Feminism Friday: Reclamation: thoughts from a fat hairy uppity angry gimp bitch

This post started with me suggesting a FAQ on reclamation for the “Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog” blog: “But there’s a whole feminist magazine called Bitch and a book called The Ethical Slut, so why can’t I call you a slutty bitch?” I tried to write a one-paragraph answer, but things snowballed a little. Here’s my attempt at answering; I welcome yours, and have put in a few questions at the end.

I’ll open with a quote from Robin Brontsema’s “A Queer Revolution: Reconceptualizing the Debate Over Linguistic Reclamation”:

Laying claim to the forbidden, the word as weapon is taken up and taken back by those it seeks to shackle, a self-emancipation that defies hegemonic linguistic ownership and the (ab)use of power. Linguistic reclamation, also known as linguistic resignification or reappropriation, refers to the appropriation of a pejorative epithet by its target(s).

As with just about any topic in feminism, when stripped to the bone, reclamation is about power. The patriarchal position is that people with power get to set the agenda, control the discourse, define people in pejorative terms, and decide what is or isn’t offensive – not only to themselves, but to others. They place themselves firmly in the subject position, and unilaterally assume the role of making decisions for less powerful people – the objects.

Feminism is about turning that dominance model on its head in every realm, including language. One recurring feature of feminist discussion about pejorative speech is that the person with the lesser power gets to decide what is offensive to them, and that we should be listening to their voices, not those of the dominant group. In the case of sexist language, women have the voices that count, the voices that all need to listen to. For racist speech, women of colour. For classist speech, poor women. For disablist speech, disabled women. For anti-lesbian speech, lesbian women. Fattist speech, fat women. And so on, and so on.

Linguistic reclamation is the re-appropriation of a term used by those in power to demean and disparage those in a less powerful group. One way in which women refuse the object position and reclaim their subjectivity is to take back control of pejorative terms such as “bitch”, “slut”, “chick”, “crone”, and “harridan”. Defused, a reclaimed word can become an in-group identifier, with a positive, powerful spin. It’s all about who gets to define “us” – “them” or “us”? Reclamation is about refusing to let others define your group, set the parameters, or establish the meanings. In some instances, reclamation is about reclaiming not just an arbitrarily-defined pejorative word, but about proudly reclaiming the pejorative meaning, when it is based in the fear of women speaking their minds, defending themselves, not letting their personal value be defined by their sexual worth to patriarchy.

Examples

Here’s a smorgasbord of examples of reclamatory language. Going by the principle of “In their own words”, I’ve pulled out snippets of discussion about or explanation of the specific reclaimed terms in a few cases.

Bitch magazine‘s About page:

The writer Rebecca West, back in the day, said, “People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” We’d argue that the word “bitch” is usually deployed for the same purpose. When it’s being used as an insult, “bitch” is an epithet hurled at women who speak their minds, who have opinions and don’t shy away from expressing them, and who don’t sit by and smile uncomfortably if they’re bothered or offended. If being an outspoken woman means being a bitch, we’ll take that as a compliment, thanks.

Linuxchix and its subgroups, “grrltalk” and “grrls-only” were the subject of a debate in which some interlocutors whined that reclamatory language was an inappropriate “Special Privilege!” for women:

I think it’s more about being ironic than about having special “privileges”. And the irony wouldn’t work if you aren’t a part of the group in question. [Cliff Crawford]

Insider language often can include the same words which when used by an outsider are derogatory but when used by an insider are a friendly sign of inclusion. [Shulamit]

The Ethical Slut author Janet Hardy takes this approach to defusing the word:

Slut has been used for many years as a way to shame women out of their sexuality. We think sluts are adults of any gender or orientation who love sex and welcome it into their lives in whatever form feels best to them.

And possibly the most taboo anti-woman expletive of all, “cunt”, commonly called just “the c word”, the one my grandmother steadfastedly refused to explain to my mother, has been reclaimed by feminists – including the author of Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, Inga Muscio. From the Library Journal review:

Muscio encourages women to reclaim the word “cunt”, rejecting its negative connotations and reincarnating it as a symbol of women’s power and strength. She invites women to disregard the derogatory messages they receive about their bodies and their womanhood: both “the anatomical jewel”, as she terms it, and the essence of femaleness.

