Loathsome words aren’t just clichés, jargon, and grammar lapses. They’re also seemingly benign expressions that spill easily from our mouths and fingertips yet have implications we don’t even think about—until we do.
One of my biggest pet peeves:
Loathsome phrase of the day: “start a family.” (If there’s two of you, you already are a family.) #loathsomewords
— Bill O’Sullivan (@billmatto) February 20, 2016
What this euphemism means is get pregnant—or try to get pregnant, or have a baby, or adopt. So say that. Start a family devalues any couple who doesn’t happen to have kids, for whatever reason. It even sells single people short, who may not have children but do have “chosen” families of friends—not to mention families of origin (the ready-made kind, no assembly required).
Twenty or more years ago, I would have said this expression was heterosexist, but now it’s in the everyday lexicon of LGBT people as well. (Though I have to say I still hear it more often from straight people. Just saying!) For the sake of all the ways to be in the world, it’s time to put an end to start a family.