22 January 2009

Language matters

I am so very sick and tired of seeing so-called progressive bloggers using sexist terminology when referring to female conservative bloggers they don't like. And I'm really sick of seeing it on one of my favourite blogs. (*cough* Canadian Cynic *cough*).

I have no problem with calling these women (and men) morons, idiots, stupid, brain-numbling fucktards, vapid, evil bastards, etc. But when you start pulling out "cunt" and "bitch" to the extent where you've nicknamed the whole blog "stupid dumb cunt nation", you're being a sexist asshole. Even if you're otherwise an awesome blogger. And I'll grant you, that blog is such a steaming pile of shit, and its author is... well, it's hard to find words to describe just how blackhearted she is. I'd say Cheney-esque, except that she's not nearly as clever.

I admit it. I used to be a sexist asshole too. I would use these words for women I hated. I had a boss who seemed to bring out the big c-word from me virtually every day. My GOD, she was a horrible seething scab of a woman. I used to have nightmares about going to work. But it is not okay to call her a cunt. Nor is it okay to call that infected assboil CC hates so much a cunt. Even though she really and truly deserves no respect. Seriously, like none.

Here's the thing though. The rest of womankind does. Calling a woman a cunt is no better than calling a black person a nigger. We are both oppressed, both undervalued, both treated as second class citizens (and no, I'm not going to play the Who is More Oppressed? game. We both are, and there's no quantifying it). Sexist and racist terminology is not okay just because the person it's directed at is a giant *douchebag. Seriously, can you call Michael Vick a nigger because he's an evil, puppy-torturer? HELL NO! And nor should you. It says that part of your problem with him is his colour. In the same vein, calling a woman a cunt says that part of your issue is that she's a woman. And that says none of us are completely okay with you.

There are lots of words like this. Some more accepted (though not acceptable, IMO) than others. For example, "That guy is such a fag! but I'm not homophobic!" "What a retard! But I have no problem with the disabled." Now, these are different (though not really okay either) because they're used for someone who isn't actually a member of that community. That "fag" probably isn't gay. But if you're using the term to be insulting, you're saying it's not okay to be a member of that community. And that "retard" is probably just someone who is monumentally stupid, and not actually mentally disabled. But it is colossally disrespectful to the disabled to use that term as an insult.

Somehow it seems worse to me to call someone who is actually a member of an oppressed or underprivileged class a slur that targets their entire class. Even if they deserve it for their behaviour. It says that it's more than your behaviour I hate. It's also the fact that you're female. It's also the fact that you're black. Because if it weren't, I wouldn't use a word that is only useable against someone in your category.

*Douchebag is a word I'm okay with simply because it's a tool of patriarchy, totally unnecessary, and generally irritating to vaginas.


Chimera said...

Did you know that it's only in fairly recent times that "cunt" became an unacceptable expression? Chaucer used it frequently in Canterbury Tales. The name Kent is actually a variation of it, and calling someone a "berk" in cockney slang is calling him a cunt (from Berkley Hunt).

I got so intrigued with peoples' reactions to the use of the word that I'm actually trying to track down when it became unacceptable and why.

Etymology -- fascinating hobby!

Luna said...

Very cool! Thanks, Chimera.

I knew that it had become more derogatory over the years, definitely. But I didn't know it was all that recent that it became completely unacceptable.

I love historical linguistics. Watching how words change, how grammar changes. Fascinating indeed.