Please reconsider the use of the term "butthurt".
March 8, 2013 5:31 AM   Subscribe

Please reconsider the use of the term "butthurt".

I am under the impression that for most people, for X to say that Y is butthurt means that Y is bothered by some circumstance C, which X believes is actually trivial and not worthy of the strong reaction Y has given. But for some survivors of anal rape, it implies that Y is bothered by some circumstance C where C is analogous to anal rape, which X believes is actually trivial and not worthy of the strong reaction Y has given. If that is not the meaning you intend to convey, please find an alternative phrasing.

Nominally prompted by some comments in this post, but of course this word is used pretty much everywhere on the internet.
posted by Jpfed to Etiquette/Policy at 5:31 AM (467 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

I agree, this always struck me as a surprisingly and disturbingly graphic word to use when describing what the commenter thinks is a trivial situation.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 5:34 AM on March 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


I've thought the same thing, but it makes no sense under that interpretation since anal rape would not be trivial.

I think it must actually derive from little children falling down and saying, in a baby voice, "butt hurt".
posted by DU at 5:38 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


For those who didn't catch it in the extremely long "Surely this" Metatalk thread, there was some discussion of this also here.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:38 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I try not to use it anymore because people do associate it with rape, but I would be interested if someone could show proof that this interpretation is actually where the word came from because I never, ever read it that way before people started bringing this up. It always seemed to point to a trivial annoyance being complained about like when you called something a "pain in the butt."
posted by Drinky Die at 5:46 AM on March 8, 2013 [38 favorites]


I always took it to mean "saddlesore" or "coccydynia", the literal pain of the coccyx when someone is sitting for far too long.

To look at the word "butthurt" and envision unwanted sodomy reveals more about the offended party than the user of the term.

However, as a magnanimous gesture, I will refrain from using that term on this site and her affiliates.
posted by Renoroc at 5:47 AM on March 8, 2013 [25 favorites]


This interpretation of the meaning of butthurt seems to me odd. I've never taken it as having anything to do with anal rape. If there's evidence to the contrary, I am willing to be persuaded on the matter. But there mere chance that the victim of a crime could misconstrue a harmless word as a reference to the crime does not seem to me sufficient grounds for censorship, self- or otherwise.
posted by Diablevert at 5:52 AM on March 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


To look at the word "butthurt" and envision unwanted sodomy reveals more about the offended party than the user of the term.

Exactly. Which ought to shock the user of the term to silence, remorse and future caution.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:53 AM on March 8, 2013 [24 favorites]


As always, it's not really about the etymology - that's a separate conversation. What matters is that certain words and phrases cause emotional responses or mental imagery that some people find distressing. Not using these words and phrases in a public forum is just about being considerate towards other people.
posted by pipeski at 5:53 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I try not to use it anymore because people do associate it with rape, but I would be interested if someone could show proof that this interpretation is actually where the word came from because I never, ever read it that way before people started bringing this up. It always seemed to point to a trivial annoyance being complained about like when you called something a "pain in the butt."

As a gamer, I have always seen it used in conjunction with the use of "rape" to mean total victory. The connection is fairly natural in my mind.

I don't have any etymological proof of the imagery evoked in my mind by the word, but I also believe that if that imagery is evoked in enough other people's minds, it would be ineffective communication to use the term when that imagery is not desired.
posted by Jpfed at 5:55 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


As an online gamer myself going way way back, that doesn't match my own anecdotal experience which is why this whole thing confuses me. I also don't know that the rape interpretation is in fact that widespread. As I said from the start though, this is one of those better safe than sorry type situations, there are plenty of other words to use instead.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:59 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder how long it will be before we can only comment here after making sure we pass this test?
posted by Grither at 5:59 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wonder how long it will be before we can only comment here after making sure we pass this test?

Being a considerate person is not a test one passes. It is an ongoing process that involves considering others' feelings as if they are relevant. Enough with this petulance.

(Look! There are many English words you can use to call somebody a cranky, irritable child! Some of which don't evoke imagery of anal rape!)
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:02 AM on March 8, 2013 [39 favorites]


Jpfed is right as far as I can tell. I encountered the use of this word in an MMORPG setting.

It always referred to resentment at being beaten. The implication was always that someone had gotten fucked and was unhappy about it.
posted by ServSci at 6:03 AM on March 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I have always figured there was a relationship between butt hurt and sodomy because for the most part the people I see using butt hurt are the same people I see using gay as a slur.
posted by Mitheral at 6:03 AM on March 8, 2013 [23 favorites]


What matters is that certain words and phrases cause emotional responses or mental imagery that some people find distressing. Not using these words and phrases in a public forum is just about being considerate towards other people.

