[00:13:51.160]With the word Pansy almost reaching 100%.
[00:13:54.060]So we see that negative words,
[00:13:58.265]comes a stronger reaction among participants.
[00:14:02.670]We also can see that the positive perception,
[00:14:07.290]like the words that are perceived as positive,
[00:14:11.055]they coincide with the words that were previously
[00:14:14.660]in the previous block with some of the words
[00:14:17.550]that were in that list of the best known.
[00:14:21.990]So we see and we can draw the conclusion that
[00:14:29.090]exposure or knowing better a word and knowing
[00:14:33.740]how to define that term or knowing what it means,
[00:14:38.690]it's correlated with how you perceive that term.
[00:14:44.950]I think that in this case,
[00:14:47.380]when we were talking about LGBTQ plus terms,
[00:14:50.840]it's related in the sense of the better,
[00:14:54.530]what something means or the most you're exposed to that,
[00:14:59.385]the more positive reaction you have towards that term.
[00:15:04.530]And we're going to see how that is linked
[00:15:06.630]to privilege and power in a moment.
[00:15:13.089]So when participants were asked about why they ranked
[00:15:20.260]these four terms that we have in here,
[00:15:22.340]or they were asked why they ranked the terms
[00:15:29.150]that were ranked as very, very negative.
[00:15:32.320]Sorry, they were asked why to give a reason why
[00:15:37.579]they were given those terms, that value.
[00:15:40.980]And one of the most common replies
[00:15:46.550]was that these terms were perceived by participants
[00:15:50.160]as slurs, insults or dated language.
[00:15:53.940]So these were the most common reasons given by participants
[00:15:59.880]of why they ranked these terms as stated.
[00:16:06.090]So we move on to the last block.
[00:16:10.420]I was asking participants
[00:16:12.810]about word reappropriation or reclamation.
[00:16:16.130]So I was giving them the definition
[00:16:18.881]and I was explaining to them if,
[00:16:22.530]and asking if they would agree with these practice,
[00:16:26.440]the word reclamation consist
[00:16:29.440]on taking a word that has been traditionally used as a slur
[00:16:33.230]or as an insult and apply somehow reverse discourse
[00:16:40.610]in which that word that is perceived as negative
[00:16:44.650]or used against the community, its meaning, it's reversed.
[00:16:49.610]So people start using it in a reclaimed way.
[00:16:55.250]And the word develops and opposing semantic interpretation.
[00:17:00.910]So it's interpreted in a totally different way.
[00:17:04.630]So then I was asking, using the same set of words
[00:17:08.370]that some were considered as insults.
[00:17:12.730]I was using the same set of words.
[00:17:15.360]And I was asking participants,
[00:17:17.330]which words would they reclaim,
[00:17:19.710]or which words would they agree to be reclaimed?
[00:17:26.400]So again, we have words like gay, lesbian,
[00:17:29.200]transgender drag, or queen,
[00:17:31.400]and these words were marked by a decent percentage
[00:17:38.190]of participants that they agreed to reclaim these words.
[00:17:44.010]Given the case that they were interpreted
[00:17:48.690]as slurs or as an insult.
[00:17:51.260]And then we have words like Flamer, Pansy, Poof,
[00:17:54.240]Nancy, or Limp-wristed
[00:17:55.767]and these words were the least voted
[00:17:59.360]in terms of which words would you agree to be reclaimed.
[00:18:03.330]So these words would not be acceptable to be reclaimed
[00:18:07.720]by most of participants.
[00:18:12.256]So now we move onto the discussion of this research.
[00:18:19.810]Mainly I was taken on intersectional approach
[00:18:24.100]basing on Kimberle Crenshaw.
[00:18:29.160]Which she, the term that she developed, intersectionality.
[00:18:35.180]So I was thinking the point of view
[00:18:39.700]that under the premise
[00:18:41.570]that there are several intersecting mechanisms of oppression
[00:18:46.740]that are obviously harsher into minorities
[00:18:52.730]that are also within another minority.
[00:18:56.540]So there's several aspects in people's identity
[00:19:03.125]and they can receive oppression from several aspects
[00:19:09.570]of their identity.
[00:19:12.040]So that's why it was very interesting to me
[00:19:14.460]to compare not only within in-group and out-group.
[00:19:17.560]So within the, so between heterosexual
[00:19:22.860]or heteronormative people and the LGBTQ plus people,
[00:19:27.810]but also within the actual community.
[00:19:31.620]So what I did at first was to compare
[00:19:35.200]between in-group and out-group, as I said.
[00:19:39.510]I found out that in terms of the first questioning,
[00:19:45.610]which I was asking participants to mark
[00:19:48.720]how many words or terms they knew or they could define.
[00:19:54.619]28% of participants that identified as heterosexual
[00:19:59.700]marked 10 terms or less.
[00:20:02.500]I remind you that there were three terms in that list.
[00:20:07.740]On the other side, we have only 17%
[00:20:11.580]of LGBTQ plus participants
[00:20:13.870]that marked 10 terms or less.
[00:20:18.610]Also, I think, and that's one of the things
[00:20:22.020]that was not surprising, but very interesting to me
[00:20:26.920]is that out of that 70% of LGBTQ plus participants,
[00:20:32.820]71% were identifying as homosexual.
