Or: What does it mean to be a woman? When do you find a sense of belonging? This has been described by many as ‘belonging to a tribe’, but this post will be about why we shouldn’t use that term.
The offensive usage of the term ‘tribe’
The other day I was helping a good friend with her social media campaign and the automated answer for a newsletter sign-up was “Welcome to our awesome tribe.” We received a couple of emails from indigenous people who made us aware that the usage of the term ‘tribe’ is offensive.
As a European person and non-native English speaker, I had to educate myself as to why. I had taken the word ‘tribe’ from various marketing guides, which always emphasize that you should find your ‘tribe’ to promote your product. However, just because various sources use a term, doesn’t mean it isn’t offensive to some people. The world is changing rapidly and we’re learning how to acknowledge the wrongs of the past and work toward a better future. Language is important in this context.
Why is this word problematic?
‘Tribe’ is a term European colonists used to classify indigenous peoples. It denotes that those peoples are uncivilized or savage. It carries with it all the stigma of colonialism, genocide, slavery, and white supremacy.
Moving forward and trying to break from this colonial narrative, it’s important to refer to indigenous peoples around the world as they referred to themselves before colonization, rather than continuing to use colonial terms.
Furthermore, we believe it’s also important to avoid those words altogether, and not to use those old stigmatized words in a new context.
I changed the wording in said newsletter welcome message of my friend’s project, and then we took some time to find a fitting replacement for the word ‘tribe’ in our own branding.
We started questioning what we wanted to convey. What does it mean to be a woman? We questioned whether the term ‘heroine’ was misleading. Do we have to put women with achievements on a pedestal?
We asked those questions in our facebook group, and got different answers. The verdict was, it’s hard to say what makes us female without falling back on superficial stereotyping: high heels, lipstick, fashion? Doh! A good comment pointed out the fact that we don’t want to read boring everyday stories. We want to hear – and tell – inspiring tales, of heroines.
After giving it much thought, Georgie and I agreed. We still don’t know what it means to be a woman per se and I’m glad there’s no short answer to that. Clear definitions also impose boundaries, and our blog is meant to show that boundaries can be broken.
Finally, we settled on The Heroine Voice. This blog wants to give a voice to all those stories, big and small, about women who managed to leave a footprint with their lives, hence becoming heroines of history.
Reading Georgie’s article “Sally Morgan – ‘My Place’ and The Stolen Generations of Australia” was a big step for me toward understanding the problem of the word ‘tribe’, shedding light on a part of Australian history I knew very little about.
Juliane is an award winning film director and producer, with more than a dozen short films and several features under her belt. She has given guest lectures on various filmmaking subjects in universities around the world. She founded this blog in order to connect with her ‘dream audience’, which is, if you read this far, you!