I tend to share that view. But not absolutely. If I nearly drowned when I was a kid, am I entitled to demand that nobody use a phrase like "drowning in paperwork" because for me it evokes and trivialises a traumatic experience? I would say no.
posted by Diablevert at 6:03 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


To look at the word "butthurt" and envision unwanted sodomy reveals more about the offended party than the user of the term.

I have no problem with what it reveals.
posted by Jpfed at 6:04 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


but it makes no sense under that interpretation since anal rape would not be trivial.

In a caring society, rape wouldn't be trivial, but rape is seen as trivial and laughable by many (e.g the casual threats of sexual violence launched at women bloggers and prison rape jokes). I do find it interesting to hear people never associated the term with rape because I've only associated it with rape.
posted by audi alteram partem at 6:04 AM on March 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


for X to say that Y is butthurt

I am happily unfamiliar with this term. So I look into the link provided, searched on the offending term, and without naming names found this comment:

"While I'm glad I missed out on the parade of butthurt MRA manbabies upset about this project,"

In that context, it's pretty clear how the word is used.
posted by three blind mice at 6:07 AM on March 8, 2013


I tend to share that view. But not absolutely. If I nearly drowned when I was a kid, am I entitled to demand that nobody use a phrase like "drowning in paperwork" because for me it evokes and trivialises a traumatic experience? I would say no.

I'm an asker, not a guesser. I'm not demanding, I'm asking. And in case it matters to the calculus of your decision, rape is surprisingly common, and I have no doubt that in this thread you will see empirically that many people share my interpretation.
posted by Jpfed at 6:08 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rory Marinich: "Being a considerate person is not a test one passes. It is an ongoing process that involves considering others' feelings as if they are relevant. Enough with this petulance.

(Look! There are many English words you can use to call somebody a cranky, irritable child! Some of which don't evoke imagery of anal rape!)
"

Ah, I see....so it's perfectly alright to be a big old meanie to one person directly, as long as the words you use don't inadvertently offend someone else who might be reading your comment? Gotcha.

uh oh! I hope no one takes offense at my use of the word 'big' or 'old' or 'meanie'!
posted by Grither at 6:09 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's political correctness gorn maaaad...
posted by pipeski at 6:11 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


To those of us of a certain age, the term conjures up visions of hemorrhoids rather than sodomy.
posted by jonmc at 6:11 AM on March 8, 2013 [19 favorites]


Your butt might hurt even if you have consensual anal sex.

Not that it isn't a stupid term. We can do better than 12 year old boys, people.
posted by chunking express at 6:11 AM on March 8, 2013


As always, it's not really about the etymology - that's a separate conversation. What matters is that certain words and phrases cause emotional responses or mental imagery that some people find distressing. Not using these words and phrases in a public forum is just about being considerate towards other people.

I agree that being sensitive is generally a good goal, but there is a line somewhere. Otherwise we get things like people being upset because someone somewhere used the word "niggardly" to mean stingy even though it has nothing to do with the "other" n-word.

It really does matter what the word means.

So what does it mean? Where does it come from? Know Your Meme seems to believe it comes from the 90s and was a metaphor to being spanked as a child.

There's no absolute right to avoid being inadvertently offended by words that are not founded in the offense imagined. I didn't use the word before, but honestly if I did, I wouldn't be swayed to not use it because you misunderstood it.
posted by inturnaround at 6:13 AM on March 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


am I entitled to demand that nobody use a phrase like "drowning in paperwork"

There's a difference between "being entitled to demand" that people not use rape-related metaphors and "suggesting it's more respectful of the community you're part of" to not use rape-related metaphors. Please reconsider the use of the term "butthurt" is clearly in the latter category.

(On the plus side, I learned this morning before coffee that there are people in the world who think the use of the word "butthurt" has nothing to do with forcible anal penetration.)
posted by mediareport at 6:13 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


What matters is that certain words and phrases cause emotional responses or mental imagery that some people find distressing. Not using these words and phrases in a public forum is just about being considerate towards other people.

Only if we're provided with a list we can all agree on.

People do not have a right to go through their daily lives without offense. People do not have a right to define the meaning of a word or phrase for others. People need to pull up their big boy pants (or girl pants) and go about a life.

If you can point at one instance where someone used this term to invoke images of anal rape and it survived moderation we can talk.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:14 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I struggle with the idea that because a word evokes a specific negative interpretation for a subset of people, we shouldn't use it. My anecdotal experience is so far from 'butthurt' as 'totally dominated', let alone 'totally dominated in a rapey way', that I actually wonder if the term sprung up in multiple groups around the same time. Certain gaming groups used it one way, certain fannish groups used it another, certain academic groups used it another. (Or a mad-libs fill-in-the-blank group of your choice uses it in another. I need more coffee.) Perceptions surrounding it are so disparate that it seems odd to me that it could've sprung from a single place and resulted in such a controversial interpretation.