Kate Townshend, in her War of Words article on The F-Word blog, discusses the reclamation of the word “Feminist”:

In order to effect a shift in the meaning of a particular word we need to use language in a more general sense to frame it. That we talk about feminism at all, that the debates still exist and are invigorated is a crucial and continuing victory. Male gaze has always positioned women as objects to be seen, decorative, visual creatures. Feminism and its associated movements announce women as creatures to be heard as well.

Blogger Bitch, Ph.D. explains her blogonym:

So I think that’s kind of the thing about bitching. If you’re doing it all alone, and it’s falling on deaf ears, and you feel powerless, it’s easy to feel like bitching is pointless. And that, of course, is why some people call other people bitches–to try to isolate them, marginalize what they’re doing, keep other women from joining them in bitching. But when bitchy women start bitching at each other, and then bitching together in a kind of bitches coven, it does make a difference. It makes you realize you’re not alone, and you do have the right to feel ticked off about whatever’s twisting your knickers, and hey, now that you mention it, my panties are in a bunch too, and why the fuck don’t clothing manufacturers make underwear that doesn’t ride up your crack? […] And the cacophany of bitchiness gets so loud that everyone else finally hears it and realizes that they need to move the hell over to where we are and include us in their conversations, and join our conversations, bring us into the party, or else the party is effectively over.

Reclamation isn’t limited to nouns. Just as Bitch PhD is reclaiming the act of bitching, other feminists are reclaiming adjectives: “angry”, “uppity”, “fat”, and even “hairy”, all terms used to denigrate and dismiss women who aren’t adequately submissive or ornamental.

Angry Black Bitch:

For the record…a bitch doesn’t need permission, tolerance or acceptance to celebrate the wonderful diversity that is me.

Empowerment gave me that.

You feel me?

Fuck you if it intimidates you…if you anticipated gratitude…if you prefer submission…if you are more comfortable with Toby.

Yeah…fuck you.

I stopped trying to put The Man at ease years ago.

Uppity Women Magazine proclaims on its banner:

This is a place for uppity women. You know who you are. You are a woman who refuses to keep your place, to limit yourself in any way, to live down to others’ expectations. You are a woman who gets up again and again, every time life knocks you down. You’ve learned how to survive. Now it’s time to learn how to prosper.

“Uppity” isn’t confined to antifeminism; it has been used in attempts put activists of all kinds into place, including people of colour and disabled activists. Ragged Edge magazine reviewed Harriet McBryde Johnson’s Too Late To Die Young:

The chapter “Art Object” is the story of her contretemps with the New York Times Magazine photographer sent to record her image for the “Unspeakable Conversations” article. But in Johnson’s recounting of the test of wills between a New York artist used to seducing her subjects into pliability before the camera and the immovable object that is the attorney Johnson at her finest, we see both the mindset of the “uppity cripple” — which most of us will cheer — and its very unsettling effect on those not used to power in wheelchairs coming from driver rather than battery.

“Protesting is contrary to the teachings of Charleston’s civil religion, politeness,” she tells us. But she’s an uppity crip, and her book is a manifesto for uppity crips everywhere: “I believe that living our strange and different lives, however we choose and manage to live them, is a contribution to the struggle.”

Krista Scott’s thesis “Girls Need Modems!”: Cyberculture and Women’s Ezines quote a FaT GiRL ezine article, “A Fat, Vulgar, Angry Slut” by Betty Rose Dudley:

I usually tell people that I am a fat, white, working-class bitch who comes from a small town in the slightly southern, mostly midwestern state of Missouri:I am an angry woman, a very angry woman: I am a slut. A fat, lecherous, rude, crude, and very nice slut: I am tacky and vulgar. I wallow in vulgarity, consume it with the hunger fat girls are famous for: I make words and music my own. I take back my power: I no longer give you the power to tell me who to be or how to behave: I am a vulgar woman. I am a powerful female.

The book Fat! So? and Big Fat Blog are in the forefront of fat-reclamation. The Fat! So? tagline is:

for people who don’t apologize for their size.

Big Fat Blog has taken a slightly different approach to reclamation, arguing for a broad, society-wide reclamation of the word “fat” – one not restricted to use by fat people.

