“She chickened out at the last minute!”
“Sheila and Joe can be very foxy.”
“He made an ass of himself in front of everyone.”
“During the meeting they bitched about everything.”
In our everyday conversations, at times we are so focused on the message we want to convey that we don’t pay attention to the words that we are choosing to make the point. We forget that words can be descriptive, powerful and harmful – all at the same time.
Each example above describes human behaviour in a negative manner. However, when we stop to consider the words that that have been used, we realize that the metaphors are denigrating particular animals at the same time.
As we all know, the behaviour of any creature is too complex to be reduced to a single, negative characteristic. The movement of a chicken, the agility of a fox, the voice of a female dog, the comportment of a donkeys: each occurs in a specific context and for a specific reason.
Next time that you want to describe a person’s behaviour, think twice before you speak. Be certain that your use of words does not does not harm or sacrifice the integrity of a fellow creature.