I'm a queer person who's been anally raped and uses butthurt all the time to mean "Dude, you are behaving like a child who's fallen and is screaming their fool head off over a really minor injury. Get a grip." I think that Three Blind Mice's comment, above, supports this meaning--they're specifically described as manbabies. I think it's a usefulish term for many people, because "butthurt"--to me--reads as a gentler and more humorous way of saying "inappropriately immature and overreacting".
posted by MeghanC at 6:14 AM on March 8, 2013 [26 favorites]


All different interpretations aside.... It's just a crass term. Agree with Chunking, we can and should do better....
posted by pearlybob at 6:15 AM on March 8, 2013


A lot of people seem to be asking for an absolute rule, and there isn't one. Nobody's asking that we refrain from saying anything that might potentially have a bad association for some random person. The idea is that, when you learn that that association is fairly widespread, maybe you want to consider how effectively you're communicating what you actually think. We all adjust our language to the situation we're in.
posted by pipeski at 6:22 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


People do not have a right to go through their daily lives without offense.

No, but people have a right to say, "Please reconsider the use of this term" and not have it rejected out of hand because you believe you have an absolute right to never have to think about what comes out of your mouth.

Seriously, people. The OP is being pretty gentle about asking that we think about our use of one very specific word, and the slippery-slope rejections and dictionary-based refutations and "Well, I'm not offended by it, so it must not be offensive" responses are just coming off as petulant. Is this word so important to you that you cannot countenance the merest suggestion that it might not always be an appropriate thing to say to people?
posted by Etrigan at 6:26 AM on March 8, 2013 [64 favorites]


The Know Your Meme etymology is interesting, but it's not difficult to understand the argument that one of the reasons the word has taken off in recent years is because of its assocation with anal sex. Someone needs to get the LanguageLog folks onto this.

Also, what Etrigan said.
posted by mediareport at 6:35 AM on March 8, 2013


Ah, I see....so it's perfectly alright to be a big old meanie to one person directly, as long as the words you use don't inadvertently offend someone else who might be reading your comment? Gotcha.

This is also why we don't use 'gay' to mean 'stupid.' I'm glad you've caught up.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:36 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Renoroc: To look at the word "butthurt" and envision unwanted sodomy reveals more about the offended party than the user of the term.

I'm not sure I follow. What are you saying this interpretation says about me?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:39 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seriously, people. The OP is being pretty gentle about asking that we think about our use of one very specific word, and the slippery-slope rejections and dictionary-based refutations and "Well, I'm not offended by it, so it must not be offensive" responses are just coming off as petulant.

Yup. Since we have exactly the same conversation every single time someone asks "could we not do x," maybe the group that are so offended by being asked to possibly consider doing something that bugs another person could nominate one person to post the boilerplate response so we could get on with things.

I assumed it came from "pain in the ass," but the other interpretations are so obvious I have avoided it. Plus, it sounds childish (unlike the mature "oooh, Kitty!" which I approve of). I am not really sure why anyone would want to use the phrase, but evidently they do.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:40 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seriously, people. The OP is being pretty gentle about asking that we think about our use of one very specific word, and the slippery-slope rejections and dictionary-based refutations and "Well, I'm not offended by it, so it must not be offensive" responses are just coming off as petulant.

But if one continues to use the term that someone thinks is monstrous, won't people think they are a monster by extension? That's why people push back. That's why the need to clarify and correct.

"I wasn't a monster and I'm not a monster now. See?"
posted by inturnaround at 6:43 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh. I always looked at it in relation to spanking. Someone does something dumb, gets punished, and then is upset at the punishment. I don't think anal rape is a punishment for anything, so didn't make a connection beyond both of them involving butts.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:43 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


"While I'm glad I missed out on the parade of butthurt MRA manbabies upset about this project,"

In that context, it's pretty clear how the word is used.


Agreed, the proximity to manbabies makes it pretty clear it's the the "childish complaining" type usage.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:48 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


But if one continues to use the term that someone thinks is monstrous, won't people think they are a monster by extension? That's why people push back. That's why the need to clarify and correct.

For one thing, "monstrous" and "monster" are pretty far afield of the OP's gentle request.

