Bullshit – Take 2 – Being “Woke” – Part 2

Ok, so yesterday I talked about how I had attempted to write a story about the use of the slang word “Woke,” and how I didn’t quite land on the mark with that first draft.  The post I was working on is part of a series I’ve waded into about the fray between gender roles, well, maybe gender behavior says it better.  See my previous posts, “Query” and “Tse’itsi’nako – Thought Woman ‘Being Woke’ – Part 1.”

So, here’s take two – on the Bullshit post. 😊


I know I’m a little late to the game talking about what it means when the genders speak of being “woke.”  But that’s ok.  I actually started writing a piece about this over a year and a half ago, but I put it on hold once the “Me Too” movement, the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, and the latest state anti-abortion laws kicked these discussions into high gear.  The topics of patriarchy, sexism, and misogyny are hotly debated, and I think I can safely say the country’s current leadership hasn’t helped in this regard.

But I wanted, and needed, to take in a wider perspective.  So, I’ve waited for a while.

There is a lot of outrage out there, and I’m not sure it’s being directed in the most constructive ways.  But before I go and take the next step, I figured I have to conquer the terminology first because of the popularized slang word “woke.”  And I better address it because I’ve included it in the titles to this series.

It seems if you attach this word in the proper place all is well, because being “woke” means that one has attained a higher state of consciousness, that one understands the social justice issues in dispute, and that one is taking the high road in reforming their own inner consciousness and their behavior towards an oppressed group or with regard to some evil ideology.

Ok, so maybe some of us have “woke” up recently.  Or maybe some of us have been “wake” this whole time.  Or maybe some are still fast asleep.  😊

Great, we have a word to embody an entire mental state.  That’s generally the nature of words and slang words in particular.  They have definitions.  They make it easy for us to convey entire thought trains and images without having to use more than one word to do so.  It’s convenient.  It’s even cool if you can come up with something clever.

But then a side issue erupted as to who could authentically use this word.  It’s sort of sandbox issue.

 “It’s mine!”  “No, it’s mine!” “Well, it was mine first!!”

Well, not to sound insensitive, but I don’t really care.

We all know that as fast as terminology is coined, it is applied in different contexts.  I think it is rare you can call a certain word or set of words distinctly possessed by any given entity, unless you are delving into copyright law, which protects publications, music, artwork, or maybe the brand name of a pharmaceutical drug.  It’s simply the nature of language usage to evolve over time.

And, I certainly have no problem acknowledging and giving credit where credit is due for the origins of popular lexicon.  Even though I think that would be highly debated for this particular bit of slang.  But then some took this a bit further and jumped on the bandwagon of saying that to use this term in another context is “cultural appropriation.”

Now that gets my legal brain churning.

So, I back-tracked through the use of this slang and the claimed ownership rights and I did the legal analysis of what “appropriation” and “misappropriation” are and are not.  That’s where the first draft of this story when wrong – way too technical.

Suffice it to say that I call Bullshit on someone claiming ownership of this term or claiming its misappropriation.  And I do say that respectfully because everyone is entitled to their beliefs. 😊

Since woke is the past participle of wake, as is awoke of awake, I have a feeling that in some point in time prior to the current claimed coining of this slang, someone used the phrase that they had awaken, or awoke, or awoken, or “woke up” or “woke,” meaning they had become enlightened about something.

I can see this as being more than plausible in the religious context.

And I don’t get where any offense to using this term comes from anyway.  It would seem to me that a given culture might find it validating that another culture sees value in its practices or dialects and wishes to adopt them.  Remembering the old saying that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

I do understand that sometimes people use terminology or adopt a cultural practice in an offensive way or in a way that distorts or denigrates the original practice.  But I don’t believe that’s what is happening here.

It seems to me there are far too many things people chose to lay claim to and then fight about.  And for what purpose?

Ok, you were first in line.  Duly noted.  Let’s move on.

