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These are some terms I avoid using, with explanations of why I reject them.
There is another similar list in gnu.org containing software-related terms that we should avoid using.
Age of Trump: Let's not magnify the troll by designating this age as being entirely about him.
Bicycle sharing system: This refers to local systems for bicycle rental. To call rental "sharing" is a misleading PR campaign.
There is nothing inherently wrong with bicycle rental systems, but the ones that actually exist are unjust and inexcusable because they track their users.
Children: Humans up to age 12 or 13 are children. After that, they become adolescents or teenagers. Let's resist the practice of infantilizing teenagers under the term "children" by not calling them that.
Detained: I am frequently detained on the street, in train stations, and in airports. The people that detain me typically ask, "Are you Richard Stallman?" Then they say they appreciate my work, though often they are misinformed about what the Free Software Movement really stands for.
Being thus detained is not a painful experience. When people call the GNU system "Linux" and think I advocate "open source", that disappoints me, but there is a positive side: it gives me a chance to educate them about those differences, and ask them to help GNU and free software.
By contrast, being taken away by thugs who might hold you prisoner for a short time or a long time is a pain in the neck, or worse. It can be stressful, harmful, and even dangerous.
To describe that occurrence by a passionless word such as "detained", which is used for events far less grave and perhaps even pleasant, is to deny the essence of what is happening. For those occurrences, I say "arrested" or "jailed", according to the specifics.
Dreamers: I support the DREAM Act, which would allow unauthorized childhood immigrants, those who have been in the US for many years, to remain and apply for citizenship. However, I do not call them "dreamers", because the term seems corny to me.
Honor killing: Patriarchal murder.
latinx: Please don't write that unless you are prepared to speak it as well.
Using the convention I proposed for gender-neutraity in Spanish, the word would be "latinis", but my proposal has not been adopted much yet.
Obamacare: I don't use this term because it treats Obama's medical insurance law with a certain amount of derision. While that system doesn't do enough — the main flaw being that it is based on private insurance companies — it was a substantial advance. I don't want to promote derision towards it.
Partner: This word means someone you are business with. To use it in regard to a love relationship is, in effect, to model your idea of love on the idea of business. I think it is misguided to model important areas of life in terms of mere business.
People of color: The term "people of color" endorses a racist outlook towards humanity by treating "color" as as a matter of essence, of the substance a person is made of, rather than as a superficial detail.
The distinctions we call "racial" are grab-bags of various details of appearance, which may correlate more or less with certain ancestral groups. They are real differences, but not particularly important differences unless people make them so. Let's avoid using essentialist language to refer to them.
Pro-choice: A way to support the right to an abortion avoid supporting abortion as such.
I support abortion rights, not "choice".
Pro-life: People who assert that fetuses are human beings, and that their lives are sacred but only until they are born, use the term "pro-life" to pass themselves off as supporters of human rights. Let's not promote their pretense.
Giving birth kills some women. The US now has the highest rate of maternal death, among wealthy countries, partly due to abortion-resticting policies that force some women to give birth. So we could call this movement "pro-death".
Sexual assault: this term is so broad that using it is misleading. The term includes rape, groping, sexual harassment, and other acts.
These acts are not merely different in degree. They are different in kind. Rape is a grave crime. Being groped is unpleasant but not as grave as robbery. Sexual harassment is a not an action at all, but rather a pattern of actions that constitutes economic unfairness. How can it make sense to group these behaviors things together?
It never makes sense. News articles, studies, and laws should avoid that term.
Sex trafficking: This term is gravely ambiguous. It usually means trafficking people for sex (enslavement of people as prostitutes), but I've seen it apparently used to mean trafficking in sex (all prostitution, including voluntary prostitution). Such an ambiguous term is an invitation to bad thinking.
STEM: I think it is fun to learn math, science, and technology, and good to teach them—to students that want to learn them.
I think it is sad when someone feels compelled to study those fields.
In any case, I won't call them by the chic buzzword "STEM". We already have perfectly fine names for those fields.
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