Stigma as metonym

Five dollar word: metonym, noun, ‘word used in place of a closely related word‘.

The Victorian Government recently launched strategies for hepatitis B and C, causing me to nearly fall off my chair — these have been ‘coming soon’ for nearly a decade.

vic hep C strategy poster
Don’t mention the war on drugs: ‘those most at risk and most affected’

A writer using the pseudonym ‘The Golden Phaeton’ has been covering the treatments revolution in hepatitis C for Harm Reduction Victoria.  Apart from being witty and carefully-observed, their articles are just beautifully written.

Writing about the launch of the hepatitis C strategy, The Golden Phaeton concluded with this incredibly sharp insight (sorry) into how ‘stigma’ gets used as a metonym within the respectability politics of the blood-borne virus sector:

It was only on the subject of stigma that I found any fault with the [Parliamentary] Health Secretary’s announcement. […] It was interesting that drug users were not overtly mentioned in the policy speech. Stigma was mentioned. Discrimination was mentioned. But never were we told against who these evils were operating. Almost as if the words stigma and discrimination were functioning as a code to be used in order to avoid having to sully the lips by actually mentioning injecting drug users.

You can read the rest of the article here and sign up for HRVic’s newsletter as well.