But you know that he didn't call you out by name, right? The title of this MeTa wasn't "That inturnaround Guy Is Such a Monster For Saying 'Butthurt' That One Time A Year Ago." It's okay to just sit back and think, Hm. This person raises an interesting point. I believe that I will peruse my use of this word, and perhaps in the future I shan't deploy it with the frequency I have in the past. The OP and I weren't asking for a reconciliation process where everyone who's ever said That Word stands before a tribunal to answer for his or her crimes against butts, and is then formally ajudged "monster" or "nonmonster."

And if you continue to use the word after someone has told you, "Hey, it offends me when you use that word," well, then you do so knowing that you are offending someone. If the word is so vital to you that you feel its use outweighs that offense, then go right ahead. But don't expect people not to be offended because of your logical clarification and correction. That's not really how offense works.
posted by Etrigan at 6:50 AM on March 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


I concur. I absolutely abhor this term and would love to never have to hear it again.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:50 AM on March 8, 2013


I appreciate the request, Jpfed, and I will reconsider using that word (though I don't think I'd ever have used it anyway) but I really think these sorts of threads should be closed to comments. No good comes of the acrimonious discussion that follows. If a user wants to ask the rest of the userbase to avoid a certain term, they should certainly be able to, but I don't think it's worth arguing about for a couple hundred comments.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:51 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hmmm, I'm migrating over to " saddlesore" because I like the alliteration and old timey imagry it evokes.
posted by The Whelk at 6:54 AM on March 8, 2013 [26 favorites]


And if you continue to use the word after someone has told you, "Hey, it offends me when you use that word," well, then you do so knowing that you are offending someone. If the word is so vital to you that you feel its use outweighs that offense, then go right ahead. But don't expect people not to be offended because of your logical clarification and correction. That's not really how offense works.

Not always. But, like in the case of "niggardly", there could be people who are less inclined to be offended because of the truth.

Truth matters, too.

inturnaround, non-monster
posted by inturnaround at 6:57 AM on March 8, 2013


I appreciate the request, Jpfed, and I will reconsider using that word (though I don't think I'd ever have used it anyway) but I really think these sorts of threads should be closed to comments. No good comes of the acrimonious discussion that follows. If a user wants to ask the rest of the userbase to avoid a certain term, they should certainly be able to, but I don't think it's worth arguing about for a couple hundred comments.

I totally understand the thought. I was even tempted to ask taz to just close it up right away after her comment. My current take is that there may be some people that are kind of on the fence, who might be persuaded if they see enough people commenting to the effect of "hey, this bothers me, too". Also, there are a lot of people here that can speak more persuasively than I (and may share my perspective), so it would be better if they spoke on my behalf rather my perspective just being represented by my post.
posted by Jpfed at 6:57 AM on March 8, 2013


Well if I can't say b@@@&$%t then my life will be over and I will be thrown in a dungeon by language police overlords ruling the land with tyranny and evil domination. We'll be forced to hold hands, sing kumbaya, and *shudder* use our nice words.

It's a slippery slope here, and I don't want to slip down to those murky dungeounous depths.

My spell checker informs me that there is no word "dungeounous" but I know better. I know better.

Although, it might not be so bad if I'm the one in charge. My rainbow dungeon of forced kindness has some openings, for people who are, you know, into that sort of thing. I've got a whip made out of RAINBOW SPARKLE.

LOVE EACH OTHER NOW!!! -crack!- WE NEED SOME DISCIPLINE IN HERE! DISCIPLINE! USE YOUR NICE WORDS YOU DEGENERATE BEASTS!

(Personally I don't think anything bad about people who have used the offensive term in question. It is one of those, 'some people might be offended so I don't use it if I'm thinking' words. Sometimes I'm forgetful though. Once I said 'panties in a bunch' on a feminist website. YOU DO NOT SAY PANTIES IN A BUNCH ON A FEMINIST WEBSITE! So I discovered. )

"If a user wants to ask the rest of the userbase to avoid a certain term, they should certainly be able to, but I don't think it's worth arguing about for a couple hundred comments."
Since when is ANYTHING not worth arguing about?? PINK IS FACTUALLY THE BEST COLOR. DEBATE STARTS NOW.
posted by xarnop at 7:00 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


But if we closed out the comments on threads like these, how would we ever have any fun in Metatalk? Especially since we're not allowed to post recipes anymore.

Yeah, I'm still a little saddlesore about the recipe ban. :-(
posted by Grither at 7:01 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


My earlier comment definitely wasn't to shush-shush this discussion, just in case it seemed that way. The subject has come up a few times here and there on the site, so I think it's useful to talk about it. I only realized that some people are using/hearing the expression in this sense recently, and I'm glad to know about it. I wouldn't use it anyway, just because I think it's way tired and overused at the expense of more interesting observations I guess.
posted by taz (staff) at 7:05 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Know Your Meme etymology is interesting, but it's not difficult to understand the argument that one of the reasons the word has taken off in recent years is because of its assocation with anal sex.

