In this journal activity, you will explore the ways in which use of language influences perceptions of human behavior.
To better understand the elements that shape our view of human abnormality, Jamal has begun to reflect on his own lived experiences. During Jamal’s adolescence, no element seemed more powerful to him than language. Jamal clearly recalls boys taunting him as he prepared for gym class, “Hey freak, you’re in the wrong locker room!” Likewise, when boys and girls would disperse into gender-specific groups, Jamal often found himself gravitating toward the girls because they didn’t appear to be as mean as the boys; however, his female peers felt that he was too “weird” to be included in their clique. For Jamal, these emotionally painful events caused him to experience feelings of confusion, ostracism, isolation, and despair.
For as long as he can recall, Jamal has had difficulty identifying with society’s views of gender and sexuality. He has never felt as though he is singularly male or female; these categories have simply never aligned with his idealized self-concept. Likewise, Jamal has never felt as though he was exclusively gay. On the contrary, he has always felt as though he could fluidly move between sexual orientations, depending on the situation and context, as though human sexuality existed on a spectrum from heterosexual to homosexual. For these reasons, Jamal has recently begun to identify as bisexual and gender non-binary and, for the first time in his life, feels normal.
The word abnormal carries a lot of humanistic weight. Like a practitioner who is bound by ethical codes of conduct to ensure that no harm is done within the scope of clinical practice, each of us has a moral obligation to ensure that we don’t inflict psychological harm on others—intentionally or unintentionally—with the language we use when discussing gender and sexuality. As we learn to value our individual differences, one idea resonates: It’s our implicit responsibility to embrace all people with compassion, empathy, and acceptance as they attempt to be what comes most naturally: themselves.
The following resources support your work on this activity:
For this journal activity, you will focus on the influence of language on shaping perceptions of human behavior. Specifically, consider how the words we use can have a dramatic positive or negative influence on how we view the biological, psychological, and social orientations of others. Respond to the following prompts with a minimum of 3 to 5 sentences. Address the rubric criteria listed below and support your answers with a credible source when necessary.
- Describe how the words we use to discuss gender and sexuality shape our perception of what is considered normal or abnormal. Provide an example within your response.
- Imagine engaging in conversation with family, friends, or colleagues and eventually realizing that they were inadvertently promoting stereotypes about gender or sexuality. Describe the thoughts and feelings that you might experience during such a conversation.
- Describe the language used within your own culture (e.g., family members, friends, colleagues) when discussing gender and sexuality.
Guidelines for Submission
Submit your completed Module Six Activity Template. Sources should be cited according to APA style.