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View Diary: Pussies, Twats and Bitches (401 comments)

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  •  is it a deal breaker for you? (3.88)
    Or are you just being offended on someone else's behalf?

    Look, it simply isn't possible to go through life offending nobody. Somebody is always going to be offended by anything you do. And when you bend over backwards to try to please everyone the results are often quite silly and contradictory. Case in point: a large part of the country is now using 'African-American' instead of 'black', despite the fact that 'black' -- or some other equivalent racial, historical, or skin-color term -- is what we really intend. (Did you notice the flap during the 2004 campaign when 'African-American' was used to refer to Teresa Heinz-Kerry, a 'white' American from Africa?) All the while, most Americans continue to use 'black' in familiar conversation. It's just a silly semantic issue that occupies time spinning our wheels and does nobody any real good.

    I think the real issue is whether the community here actually considers it a problem or not. And call me crazy, but I suspect in this case that if you took a poll of women on this site they would have a collective opinion somewhere along the lines of "who the fuck cares?"

    Honestly, 'pussy' (in the sense of calling somebody a pussy) and 'bitch' are pretty gender-neutral these days. You can thank a generation of liberated cursing women for the one, and the gay community for the other. I'll grant you 'twat' -- it's a little more oriented at women, and it still has some shock value because it's used so little. But it's still just a word.

    So front-page writers, take it under advisement: It bothers some people. Point taken. Maybe when possible the stupid insults learned in 8th grade will be dropped and newer, fresher stupid insults substituted.

    But a deal-breaker? Come on. If anyone's deal is broken by something as minor as word choice from someone who is undeniably their ally, they're suffering from major hypochondriasis of the dealio.

    •  must agree here (4.00)
      you can't speak on behalf of all women!  if I've ever seen one thing drive women away from feminism, its an episode of being unwillfully "defended" by another woman who chose to get offended on their behalf...

      besides, half, or more, of the girls I know use those words all the time, and when I say that, I mean a lot.  they differentiate between someone who actually means harm to women, someone actually being threatening, and someone who's just joking around with their friends or whatever.  it kinda cheapens the subject matter to necessarilly equivocate the two.

    •  Don't pretend that common usage (none)
      has removed the misogyny.  I cringe every time Jon Stewart uses 'bitch' or its variants not in reference to a really nasty woman (even then I don't really care for the term).  I am really surprised how many here don't understand the obvious implications of using these sexist terms so broadly. And to top it off say that the conversation is unimportant.  Maybe it is to you.

      OK fine.  Do you get it if I call the Bush administration 'lying, cheating niggers'?  Do you get it yet?  Any racism in that?  You bet!  What if everone is calling everyone 'nigger'?  Does the racism go away?  Nope.  Think anyone who is offended by the term should just talk about something more important?  Do you get it yet?

      •  Except that... (none)
        nobody uses the word "nigger" like that to begin with! And if everybody did, then the connotations would gradually change over time. That's what's happened to these "sexist" terms. That's what the G&L community is gradually doing to "queer." That's how slang works. Do you need a diagram?

        Sometimes the jokes write themselves. Sometimes they run for President.

        by Sixfortyfive on Wed Jun 01, 2005 at 07:42:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think you'd be surprised (none)
      This diary is right on. I am a woman, and I cringe every time I hear someone, usually a man, btw, use these words to insult someone. Susan most definitely CAN speak for me, because I feel exactly the same way.

      If someone is telling you that the language you're using is offensive, why on earth would you argue the point? Use different words. There are so many other choices out there that don't disparage 51% of the nation's population.

      •  the distinction (none)
        Arguing that you find it personally bothersome is one thing. That's your absolute right. I personally think it's a little silly to get all bothered by things which are fairly common usage and are not intended as a group slur, but it's your choice.

        But arguments about political correctness all too often fall into the trap of worrying that 'somebody' might be offended. Not a specific person: a hypothetical person.

        susanw did just that in her comment; saying that it's not just that she's bothered, but going beyond that. Inflating it and saying that such words are worse than bothersome -- a deal-breaker -- for 'some women'. Right there is the precise moment where you lost me. (And believe me, I'm a strong supporter of equal opportunity in gender and everything else. You can thank my mom for her influence there.)

        It's a reverse strawman: positing a problem that doesn't exist so that you may bend over backwards to solve it. If 'some women' are going to take that as a deal-breaker, well, frankly that's too damn bad for 'some women'; there's nothing you can do to appease such overly-fragile hypothetical phantoms. Hypothetically speaking, if they existed I'm pretty sure they would've certainly taken their things and left the Internet a long time ago. In case you haven't noticed there's a lot of offensive shit out there.

        I am not arguing against Susan's point that it bugs her, nor yours that it bugs you. It's bothersome to some people. Gotcha. Good reminder, and when possible people should make an effort to avoid stuff like that. But is it really a huge issue? A deal-breaker? Um, I doubt it.

        •  asdf (none)
          You do not get to decide what is and is not a big issue for other people. It's not a big issue to you to use certain language, and that's fine. But you're doing exactly what you're accusing Susan of--making assumptions about the larger population--when you say you doubt it's a deal-breaker for people in general. There are plenty of people (real ones, not hypothetical ones) on this thread who are offended by such language and have said so. I have left other boards because of the sexism and constant use of words like (and including) the ones we're talking about here. I suppose that makes me a hyper-sensitive phantom, eh?

          Because there is a lot of offensive shit out there, does that mean that it's okay? We should be better than that.

          •  false equivalence (none)
            That's a false equivalence. The two positions are not the same: the position that 'the community doesn't really care much' is essentially the default. You can safely assume that about most things. On the other hand, claiming that 'it is a deal-breaker for so many people that it's important to change it' is an extraordinary claim. Therefore the burden of proof is on the person who makes that claim.

            You're right that I am suggesting that on the whole the community basically doesn't care... but rather than just claiming it out of thin air, I'm doing so with some evidence to back me up. By and large the community already enforces its own norms through comments and the rating system. If something is seriously offensive or someone is being deliberately nasty, that gets called out pretty quickly through responses and ratings. If something is only mildly bothersome or only bothers a few people it does not.

            'Unconscious gender bias' or 'misogynistic vocabulary' or whatever you'd like to call it does not generate much of a response here. If you call Ann Coulter a stupid venomous bitch you'll get women and men both clamoring to agree with you, and not a single comment saying 'you asshole. don't use that word to refer to women, even Ann Coulter, because I find it offensive'. That's acceptance by the community.

            If you want something to change, start speaking up when you are bothered. If it's not important enough for you to speak up about, then why should anyone feel it's important enough to change?

            •  Because (4.00)
              Speaking up gets exhausting. And we get tired of being viewed as humorless jerks. So after a while, we just learn to put up with the bullshit. If you aren't a topdog, it's a position you get used to feeling comfortable with.  

              Next NYC Kossak Meetup is in June. Email me for details!

              by JaneKnowles on Wed Jun 01, 2005 at 02:03:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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