des femmes

des femmes, defamed...

Nuances: who owns the words

Simbaud stopped by and asked some hard questions. He noticed I haven't called out any women for using pussy or so-&-so's bitch. There are a mishmash of reasons why; here are the ones I could put to words, in no logical order:

  • The women's usage doesn't threaten me the way the men's does. When men say pussy instead of coward, their tone turns ugly with contempt. It's frightening, and self-defense drives me to anger.
  • Enough people already tell women what they can and can't say or do.
  • Each person has the right to define themself. It's their choice, not mine, what they call themself, no matter how I may cringe.
  • I don't want to get involved with any "us versus them" among women. Dissension is a tool for the people who abuse power.
  • It disappoints me and I don't want to think about it.
  • The men are the ones who relish these insults. When the men stop, the women will stop.

Simbaud continued,

"The blogs mentioned above are two of my favorites. Should I stop visiting them..."

No! Stop visiting a blog on my say-so? I'm the arbiter of nothing. I just want the insults to stop.

"...and -- more to the point -- should you delete them from your blogroll?"

The blogroll isn't about gathering a list of women who sound just like me. If that were the point, I could just shut down my computer and talk into a mirror.

Simbaud added,

"Do you plan to go after bloggers who use the homophobic terms 'sucks' and 'blows'?"

Or worse, "cocksucker."

Where to stop? Complain too often, and people stop listening (if they ever were). I decided to stick with those words that assaulted me specifically. Am I being spineless? Comments welcome.

"Next question: what are we to do with those groups and individuals who believe that, by co-opting and/or ironizing such terms of opprobrium as 'queer' and 'nigger,' they have removed a powerful weapon from the bigot's holster?"

Gut feeling: I have no right to tell someone else how to name themself. I can only choose whether or how closely to associate with them.

Thoughts, anyone?

Mithras said:

Am I allowed to call them "dicks" and "dickheads"? (After all, they were wearing those penis hats in the convention hall.) Or would men get their feelings hurt? "Assholes" is unisex, so does that make it okay or doubly bad?

Sounds like Mithras may be pulling my leg, and I'm tempted to tell Mithras to stand in the corner for fifteen minutes for typing those potty words.

I hate the words "dick" and "dickhead," but right now I'm selfishly ignoring them, not approving them.

(Those penis hats are hysterically funny, aren't they? I wonder if anyone can look at one and see nothing but a happy elephant waving its trunk.)

(Didn't people use to sacrifice bulls to Mithras above a grate while soldiers stood in a tunnel beneath where the bull's blood would drip on them?)

Tikae came to the defense of Fafblog, Fred to the defense of Atrios.

I don't buy that their irony excuses the use of insults. Constant repetition fixes the insult into people's heads. Lots of people now think that Kerry served only four months during the Vietnam war. Some white people think any well-dressed black man is a pimp. Pussy, woman. Pussy, coward. Woman, coward.

Atrios might think he's elucidating the radical right's ideology, but he's actually spreading it for them. Surely everyone has seen one person needling some other person, one calm sly dig right after another, until the second person explodes, thus losing the control game? Atrios loses every time he interprets the conservative elite's ideology into sexist street talk. "I didn't say that," they can rightfully deny. Meanwhile, Atrios loses the ear of anyone offended by his language while narrowing his focus to address men only.

Same with Fafblog. If he'd used "girly men" instead of the contempt-filled "pussy," no one could point a finger at him without also pointing at Schwartzenegger. But he chose not to.