Fat is a descriptor. It is what it is. Fat is fat. Fat is not bad. What’s worse is that actions like this put fat people, collectively, in a bad position. The supposition here is that we’re so “offended” by the use of the word “fat” that we don’t want anyone to use it.

Truth be told, I say go for it. This is a word that we should own and ultimately is a word that should empower. It’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s not something that other people should get in trouble for – no. It’s ours.

“The Bitch King” talks about power (read the whole thing at the link):

I transgress when I define myself.

Naming is power and naming myself gives me power. When I define myself, I become the subject of this sentence.

Because the Bitch King does not negotiate.

Western culture perpetuates this myth that god gave Adam the power to name. He named Eve, along with the rest of the world. This story is a cultural symbol of gendered power relations. Man becomes the center of the universe. Woman becomes a part of the scenery.

For too long, women have been the objects of naming, labeled by males, defined by patriarchal standards.

I write my own history because the time for revolution is now.

By defining myself, I exert authority and agency. I reclaim what has been taken from me.

Critiques

There are strong arguments made for the position that some words can’t successfully be reclaimed. That the terms are inseparable from their pejorative meanings, that the pejorative meanings are unreversible, and that attempts at reclamation are at best misguided, or at worst, counter-productive. Blackademic has written about her feelings about the controversies and debates on the reclamation of racist language.

lost clown, at Angry For A Reason, is pessimistic about all attempts to reclaim gendered language:

Men have defined our sexuality; they have defined words used to describe women’s sexuality and behaviors such as bitch, slut, whore, cunt, etc. Where are the positive words to define women’s sexuality? The lack of their existence is proof that women have never defined our own sexuality. When we attempt to “reclaim” these words, and give them a new meaning they remain hurtful to us, as they retain their original meanings and are still used negatively by others. An example: the American Heritage Dictionary defines the term bitch as “a female canine animal, esp. a dog” and “a spiteful or overbearing woman.” I am neither, and no matter how positively I use the term it will always mean a female dog and a spiteful woman. As long as we continue to use the words and behaviors defined by the oppressors we will never break the cycle of oppression; we will never truly be free. Female sexuality can never be reclaimed; it must be defined in the first place, something that has never happened. Reclamation is misleading, and an ultimate dead end. We can never reclaim anything that was never ours in the first place.

Dr. Crazy, at Reassigned Time makes the (rather obvious) point that changing language won’t put an end to oppression:

All language is gendered. All language regulates behavior, determines identity, and ultimately polices the individual. Claiming or reclaiming a particular word isn’t going to make language itself any less oppressive. At the end of the day, if we successfully “reclaim” Bitch, or Crazy, or Slut, or Whore, or Cunt, another word is going to crop up in its place to “oppress opinionated women and to marginalize stereotypically feminine behaviors in men and women.” The point in any project of reclamation as far as I can tell is not that it’s going to stop oppression. Rather, it’s to change the terms of the discussion.

This is, to at least some extent, an argument against a position that most reclaimers don’t take. The “strong”, deterministic version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in linguistics has been long since discredited. However, weaker versions of Whorfian linguistic relativism have retained currency and relevance under scrutiny, though they are the subject of many a late-night debate. In the words of Whorf:

We cut nature up, organize it into concepts, and ascribe significances as we do largely because we are parties to an agreement to organize it in this way – an agreement that holds throughout our speech community and is codified in the patterns of our language. The agreement is, of course, an implicit and unstated one, but its terms are absolutely obligatory; we cannot talk at all except by subscribing to the organization and classification of data which the agreement decrees.

(For a densely nuanced reinterpretation, read Mark Liberman’s take on Whorf here at the Language Log.)

Dr Crazy elaborates on her own moniker in the comments, hitting one of my pet peeves in the process:

my being “Dr. Crazy” is actually ironic, rather than some kind of meaningful appropriation. I mean, call me crazy, call me a bitch – whatever – don’t we have more important things to talk about?