I decided the claimed history of this slang expression and the legal analysis doesn’t add anything to my commentary here.  Those lay on the cutting room floor.  I encountered this term in the context of gender relations, and that’s where I plan to use it.  The term is in the public domain, and don’t believe I need to ask for permission for it.  But thanks anyway. 😊


Photo: I thought it more tasteful to use one of my pics with some related words of wisdom as opposed to including a more literal picture of bullshit to highlight the theme of the post.  And BTW, if anyone wishes to call Bullshit on me or any of my posts, by all means feel free to do.  I promise, I will take no offense. And I’ll also apologize now for my overuse of the smiley face. 🙂

Addendum: I think it’s important to add a note about what constitutes a valid claim of cultural appropriation.  There is no question in my mind that this offensive practice has occurred, and is still occurring, with this country’s First Nation peoples.  Their history and cultural practices have been largely distorted, misrepresented, and packaged for sale, to make that pecuniary gain through exploitation.  So when I speak of other claims of CA being invalid, like this claim of ownership to a single slang word, please do not misunderstand, there are valid claims of CA happening, and we have a stake in not supporting this type of profiteering.


27 thoughts on “Bullshit – Take 2 – Being “Woke” – Part 2”

  1. Making me think again….on a slightly different note, I was at bookclub recently and the question the leader posed was if a character was ambitious. One person said yes which is fine except the book actually stated that the character switched jobs because they wanted to be laid back, and I said that the character was actually the opposite of ambitious and the woman said that’s the dictionary definition of ambitious, but we don’t use words by their actual meaning, we attach a separate meaning because dictionary meanings don’t matter….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL! It is true sometimes, but yes, dictionary definitions do matter if people want to communicate accurately. Connotations and slang keep shaping language and the dictionary tries to keep up. I have fun looking up words now in the so-called “Urban Dictionary” now too. That offers perspective on “street language.” As for your book club member, I don’t get how she flipped that definition to its exact opposite, but I agree with you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely! And if you can just use a word any old way, you might as well speak gibberish. Haha! By the way, I do not give any credence to the concept of culture appropriation. It’s a silly and divisive and petty way to start trouble where there is none. Have a great day!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, I read that myself. And some other articles people have authored. It is interesting. Trying to pinpoint original usage based on when something gets publicized isn’t exactly an exact science. But it is interesting nonetheless 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 🙂 Since the correct use of words is essential in communication (Urban Dictionary be damned), I am interested in your view of the replacement of words with emoji’s. Since I use them more than I like to admit, does that make me a sinner to the Word World? 😦 BTW: a loud amen to your addendum! My heart belongs to First Nation peoples.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! Correct usage is needed. Communication is tough as it is, and gets more complicated when people aren’t on the same page. I offended a friend not long ago with a text message I thought was perfectly clear. I referenced other individuals in a not so good light. She misunderstood and thought I was including her in that group. It all came down to one word choice that caused a bunch of disharmony. Emojis are interesting, in some ways. You really can say 1000 words with a picture, not so much with an emoji. But I do like them because people miss context, tone of voice, facial expressions and immediate feedback and correction when they are digitally communicating. So sometimes adding a smiley face lets people know you’re not being serious or you’re making a joke. I was told of the 30 second rule when it comes to emails and texting. That’s supposedly all the attention people give to those messages and they will almost always default to taking offense or see negative connotations that don’t exit. So emojis can help – but I don’t think you can write a full sentence with one 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh, and I’m glad you saw the Addendum. Last fall I went to Mt Rushmore and was able to tour the Badlands and the Crazy Horse monument that is being constructed. I was totally shocked to see how in that part of the country absolutely every business had commercialized something by exploiting Native American culture, names, symbols, and practices. Even just the names of businesses and streets. There is some of that where I live but no where near as much as I saw out there. It made me physically ill. That represents true cultural appropriation – that is evil.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Clear communication is vital and of course, dictionaries (urban or traditional) and the correct use of words matter. It’s OK to say ‘I don’t know’, ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘What did you mean?’ I may ignite a fire here, but the liberal use of ‘woke’ comes across as ‘gaining power’ sometimes. I’m better than you, because I have woken up spiritually…type of bullshit. Xx hugs for you, Stearley ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jane ! I agree completely with you about communication – it’s vital and words do matter. I really like your perspective about the use of the word “woke.” The Tao Te Ching warns against the use of labels. More and more labels just further divide, exclude, and limit. In part 4 of my series I mention that we didn’t need another word for this – you’re right, it sounds smug. ❤❤🙏

      Liked by 1 person

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