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View Diary: On Slut-shaming and Gay Men (115 comments)

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  •  Agree with you. (4+ / 0-)

    Subcultures adopt their own languages and terms.  An "oh gurl, please" is not necessarily anything other than bonding.   Context and tonality matter.   The performative elements of gay male gossipy banter are not necessarily indicative of a deep seated hatred of women.

    What senses do we lack that we cannot see another world all around us?

    by fearisthemindkiller on Sat Feb 11, 2012 at 01:00:49 PM PST

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    •  Oh, no doubt. (3+ / 0-)

      And in most cases, I'm pretty sure it's unconscious. If I were to mention this to my friend - "Hey, how come you only use 'she' when you're talking critically about someone? What's up with that?" I'm pretty sure he'd say it's entirely unconscious. There's no deep-seated hatred of women in that guy - not a shred. If anything, in his professional life he tends to take heat for being more supportive of the women with whom he works.

      If the gossipy banter were more balanced - if this particular cohort (it's not just him) used "she" affirmatively about those who they weren't dissing or critical of otherwise, that'd be one thing. They don't. It's purely used in the negative. And I'm almost entirely sure that they don't even realize it. It's a normative pattern, something that may've carried meaning before but doesn't necessarily do so for them now.

      BUT - it's also indicative of how linguistic patterns carry meaning other than what's necessarily intended by their speaker, but reflect larger trends in social perception. Our colloquial language is filled with these things. Hell, even though I identify as queer, it's not a word I use around this guy and his friends. They're 12-20 years older than me, and it meant something very different to them than it does to me. I definitely see that.

      "I like to go into Marshall Field's in Chicago just to see all the things there are in the world that I do not want." M. Madeleva, C.S.C.

      by paxpdx on Sat Feb 11, 2012 at 03:12:32 PM PST

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      •  Of course you are correct. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        paxpdx, commonmass

        Language is just symbols and the meaning of those symbols is not fixed but learned by cultural assimilation.  Thus a word can have one meaning in one context and another meaning in another context and meaning can change over time, or based on who's speaking, etc. etc.  

        And we have not even touched how slur words are used erotically in sex play.  This language stuff is just way too complicated to fully grasp, and you're right it's loaded with tons of unconscious baggage.  

        As far as the subject of this diary and thread, which has been really interesting, I would say I am generally pretty forgiving of people's unconscious assumptions (as I hope others are of mine).   But one thing I can grasp, quite well, is when someone intends to make me feel bad.  

        What senses do we lack that we cannot see another world all around us?

        by fearisthemindkiller on Sat Feb 11, 2012 at 03:59:23 PM PST

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        •  Well, and... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          commonmass, fearisthemindkiller

          Context really matters. The friend I mentioned above would step in front of a bus for me. Oh, he'd probably do it for anyone, but I KNOW he'd do damn near anything he could if I needed help. I also know that the fact that I am around in casual contexts where he's using 'she' in a critical tense is an indicator that he's not censoring.

          Slur words used erotically, BDSM - when is it safe, sane, consensual, and when is it not, and how can triggers send it from one side of that line to another - hugely complicated stuff indeed. Language is messy stuff.

          But yeah - I'm way more forgiving of others' unconscious assumptions. (I tend to kick myself repeatedly and berate myself mercilessly when I'm confronted by or see my own. <sigh>) There's a vast difference between language used among insiders in a subculture and degrading jokes about women's bodies. Oddly enough, I know no straight men who'd dream of getting away with the latter, but hear it from gay men way too often. Reclaiming their manliness by attacking women's womanliness just makes them look like idiots. There's gotta be a better way.

          "I like to go into Marshall Field's in Chicago just to see all the things there are in the world that I do not want." M. Madeleva, C.S.C.

          by paxpdx on Sat Feb 11, 2012 at 06:26:52 PM PST

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      •  I guess because we're all deconstructionists now, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        paxpdx

        in that any of us about 40 and under probably had lit professors who followed that theory--the relevant part being that words themselves have no intrinsic meaning to be very simplistic about it--context is everything.

        For instance, my references to "Queer theory" in the comments in this diary (upthread) are academic references. "Queer Studies" can be found even as a major in some sociology and history departments. Queer is used by some academics because it is inclusive not just of LGBT persons but other persons who's sexual and gender identities are "other". It is used by some outside the Academy for the same reason. It is also used by some younger LGBTQ people to take back the slur that so offended people much older than myself (in fact, I find it offensive unless used by a Queer person or for Queer political purposes by the Academy).

        So I can understand, paxpdx, why you are careful when and where and in front of whom you use the word "Queer". I am too.

        One word that is used by some Gay men which I think should never be used by anyone is "Faggot". I know the rationale is also "taking it back" in the same way that some African Americans use the "N" word, but I think it would be best if neither group used either of those terms.

        This would be off-topic and a complete other diary, this comment, if I went into where that naturally leads: racism and classism among gay men. A diary perhaps I'll write at some point.

        Santorum: Man on Dog; Romney: Dog on Car. equalitymaine.org

        by commonmass on Sat Feb 11, 2012 at 07:05:24 PM PST

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        •  I hope you do write it... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          commonmass

          I'd love to read it. I'm sure it's a lot more complex than might meet the eye.

          I was in Queer Nation in the late '80s/early '90s, and have never really liked the word "lesbian". Now that I've plunged myself back into the academy after being away for, oh, a generation, I'm seeing queer studies, queer theology, queer semiotics - and I admit, it's a little odd, as if we're the academic flavor of the month or something.

          But then again, I'm also an adherent to Michael Stipe's philosophy - "Labels are for food. Canned food."

          I'd really love to read that diary when you get around to writing it, though. Seriously. And thanks in advance for considering doing it.

          "I like to go into Marshall Field's in Chicago just to see all the things there are in the world that I do not want." M. Madeleva, C.S.C.

          by paxpdx on Sat Feb 11, 2012 at 10:07:55 PM PST

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