I started out looking for a simple opposite for the word “urbanite.” Something that referred to people who did not live in urban areas, but who didn’t necessarily live on farms, either.
Hmm, searching “urbanite antonym” was not much help. Dictionary.com listed no antonym. Surely non-urbanite wasn’t the only viable word?
So I thought, “Ruralite?” and looked that up. Oops. The Urban Dictionary defines a ruralite as a “person who insists that they live in “the country” even thought they really just live in the suburbs or a satellite city. Usually in gated communities filled with 1/2 million dollar homes stacked right on top of one another. They typically drive the largest SUV’s and behave the most obnoxiously on their cell phones.”
That definitely wasn’t what I was going for!
How about “rural dweller?” Um, no. Online Slang Dictionary provides the following synonyms for rural dweller: hayseed, hick, hillbilly, redneck, yokel–and that’s only a sampling.
By this time my friend Margaret was onboard helping me search for this elusive word. She suggested “rustic.” If anything, this was even worse. As a noun, a rustic is a “person from the country, with little experience,” says Thesaurus.com. Synonyms include boors, peasants, provincials, backwoodspersons, and. . .farmers?
Where’s the respect?
I find this sobering. Roughly 80% of North Americans live in cities. If the only view they have of non-city-dwellers is that they are hillbillies, hicks, and yokels–with farmers lumped right in there equally–no wonder our food supply is in grave danger.
You think I’ve jumped to an unrelated conclusion? I don’t believe so. Growing food isn’t taken seriously. Farmers are uneducated and boorish? Get a grip on reality, City Folk!
Your food supply is at risk. Very at risk. Instead of looking at your country cousins as less than yourselves, as country mice, allow us a respectful definition.
Let’s go with ruralist. This is one who resides in a rural area and is an advocate of rural life. Plain and simple. Not condescending, not romanticizing.
I’m proud to be a ruralist and a farmer.
How powerful are words? What do you think?