I can understand the argument, I'm just not sure it's actually correct. It seems like an analogue to First World Problems to me -- a way of saying I (or you) am upset about this thing that I recognize as trivial and my feelings may even be inappropriate. And FWP has taken off in a way that has nothing to do with anal sex. I think people just like to project an element of self-awareness or request that other people be more self-aware in a way that seems vaguely clever and in-jokey.

That anyone thinks there are rapey connotations to butthurt comes as a hell of a shock to me. I'm not definitively saying there aren't or that isn't the etymology, but it gets widely used on a forum I'm on that is all over most instances of horrible language use (no using 'gay' or 'retard' as insults, for example) and is very trigger warning conscious, as well. So lots and lots of people that I know to be sensitive to these issues are completely unaware that this word apparently has those connotations.

Since people are genuinely bothered by this, I'll stop using it, because I'm not really out to make rape victims sad, but I think those people may simultaneously be bothered by it and completely wrong in their interpretation of it.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:06 AM on March 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


There's no established meaning for butt hurt, and to argue that it only means anal rape is paging Dr. Freud. It is a fact that one of the most common expressions for annoyance or tolerance is something becoming a pain in one's ass or butt (which could also allude to the notion that it keeps getting punished or kicked by someone).
posted by Brian B. at 7:06 AM on March 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


FWIW when I first heard the phrase anal rape is exactly what came to mind. Make of that what you will.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:09 AM on March 8, 2013


There's no established meaning for butt hurt, and to argue that it only means anal rape is paging Dr. Freud. It is a fact that one of the most common expression for annoyance is something becoming a pain in one's ass or butt.

I don't believe anyone is arguing that it only means anal rape. For some people, it is evocative of anal rape as explained in my post. Please reconsider using it.
posted by Jpfed at 7:10 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please reconsider using it.

I don't use it. I just can't condone censoring it.
posted by Brian B. at 7:13 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


A polite request that people not use a phrase is not censorship.
posted by Area Man at 7:15 AM on March 8, 2013 [37 favorites]


There's no established meaning for butt hurt, and to argue that it only means anal rape is paging Dr. Freud.

No one is insisting that it does. However, your dismissiveness seems to indicate that you think it cannot mean anal rape. As you point out, the lack of "established meaning" works against this point.
posted by Etrigan at 7:17 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, "pain in the ass" is a good counter-example. But again, there's a large element of prison-rape/punishment-rape jokes in the existing culture, which is surrounded by a somewhat less large conversation about the appropriateness of those jokes, so it shouldn't come as such a huge shock to members here that another member could see 'butthurt', think it refers to anal rape, and request that folks stop using it so much.
posted by mediareport at 7:18 AM on March 8, 2013


I do not consciously associate the word with anal rape, but it is one of the few words that every time I see it, I feel a jolt of physical grossness not unsimilar to that vaguely weird queasy feeling I get when someone puts their finger in my bellybutton. That "uck, please stop" feeling.

So I'm happy if I see less of this word everywhere, especially Metafilter as I spend a lot of my internet time here.
posted by ladybird at 7:18 AM on March 8, 2013


However, your dismissiveness seems to indicate that you think it cannot mean anal rape.

You can't have it both ways. Just because something might mean something doesn't mean it means something more.
posted by Brian B. at 7:19 AM on March 8, 2013


Well, this is a bummer. I don't think I associated it with anal rape before, but I'll try not to use it now. I mostly used to use it elsewhere on the Internet, I think. But thank you for raising this.

Also, this post made me think of this shirt, which I bought for my husband this year and which my 4 year old loves "reading" (not really, just has it memorized) and reenacting the parts of the bunnies, which is pretty hilarious. I mean, this post is not hilarious in any way and I totally respect it, but watching a 4 year old do this reenacting makes those 12 hours of labor and delivery all worth it.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:21 AM on March 8, 2013


There's no established meaning for butt hurt, and to argue that it only means anal rape is paging Dr. Freud.

Not a single person is saying that. There is no reason to be nasty about this. Someone asked, incredibly politely, if people would reconsider their use of this term. I don't use it on MetaFilter because to some people it evokes unpleasant imagery and I've got a big vocabulary and it's easy to find other terms that don't bother people. I'm not worried about the slippery slope. I'm not worried about censorship. If people saying "You can use that word, we'd just prefer that maybe you didn't." is what people are equating with censorship nowadays, I'm not sure what to tell them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:27 AM on March 8, 2013 [26 favorites]


However, your dismissiveness seems to indicate that you think it cannot mean anal rape.

