Ever since I woke up this afternoon, I’ve been mildly harassed by this: “Have yourself a merry little Christmas…” I’m reasonably sure the writer of that song didn’t intend so–but the term, “little”, sounds condescending!
We know not to use words like “shit” and “fuck”. Yet many ordinary words, when used in certain contexts, are far more offensive–not to mention cruel. “Little” is one of them. I knew a woman named Darlene, who used this word constantly. She was the president of my Toastmasters chapter. I remember one episode, in particular: I wrote her a letter, regarding some disagreement we had. And she left a message on my answering machine, “I got your little note…” It wasn’t little, but big–at least a page! And sure enough, the rest of her message confirmed the significance of that word.
“Mrs. Olsen” does this in an episode of “Little House on the Prarie”. “Mrs. Ingalls” has baked a cake for some occasion–and Mrs. Olsen looks at the large, ornate creation, and says, “Oh, what a funny, little cake!” Then she tries to get out of it: “Oh, I meant, I meant…” before Mrs. Ingalls cleverly replies, “Don’t worry Mrs. Olsen, you’ll get your chance to talk after…”
And there was a woman (fortunately, I can’t recall her name) I met at a church singles event. I took her to a Mexican restaurant. The food was excellent, the employees top-notch. And as we were leaving (we’d eaten very early), a mariachi began playing beautiful songs on his guitar, outside. My date said, “Oh, look at the little Mexican!” I said nothing, though I fumed at this remark. I was in denial–hoping this hot girl wasn’t really “like that”. But she was like that. She asked me what those pills I had taken with my meal were for. I went ahead and revealed that I had mental illness, and was on disability. She had nothing to do with me, from then on. And I’m glad (though I really pity the man whom she married, soon after)! But I digress.
As aforementioned, “little” is just one of the words that are cruel, when used in certain contexts. God knows how many others there are.