[00:20:37.890]So we have to note and take into account
[00:20:42.450]that there are many letters within the acronym LGBTQ plus,
[00:20:49.240]and that we need to know and be aware
[00:20:52.990]that there are some letters that have more presentation
[00:20:57.990]and have more privilege and have more exposure
[00:21:03.529]and therefore, more acceptance within society than others.
[00:21:08.210]So it's very interesting that out of those people
[00:21:13.500]that were not that aware of that many terms
[00:21:18.380]that can be related to many others of those letters,
[00:21:25.639]71% were identifying as homosexual,
[00:21:29.540]which can, I think without argument,
[00:21:34.490]be one of the letters within the acronym
[00:21:37.170]that enjoys the most accessibility or acceptance
[00:21:44.250]and exposure within society.
[00:21:48.680]So that's very interesting.
[00:21:50.560]And then I moved on to maybe a comparison
[00:21:54.117]between in-group participants.
[00:21:56.420]And I drew a difference
[00:22:00.070]between heterosexual and heteronormative.
[00:22:04.281]So there were some participants
[00:22:09.160]that according to their responses,
[00:22:12.170]they were fitting more into the heteronormative spectrum,
[00:22:19.220]just because of what I just said.
[00:22:21.470]Some people, even though they might be identifying
[00:22:24.410]as homosexual or as bisexual, they were however,
[00:22:30.200]enjoying the privileges or being read
[00:22:33.210]or being identified as heteronormative.
[00:22:39.240]So they would be fitting into the norm.
[00:22:43.690]Which I think it was very interesting
[00:22:45.870]to draw the difference between that as well.
[00:22:48.350]And yeah, the conclusions that I got
[00:22:51.270]is that having more visibility or social recognition
[00:22:54.990]and acceptance, as I was saying,
[00:22:57.230]that translates directly into privilege and power.
[00:23:01.640]So we need to be conscious and aware
[00:23:04.560]of these differences that we have.
[00:23:08.779]So within, in terms of the reclamation of words,
[00:23:15.056]it's very interesting as well that this only,
[00:23:20.130]let's put the word fag or faggot as an sample.
[00:23:24.410]We have only 17.7% of participants
[00:23:32.890]agreed or said that they personally used
[00:23:36.910]the word fag or faggot in a reclaimed way.
[00:23:41.620]But we need to also see that out of that 17.7%,
[00:23:48.200]more than 85% identified outside the binary male, female.
[00:23:53.730]So they were not within that binary.
[00:23:57.150]Again, they were not perceived or performing as normative.
[00:24:06.550]So it's interesting to see how out of all the participants
[00:24:11.680]only 17.7% would dare, let's say,
[00:24:17.370]to reclaim or use that word to define themselves
[00:24:22.050]or others without a negative connotation.
[00:24:26.980]And out of all those participants,
[00:24:29.290]only those would dare to use that word
[00:24:33.240]and they all belonged or 85% of them belonged
[00:24:37.560]outside the binary.
[00:24:39.820]So I think that's very interesting as well.
[00:24:42.730]We're seeing that the people who are bolder
[00:24:46.210]in terms of reclaiming words
[00:24:48.190]are the minorities within the minority.
[00:24:51.640]So they are the less represented or less visible letters
[00:24:56.290]within the LGBTQ plus acronym.
[00:25:01.261]So now we're reaching the end of this presentation.
[00:25:05.149]On further research or possible limitations as well
[00:25:10.040]that I think I need to acknowledge in this research.
[00:25:14.760]I think that one of them would be narrowing the sample.
[00:25:19.850]We can cannot forget that this research
[00:25:22.799]was done as an open survey
[00:25:26.620]where anyone could actually complete the survey.
[00:25:31.890]I had some measures to prevent people
[00:25:34.230]who are not native speakers to complete the survey
[00:25:38.830]or to be counted as valid.
[00:25:40.690]However, there is a big range on age, race,
[00:25:45.040]or ethnic background or country of origin.
[00:25:48.771]So it's interesting to know that there could be
[00:25:52.690]many more research done around these issues,
[00:26:00.550]but I think at a smaller level and more narrowed
[00:26:05.550]in the way that you can get specific details
[00:26:09.990]of a specific community
[00:26:11.680]and then compare all those research, for instance,
[00:26:16.120]know that the word fag
[00:26:18.500]can have a totally different meaning in the UK.
[00:26:23.720]So maybe for them, that word might not be perceived
[00:26:27.200]as that negative, that for someone in the US,
[00:26:31.120]just as an example.
[00:26:34.960]And I think that one of the other limitations as well
[00:26:38.940]would be, it will be wonderful to do these research again,
[00:26:43.290]but actually having access or direct access
[00:26:47.480]to interview these people and be able to go back
[00:26:53.390]and ask more questions if needed.
[00:26:56.360]That would be awesome in order to go further
[00:27:01.670]into the research.
[00:27:05.460]So that was my presentation.
[00:27:07.770]Thank you so much for staying, for listening to me
[00:27:11.540]and I will be open for any questions.
[00:27:15.300]Thank you, bye.
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