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Violent Words Are Not Violent Actions

Updated on August 15, 2015

It’s a common belief among young feminists today that violent words are the same thing as committing actual violent acts. They argue that threatening to hurt someone, jokingly or not, is the same thing as actually hurting them. In other words, people think that this statement,

“Imma kill you blargggggh!”

is no different than actual murder. This argument is not only illogical but dangerous. Let’s break this down. You’ve probably seen this picture before:

For those of us that do not understand French, It says “this is not a pipe.” It is in fact a picture of a painting of a pipe. A physical pipe is completely different from a picture of a painting of a pipe. You use a real pipe to smoke. You wouldn’t smoke a painting (I hope), and you definitely wouldn’t smoke a picture on a computer screen. However, you could hang up a painting, examine it, and discuss it. And you can use a picture of a painting of a pipe to disprove ridiculous arguments.

If you can argee that the original painting is not a pipe and the above image is not a pipe either, then you really can’t argue that words or images of violence is the same thing as actual violent acts. But confusing the two isn’t just illogical and stupid, it is dangerous. At first the argument was “threats of violence are the same thing as acts of violence.” Then it became “violent words are a form of violence.” Then it became “insults are a form of violence.” Insults. Calling someone fat is now considered an act of violence. Don’t get me wrong, it is rude, but violent?

Are we going to arrest people for insulting someone now? Oh wait, we can’t because of something called the First Amendment. And that’s the thing. Any word, no matter how powerful, is still a word. It doesn’t matter how hurtful the word is. Rape jokes are not the same thing as actually committing rape. Threatening to kill someone is not the same thing as actually killing someone. A picture of a painting of a pipe is not the same thing as an actual pipe. Saying “I love you.” Is not the same as actually feeling love. Saying “I promise” is not the same as actually keeping a promise. The word “apple” is not the same thing as this:

which is not the same thing as the physical piece of fruit we have assigned the label of “apple.”

The root of this issue is these feminists are confusing symbols for the things they represent. This simple confusion leads to censorship, as well as physical retaliation in response, and worst of all the continued coddling of young adults because they can’t accept that some people just don’t like them. Or perhaps that’s what it really is about. Someone says something mean, so you punch them in the face. Hate to break it to you, but you’re not the victim in that situation.


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    • Meghan Beatty profile imageAUTHOR

      Meghan Beatty 

      3 years ago from PA

      @mattdigiulio- Popular news sources no, but many feminist spaces are full of this idea.

      Thank you for the comments everyone!

    • mattdigiulio profile image


      3 years ago

      I don't believe that people who characterize themselves as feminists are any more likely to hear a violent word or joke and consider it to be the same thing as a physical act of violence. I haven't read anything in the news that would support that.

      Interesting article. You're an excellent writer. Voting up, and all that jazz.

    • Robert Litchfield profile image

      Bob Litchfield 

      3 years ago from Ohio

      I agree that violent words are not the same as violent physical acts. The problem is that this distinction is lost on many people. Those who decry verbal bullying for example. While I don't approve of bullying, having at one point in time, been the smallest guy in my class and subject to verbal and physical attack. I do recognize that it has occured and will continue to well into the distant future and to put it in the same category of physical criminal activity is asinine. Can words be hurtful, mentally? Absolutely...if YOU let them. Or, you can turn your back, walk away chanting quietly to yourself, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

    • profile image

      Kevin Goodwin 

      3 years ago

      Words may not be physically hurtful but mentally they sure hurt.


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