Concerns have also been raised about commercialised corporate meta-reclamation: re-re-appropriation? Bitch PhD commenter Susan writes:

I love Bitch magazine, and am sympathetic to the goal of feminists’ reclaiming of the term bitch. However, I also know that the word bitch has been commercially appropriated as a “hip” fashion statement or as a “sexy” reference to being some man’s bitch. Kind of like the rhinestone-encrusted t-shirts I see with the words porn star emblazoned across the front. Either could be used as a reclamation of a term or as a questioning of ways women are stigmatized (for doing social critique or for ways we use our sexuality). But both could also be used to commercially co-opt that impulse in order to reinforce negative perceptions of “bitches” and porn stars.

I have my own issues with some “reclamations”. Women who are privileged to have never been involved in sex work commonly use the words “tart” and “whore”. They may have had these words used against them in anger as generalised misogynistic epithets – does this “lend” them the word for reclamation, or does their privilege, their position in the hierarchy allow them the unexamined use of these words? “Nazi” is my pet peeve – women labelled “boob nazis” and “feminazis” may be rightfully angry about being slapped with these terms by asshats, but are their reclamation attempts unproblematic in a post-Holocaust world?

Where are the reclamatory grey areas? What’s off-limits? Which words have you reclaimed? Have any of these examples made you think, challenged your assumptions, pissed you off? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.



Categories: gender & feminism, language

Tags: , ,

38 replies

  1. Wow. That’s a comprehensive overview. No wonder you couldn’t compress it down to a neat little FAQ entry.
    The grey areas are the difficult ones. I’ll have to think on this for a while.

  2. Hmmm … some words being “reclaimed” are more acceptable to me and others are less so.
    For example, I have no desire to reclaim anti-Asian slurs, they’re tainted with a history of white supremacist oppression and they sound too ugly to my ears. I know some people have but yeah, not working much for me there.
    As for anti-female slurs:
    “Chick” doesn’t bother me that much when used by women as a synonym for female acquaintances and friends, although it really really gets on my nerves when men use it to belittle women, like when they talk about “hot chicks” or “naked chicks”.
    “Bitch” bothers me a little more, but considering that it’s a term applied to strong-willed, opinionated, assertive women, I think those are positive attributes to reclaim.
    I don’t like “slut”, “whore”, “c*nt” (dunno if that sets off the spam filter) or sexually oriented slurs at all. I think that patriarchy has oppressed women on the basis of our sexuality for millennia, by reducing us to our reproductive systems.
    I have a post brewing about this, but “slut” really is a meaningless term – “slut” is applied to a woman who has promiscuous sex or to a young girl in precocious puberty who has big breasts, regardless of her sexual behavior – any woman who is “read” as overly sexual. “Whore” is a negative, insulting term applied to sex workers, but is also used for non-sex workers in the same way as “slut”. “C*nt” is really the worst – reducing women to sexual parts and implying that those sexual parts are something dirty and bad.
    I don’t think that those terms even exist without patriarchy. There would not be “sluts” because women would not be judged and labeled according to their conformity to sexual standards. There would not be “whores” because men would not feel entitled to sex anymore. There would not be “c*nts” because women would be regarded as human beings and female genitalia would not be labeled negatively. Just as I feel that racist slurs would not exist without racial oppression – racist slurs would be meaningless post-racism.
    Maybe “chick” wouldn’t either, because we wouldn’t infantilize women anymore, but it has less of the strongly negative misogyny than the other terms. Strong women wouldn’t be called “bitches”, but I think they’d still exist.
    Sorry, a bit of a ramble.

  3. I had the notion that ‘slut’ was somehow derived from ‘slattern’. Is that wrong? I am a proud slattern myself.

  4. In all honesty, I don’t like any slang word for woman/girl, because now I find them to be offensive.

  5. su:

    I had the notion that “slut” was somehow derived from “slattern”.

    It appeared as “slutte”, in Middle English. Language Log is the go-to place for etymological musings:

    The OED’s entry for slut is a little exercise in lexicographic sociology, with a surprising amount of conceptual continuity across the centuries: bad housekeeping, loose sexuality, general uppitiness and terms of endearment have been all mixed together since the middle of the 17th century. I was struck by how difficult it often is to assign the citations clearly to one sense or another, even more than in most cases of word-sense ambiguity.

    TLL has the whole OED entry, too.
    More at Mother Tongue Annoyances, complete with a clumsy ev-psych “joke”.