Can't have it both ways.


As you said, "There's no established meaning for butt hurt"; there is a distribution of meanings assigned to it by different people. Some people assign it a meaning related to falling on one's butt, or spanking, or pains in one's butt, and some people assign it a meaning related to anal rape. Thinking probabilistically, when you use that term in front of a large enough audience, some people will assign it a rape-related meaning.
posted by Jpfed at 7:28 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can't have it both ways. Just because something might mean something doesn't mean it means something more.

Except, of course, that it does mean something more in this case, to a lot of people. Hence, you being dismissive.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:28 AM on March 8, 2013


Wow.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 7:30 AM on March 8, 2013


Ok, so, we could argue about connotations forever; as an experiment, if we remove any issue of the relation of the imagery to violence, is it not also a toxic way of dialogue, or rather, monologue (regardless of how much I intensely agree with criticism of the MRA movement). Because I happen to agree that "the muddied waters and half-truths of MRA arguments must be countered instantly with facts and refutations"; it is not the only way or time the phrase is used, I can see someone saying it about a request not to say it. It says to me:

"Your opinions, no matter what they are, as pertains to this, are pathetic, those of a child, and we don't listen to children".

It does say more about the person saying it than someone reading it (that is the nature of saying something). There is little wedge room for discussion once it comes out, because in one sweeping gesture, some commenter is able to shut down discussion on an issue, lest people who actually care about "issue x" be compared to "contemptible caterwauling children". Great, MRA is absurd, and infantilizing the foolishness, and harm caused by many of the positions they advocate may feel good, but it spreads to other topics, it appears in topics where there is far more room for legitimate dispute or argument. Whereas, asking politely to consider the phrase doesn't and will not shut down any conversation.

It is a side request conversation to think about a phrase. Polite requests to consider the implications of a phrase is not censorship. And anyone here posting their idle thoughts or base reactions to anything ought not to be so demeaned, to try to compare expressing thoughts to censorship is not conducive to open discussion, and borders on being what it claims it is fearful of.

Either own wanting to stand in line and protect the phrase, or accept that what is being called censorship is in actuality a polite request by people to other people to consider implications and meaning of a string of letters strung together. No one is taking words (do a search on the words that folks calling censorship use as the "banned words", they appear all the time [no words are banned, some are removed when they are ruining a discussion, by making the discussion all about a user or a word, rather than the topic at hand, but search for those words, and they are far from "censored"). But telling people what they may or may not think about, in this case the implications of a phrase on discussion, seems to be tending far closer to any example of censorious talk.

I think people just like to project an element of self-awareness or request that other people be more self-aware in a way that seems vaguely clever and in-jokey.

People using the meme of "lolFWProblems" (on the wider-web) is often not self aware; there have been multiple posts discussing harmful stereotyping, and closed minded many examples of that meme are (not to say that someone who has self depricatingly used it is bad, just to note how it is not so simply "self-aware", or rather, it may be "self-aware", but there is a fine line between self aware and small-world navelgazing).
posted by infinite intimation at 7:32 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hi onlyconnect! In case you didn't mean to make an inadvertent joke, bummer has other meanings too. Not that there's anything wrong with that!
posted by terrapin at 7:33 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


If people saying "You can use that word, we'd just prefer that maybe you didn't." is what people are equating with censorship nowadays, I'm not sure what to tell them.

I'd be happy to tell them that they're being cranky babies, personally.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:33 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Except, of course, that it does mean something more in this case, to a lot of people. Hence, you being dismissive.

As I said, my defense can't establish meaning or harm without assuming an established meaning. Yours is now projection.
posted by Brian B. at 7:34 AM on March 8, 2013


And if you continue to use the word after someone has told you, "Hey, it offends me when you use that word," well, then you do so knowing that you are offending someone. If the word is so vital to you that you feel its use outweighs that offense, then go right ahead. But don't expect people not to be offended because of your logical clarification and correction. That's not really how offense works.

Yes. The way offense works is that it is an emotional reaction. The mere fact that someone is having an emotional reaction does not mean that the emotion is justified. Someone else's offense is not a logical argument.

Sometimes, some people deserve to be offended. It can indicate that their priorities are out of whack and need adjustment.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:35 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd be happy to tell them that they're being cranky babies, personally.

Which is kind of what led to the word to begin with, according to KnowYourMeme.
posted by inturnaround at 7:36 AM on March 8, 2013


Inspired by onlyconnect, I propose changing the term to bunnyhurt.
posted by medusa at 7:37 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Using the phrase butthurt has always seemed like a great way to show you are the douchiest douche in doucheville who can safely be ignored entirely. I love how the defenders of the term like to terror out the "it just means you got spanked" defense. (And I'm sorry, no, there are people who use it imply anal rape.) Can you imagine people actually saying "I'm sorry I spanked you" on metafilter and not getting called out for it?
posted by aspo at 7:39 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sometimes, some people deserve to be offended. It can indicate that their priorities are out of whack and need adjustment.

