And today in “no, we’re really not joking” news regarding political correctness, did you know your privilege is showing if you use the phrase “bringing home the bacon”?
Yes, it’s true — simple phrases like that now ought to be considered passé, according to one academic, because they involve animal products.
Writing in The Conversation — whose motto “Academic rigour, journalistic flair” has always struck me as one of the more ridiculously hopeful taglines on the internet — Professor Shareena Z. Hamzah of Swansea University in Wales argues that meat itself is tainted by the whiff of privilege.
Now that more and more people are cutting out animal products from their diets, she writes, phrases that use them might be considered offensive.
“For countless generations, meat has been considered the single most important component of any meal. But meat is more than just a form of sustenance, it is the very king of all foods. It’s a source of societal power,” she writes in a piece headlined “How the rise of veganism may tenderize fictional language.”
“Historically, the resources required to obtain meat meant it was mainly the preserve of the upper classes, while the peasantry subsisted on a mostly vegetarian diet. As a result, the consumption of meat was associated with dominant power structures in society, its absence from the plate indicating disadvantaged groups, such as women and the poor. To control the supply of meat was to control the people.”
This would be a great lark, but I’m under the impression this poor woman is being serious.
“In today’s reality, meat is repeatedly the subject of much socially and politically charged discussion, including about how the demand for meat is contributing to climate change and environmental degradation,” she continues.
“Given that fiction often reflects on real world events and societal issues, it may very well be that down the line powerful meat metaphors are eschewed.
“The increased awareness of vegan issues will filter through consciousness to produce new modes of expression.”
And that new consciousness, of course, will take out certain phrases.
“It is not surprising that food metaphors, often meat-based, infuse our daily speech,” she writes.
“There is invariably a gastronomically themed way of expressing almost any situation. Having money troubles? Then your goose is cooked if you don’t bring home the bacon.”
I’m curious where the academic rigo(u)r and/or journalistic flair is here. This is pretty much less rigorous or academic than my personal favorite study in this vein, “When ‘Angelino’ squirrels don’t eat nuts: a feminist posthumanist politics of consumption across southern California.”
As for journalistic flair? Well, read it for yourself. If it weren’t unintentionally funny, you’d fall asleep.
Take, for instance, her alternatives.
“The increased awareness of vegan issues will filter through our consciousness to produce new modes of expression – after all, there’s more than one way to peel a potato. At the same time, metaphors involving meat could gain an increased intensity if the killing of animals for food becomes less socially acceptable,” she writes.
“The image of ‘killing two birds with one stone’ is, if anything, made more powerful by the animal-friendly alternative of ‘feeding two birds with one scone.’ If veganism forces us to confront the realities of food’s origins, then this increased awareness will undoubtedly be reflected in our language and our literature.”
I’ll pause while you clean the coffee you just spat out while laughing off of your phone. Ready now? Great.
Sadly, Hamzah isn’t the only one who thinks this should be a thing. Look at those brilliant folks at PETA, who also suggested teachers substitute new idioms for anything involving animals.
“Unfortunately, many of us grew up hearing common phrases that perpetuate violence toward animals, such as ‘kill two birds with one stone,’ ‘beat a dead horse,’ and ‘bring home the bacon.’ These old sayings are often passed down in classrooms during lessons on literary devices,” the group wrote in a blog post for teachers headlined “Animal-Friendly Idioms That Your Students Will Love.”
“While these phrases may seem harmless, they carry meaning and can send mixed signals to students about the relationship between humans and animals and can normalize abuse.”
Instead, PETA suggests that you should say “spill the beans” instead of “letting the cat out of the bag” and “taking the rose by the thorns” instead of “taking the bull by the horns.”
That’s perhaps the most galling thing about Hamzah’s piece, which was published late last month. She’s not the only one thinking this.
She’s not the only person bringing home some bacon by saying “bringing home the bacon” is offensive. God help us, each and every one.
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