  6. littoralmermaid:

    For example, I have no desire to reclaim anti-Asian slurs, they’re tainted with a history of white supremacist oppression and they sound too ugly to my ears.

    It is interesting to compare pejoratives for different groups, in that sense. For example, “wog” in Australia has been not just reclaimed but close to defused — in some contexts. This may have something to do with Souther Europeans being considered “white” now (and hence the pejorative meaning losing some of its power) and also many people attribute its partial neutralisation to the very successful stage play “Wogs Out Of Work”. Its pejorative use is still there, however, and emerges in the context of soccer sledging or the Cronulla riots.
    Pejorative terms for Aboriginal people, on the other hand, are just about universally offensive.

  7. Thanks for the link Lauredhel. General Uppitiness, I salute you !

  8. Lauredhel –
    In the US, some Asians do have shirts that say “Slant” or joke about being “Japs”, but I don’t think it’s very common (also, Asians are usually stereotyped as being meek, middle class drones who are not into social subversiveness).
    There has been the attempt at reclaiming the N-word by blacks. I’m not sure how that’s worked out, because now a lot of white people call blacks the N-word and they’re like, “Well, you say it, so why is it offensive if I do? You must be a reverse racist” and you have the bizarre spectacle of middle-class white kids calling their middle-class white friends the N-word.

  9. Oh and re: slut, in Patrick O’Brian’s “The Post-Captain” (or one of the books in his “Master and Commander” series), a man is called a slut because he’s messy.

  10. because now a lot of white people call blacks the N-word and they’re like, “Well, you say it, so why is it offensive if I do? You must be a reverse racist”

    There was a fair bit of that around the traps after the Big Brother UK incident a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps I shouldn’t say too much here in case there are people who don’t want to see spoilers, but I posted links to the Youtube videos in a comment your blog here. It’s well worth watching the entire sequence, it’s a really illuminating glimpse into how “But I didn’t mean it that way!” racism works.
    This also brings to mind the time my ginger-freckled-white partner was affectionately called a ‘black cunt’ by his Aboriginal nephews (as they call each other). There are some complex dynamics going on there.

  11. hmmm… interesting.
    i like the word cunt. the etymlogical sociology of it all fascinates me. and i disagree with littoralmermaid somewhat… her logic doesnt stand up to me…
    cunt is a word that has awful connotations, and a bad social rep. but its a word that relates to my vagina… to the thing that ostensibly makes me a woman, and a proud educated one at that. it was men that elevated the word to a pariah status, and I for one claim it back – it was never their word to taint. i am happy to use the word cock or dick… (…”dicking fuck!”… or …”bollocking cockers!”… regularly ring out from my shameless lips…”) so why the hell not? and why is it that we are turning on each other, and not the rest of the world…. what about the pay gap? that lack of safe methods of contraception? womens mental health? work like balance? the NHS? the medicalisation of obstetrics? so many issues, so little time…
    gosh… for cunting sakes people… get your priorities right ;)

  12. that lack of safe methods of contraception? womens mental health? work like balance? the NHS? the medicalisation of obstetrics? so many issues, so little time…
    gosh… for cunting sakes people… get your priorities right ;)

    Oh, Tigtog and Guest Hoydens, if only we had written about some of those issues since June 2007! We’re doin it rong again!
    (p.s. Should a passive-aggressive winkie be grounds for automatic spamulation? Your Hoydenhosts need to know.)

  13. I think an amusing captioned picture concerning the need to lurk is in order.
    As for the NHS, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, beatplayer, but this is an Australian blog. Health care is an important feminist issue and something covered a lot here. You seriously need to lurk for a while.

  14. I think an amusing captioned picture concerning the need to lurk is in order.

    ?
    [source]

  15. i knew there was a reason i wasnt quite getting the thread and attitude of the comments!
    its an interesting social anomaly that cunt isnt a word that is demonised as such in the UK, and it makes sense that this blog is foreign…
    the cultural differences are bleak here ladies… the response to a comment… a picture of a kitten.
    you are right ladies… and i am ‘rong’. your discussion of language, particularly the aversion to underhand humour and your inclusion of pictures of kittens are of a true feminist nature, and will take my mysogynistic passive aggressive musings elsewhere.
    =)
    congrats on managing in three posts to exclude and persecute a ready and willing contributor. what true strong independent women you all are.