Just FYI, there are sort of two parallel conversations going on here

- use of the word generally
- use of the word on MetaFilter

For some people the two contexts will be the same, for many other people, they aren't. I have no personal stake in whatever people choose to do with their non-MetaFilter expressive time, but a small amount of stake in how people choose to express themselves on MetaFilter. I'd be careful about this particular viewpoint when applied to Ask MetaFilter.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:40 AM on March 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


My findings have been that people who use "butthurt" are either crashingly unaware and my pointing it out to them will have no positive effect or they are absolutely aware and my gods I'm tired of arguing with people on the internet who should be able to take a little direction towards being kinder to the rest of humanity by now.

For what it's worth, initial use was absolutely referencing anal rape, and the people who have been blissfully unaware while slinging it left and right are often the same people who think they're being cute when they use "bling".

If only one person reconsiders after reading this thread, though, I think Jpfed's brave wading forth was worth the trouble and strife. Good on you, Jpfed.
posted by batmonkey at 7:41 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a survey point, I only ever pictured that moment when a kid learning to walk suddenly falls/sits on their butt and then cries, mostly in surprise.

But I don't use the term anyway and am happy to use it even less than zero if it conjures terrible imagery for others. That's just being polite.
posted by ead at 7:42 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a survey point, I only ever pictured that moment when a kid learning to walk suddenly falls/sits on their butt and then cries, mostly in surprise.

I remember this same thread topic coming up in MeTa before and previous to that I thought the exact same thing, i.e. butthurt = crying like a baby who hurt their butt.

But I don't use the term anyway and am happy to use it even less than zero if it conjures terrible imagery for others. That's just being polite.

Ditto.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:46 AM on March 8, 2013


I must admit to not being aware of the term. Happy not to use it. Being considerate costs nothing.
posted by arcticseal at 7:48 AM on March 8, 2013


Seriously, people. The OP is being pretty gentle about asking that we think about our use of one very specific word, and the slippery-slope rejections and dictionary-based refutations and "Well, I'm not offended by it, so it must not be offensive" responses are just coming off as petulant.

I don't think I've ever used the term "butthurt" on the site or in real life and have burning desire to do so

But frankly, the continuing requests to not use this term or that term on Metafilter has veered off into the ridiculous territory. It's a global medium and other than some broad guidelines or a few hard and fast rules, it's probably not helpful or useful to site dynamics to keep asking exclusions.

Also, enough with the "Hey, I'm just asking" please. You're not just asking asking, you're trying to find and build a community consigns on what words to use and then apply social pressure for said usage. Which, hey, happens in groups, but I do worry about Metafilter becoming a bit too prickly and monolithic in its though and verbiage.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:49 AM on March 8, 2013 [59 favorites]


I am unclear now - is there something wrong with "bling" or is it just particular usages of it? Because I use this word and do not wish to be thought a fool.
posted by squinty at 7:49 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember hearing the word butthurt thrown around in the 90's - it was meant in the "you got spanked" sort of way. No rape implied.

Now when I hear that word it is most often in the context of gamer shit-takling, usually right along side of comments like "I just raped your ass!" The same general meaning, but the connotation is now completely different.

I'm guessing that your exposure to gamer culture will shade your view of "butthurt". Since we are online here I assume that is a fairly large percent of people. So, I don't use the word and actually tend to be surprised when people do, especially ones that I would assume to be on the other side of the rape culture wars. It does come down to your experience, I guess, so keep that in mind even if it is a perfectly innocent word in your world. The negative connotation is only going to grow - you don't want to be like that old guy who's upset that he can't use a perfectly legitimate word like "colored" without raising eyebrows.
posted by charred husk at 7:52 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


(On the plus side, I learned this morning before coffee that there are people in the world who think the use of the word "butthurt" has nothing to do with forcible anal penetration.)

Honestly, that association is just not something that would have come to mind for me, and I'm (a) intimately familiar with all manner of anal penetration and (b, on the flip side) similarly incredulous about people who don't think "herp derp" makes fun of people with cognitive impairment. So we all have our blind spots.
posted by psoas at 7:52 AM on March 8, 2013


Hi, terrapin! I did not know that!
posted by onlyconnect at 7:53 AM on March 8, 2013


I am also one of those people that did not realize anyone thought it referred to anything other than being mad about losing a game ("being raped," in ever-charming gamer dudebro parlance) until it came up in MetaTalk. I confess to being a little shocked when people who are generally careful with their language used it.