  16. and on a final issue. you guys talk of racist language as if it has parity with the discussion with the persecution of over half the worlds population…. arent you the guys that have those race riots fairly frequently… isnt your government far right, voted in through a proportional representation scheme? ergo… aint most of you lot diiiirty racists?
    and re the health system. im just in the middle of a masters in medical law, regarding medical procedures that are forced on women. As far as I can see from my (fairly) detailed research… AUS really fails women.
    which i s’pose… actually lends more weight rather than less to my argument about actually getting something done? rather than formulating pseudo-witch covens on the internet to exclude those women that dont have the same attitude, sense of homour or perspective than you….
    in the UK, we have a modern movement within the feminist wave, which discusses the need for women to pull together, rather than attack… this is the problem currently with the UK’s glass ceiling at work etc… high achieving women will not promote women, because of exactly the behaviour shown on this page…
    hey ho however, im seeking refuge within the polite and ordered UK web pages from now on… good luck…

  17. Beatplayer, read some of the rest of the blog before you assume you know what we spend all of our time doing. If you can’t find anything about – oh, say, our health system – it’s because you haven’t bothered to look.
    If you don’t want to be considered an ignorant concern troll, one of the better ways to go about it is to not act like one. This page might help a little. And this one.

  18. Studying for a Masters in medical law and you don’t know how to use capital letters or other forms of punctuation ?

  19. [deleted. ~L]

  20. nd tht ws dltd bcs??? hm trths pr chnc??? wht lvl fr nd fr sct y hv. ts n wndr th fmnsts r ngr nd nt-scl…
    [disemvowelled ~ tigtog]

  21. …anyone who hasn’t noticed that this blog is sourced from Australia clearly is in need of a bit of…oh hell, I don’t even know what.

  22. Note the rank hypocrisy on display in earlier comments in the light of that last disemvowelled phrase:

    congrats on managing in three posts to exclude and persecute a ready and willing contributor. what true strong independent women you all are.

    You must really think we came down in the last shower. Your comments stank of Disingenuous Provocateur from the first, and then you rapidly fall back on the whole “you’re so angry” attempt to dismiss feminist concerns.
    Any future comments from you that do not abide by our commenting guidelines will be deleted without comment.

  23. I think if beatplayer isn’t familiar with LOLcats, our buddy needs to lurk moar not just on Hoyden but on the Internet in general. Yes, proportional representation is Teh Evol, as are we racist, voting, rude and cat-loving participnts in a baaaaad health care system. Oh, Medicare, Medicare, you have given us cause for shame in the company of our visitor. We got you in 3 comments? Well congratulations, ’cause you absolutely cut us down to size in 2. Be seeing you.

  24. I keep thinking of your “concern troll is very concerned”, Tigtog. :)
    Actually, I’m kind of glad that this post came up again, because I’ve noticed, in a few communities lately that are primarily made up of female contributors, that the term “bitchez” tends to get thrown around a lot (and I’ve found that it’s started slipping into my thoughts a bit), and I think there’s a lot to unravel there. I mean, where I see it, it generally seems to be used in a context where it’s associated in some sense with “I was/am right”, which implies that being a “bitch” (ie, being a female) is associated with being “less than”, but at the same time it is only acceptable to use it in this sense if there is a sort of tongue-in-cheek context — it would be offensive if there wasn’t a tacit understanding that it’s meant somewhat ironically, and the presence of that tacit understanding means that the term has very different connotations within the confines of that community than it would when used elsewhere.
    And that’s not to say that it’s use is unproblematic, or that it shouldn’t be questioned, but from an anthroplogical linguistics standpoint I find it fascinating as to how it operates on several different levels.

  25. I’m very late to the party, but Iwould like to point out that human anatomy and its products have been the basis for a fair number of insults. There are a fair number of similar words (e.g. dick, bollocks) for males too, it’s not merely confined to females.
    Let’s not forget about arsehole too.

  26. Brainfart: This post isn’t about male people, male body parts, or words for same.

  27. No, it’s about power in language, thought and perceptions. I understand that, I read the post.
    I felt that it was necessary to point out that while there have been plenty of demeaning and derogatory words that are derived from the female anatomy or commonly directed at females, there are also plenty for the male gender. A quick look at any of the less savoury places on the Internet will acquaint you in their…frankly, rather creative uses. :P
    Language is language, it evolves with the people who use it. If anything, many of these insults indicate that the the flaunting of female sexuality is still a taboo in our supposedly modern and open society. Men have been socially conditioned by mass media to act in a different manner, so they have a different list of taboos and different forms of insults. It’s not all about the patriarchy making a concerted effort to ‘keep dem bitches down’.

  28. Men have been socially conditioned by mass media to act in a different manner, so they have a different list of taboos and different forms of insults. It’s not all about the patriarchy making a concerted effort to ‘keep dem bitches down’.

    Well aren’t you just a super-evolved little “equalist” snowflake? I am so not in the fucking mood for this. Go read some 101.

  29. Brainfart:
    The problem with using the “Patriarchy Hurts Men Too” argument, especially in a post such as this, is that it derails the conversation from the impact of patriarchy (in this case, gendered language used as insults and the reclamation of same) on those who don’t have the power. I don’t think anyone would deny that you have a point, but the point you are making is not the same as the point Lauredhel is making, and mentioning it here just refocuses the conversation away from the point Lauredhel is making. The reason this is bad, in this case, is because 1) there are plenty of places where people talk about the impact of various cultural issues on men and 2) when not otherwise specified, a discussion of cultural issues almost always devolves to the assumption that the default is male.
    A free piece of advice, in order to reduce the amount of vitriol thrown at you: in a space devoted to feminist concerns or feminist discussion, just let it go and let the discussion happen. In this case, it’s literally not about you. You may have a good point, but there’s a time and a place for you to make those points; the world is full of places for people to talk about men’s issues and places where the discussion assumes a default male identity, and trying to bring men’s issues or the default male identity into a space that’s specifically identified as female-focused or feminist is disrespectful derailment.

  30. You seem to have mistaken my aim completely, I merely meant to point out that gender-specific insults exist and are in common use for both genders. It’s not the patriarchy at work here, it’s dumb people. People label without fully understanding the motives and perceptions of the other party, and we all know how virulent simple ideas like that can be.
    Seeing as the OP is being deliberately belligerent I shall cease my participation in this discussion. Nothing productive is like to come of her future replies.

  31. Shock horror, special snowflake just doesn’t get it and blames the moderator.

  32. I felt that it was necessary to point out that while there have been plenty of demeaning and derogatory words that are derived from the female anatomy or commonly directed at females, there are also plenty for the male gender. A quick look at any of the less savoury places on the Internet will acquaint you in their…frankly, rather creative uses. :P
    Yes, dear, that’s lovely — and a critique of those slurs could be made using the exact same feminist framework Lauredhel uses in her post.
    Or could you just not bear for the focus not to be on *you* for a moment too long? There are troubles in the world besides those that plague the privileged, you know.

  33. su/Lauredhel, the Middle English Dictionary has the current sense of the word slut (“a lewd or lascivious woman”) dating back to 1475 – and it doesn’t come from slattern, which came into English via Low German in the 17th century:
    slutte (n.) Also slut(e; pl. slottes.
    [?From OE (WS) *slet, *slt sleet, slush, with root vowel shortened; cp. ME sclot n., slt n.(1), slude n., Norw. dial. slutr snow mixed with rain.]
    (a) A dirty or slovenly person, usu. a woman; a lewd or lascivious woman [quot.: ?a1475]; (b) a scullery maid; (c) a beast messy or difficult to prepare as food; (d) ?mud, slush; — in surnames and place names only [see Smith PNElem.2.128].

  34. (a) A dirty or slovenly person, usu. a woman; a lewd or lascivious woman [quot.: ?a1475]; (b) a scullery maid;
    Yes– in some early versions of Cinderella, the ugly sisters taunt her by calling her “cinder-slut”.

  35. You seem to have mistaken my aim completely, I merely meant to point out that gender-specific insults exist and are in common use for both genders. It’s not the patriarchy at work here, it’s dumb people.

    Nope. And right now I’m seeing A2, A5, C1, D3, and E5. You’re not bringing a new and unique insight to this conversation, Brainfart.

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