Now, of course, I realize it is more widespread and has much less nasty connotations, but I will always wonder how it's meant when I see it used, because it could be dismissive but harmless, or dismissive and deeply unpleasant, and it's damned hard to tell from context. So if you generally would prefer people not think you're making a rape joke, maybe avoid that word.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:54 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a global medium and other than some broad guidelines or a few hard and fast rules, it's probably not helpful or useful to site dynamics to keep asking exclusions.

It seems to me like a pretty normal and healthy part of a large, heterogeneous group dynamic, personally. It's worth keeping in mind that these threads are always just prompts along the lines of "this bothers me" and then group conversation about that, usually with a lot of sussing out of people's varying experiences with a term or phrase or use of same or life experiences tying to why that is or is not a problematic thing for any given person.

We don't have a process, formal or informal, for nominating words for actual blacklists on the site. None of the mods are interested in that sort of thing, and we're the only ones who could actually enforce it if it were to exist.

Having conversations as a userbase about the impact of language on one another and outside readers is totally fine and probably a pretty good idea in general even if the conversations can be a bit tricky at times.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:56 AM on March 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


In my personal life when I meet people who say "You choose how you react to my words and behaviors and your emotions are your problem" it means they are perfectly comfortable sneering insults, making degrading comments, and doing actions that cause others to feel emotionally hurt and then put people down for being emotionally affected.

"Hey I had sex with your father in law on your wedding night but YOU choose to be offended by that. It's your problem."

When I hear people arguing from this position "I do what I want and others feelings are their own problem" I know I'm dealing with a person who may very limited ability consider or act on awareness for others feelings.

I'm not an ablist though, we're not all gifted at empathy and awareness. Incorporating people with very low empathy into social settings can be difficult. By the reverse incorporate highly sensitive people into social settings can be difficult. I am in favor of inclusivity (in community spaces like metafilter where open discussion and acceptance of various view points is encouraged) and sometimes that means asking for a bit of compromise on either end of this spectrum in tolerating others conduct and in managing our own conduct.

Also I'm glad I don't moderate a space like this. Metafilter IS a funner space to discuss things BECAUSE it's moderated and because they are pressures toward good conduct that facilitates conversations that go beyond screaming matches and insults. I'm sure we've all been to spaces where there is no moderation and clearly we're all here talking about this at metafilter because we LIKE a space that attempts to both moderate and provide opportunities for a variety of voices and ideas to be shared.

Butthurt is an insult. By that alone, you can probably say whatever your point is in a more tactful way. Sometimes there is NO nice way to tell someone what you're trying to tell them-- so being "nice" or "not hurting feelings" creates a stifling discussion arena. I'm not interested in that happening. But insulting people however we want and then saying "It's their own fault if their feefees get hurt" is just not a fun way to conduct ourselves (well not to people around us). At least by my preferences. There's got to be some degree of balance?


"Now when I hear that word it is most often in the context of gamer shit-takling, usually right along side of comments like "I just raped your ass!" The same general meaning, but the connotation is now completely different."

Agreed, that's how I've always heard it-- and I too was totally surprised to learn it had a very different origin and meaning than that version. Learn something new every day!
posted by xarnop at 7:58 AM on March 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


You're not just asking asking, you're trying to find and build a community consigns on what words to use and then apply social pressure for said usage.

Funny how people who get so prickly when other people even slightly poke at their "true motivations" ("Well, that's not what I mean when I use that word!") insist that they get to define other people's true motivations ("Yes, you are trying to censor me!").
posted by Etrigan at 8:01 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


cortex: Having conversations as a userbase about the impact of language on one another and outside readers is totally fine and probably a pretty good idea in general even if the conversations can be a bit tricky at times.

I agree. I didn't like earlier suggestions in this thread that it should have been closed to comments. I think people learned/are learning things here. Some learned that it has sinister meanings to some. Others learned it has fairly inocuous meanings to others. It's akin to the "spaz" situation, I think.
posted by inturnaround at 8:05 AM on March 8, 2013


I can give up "butthurt" but you'll have to pry "bling" from my cold, dead hands.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:11 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a general guideline: if you find yourself feeling offended by being asked to stop using a word that offends other people, your own offense should help you feel empathy towards the feeling you're provoking in the other person -- not cause you to get defensive and double down on it being bad for you to feel offended but it being okay for them to be offended.
posted by davejay at 8:11 AM on March 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


squinty: I'm a grouchy critter today and probably should have picked a different word, but the basic gist is that the original issue with "bling" was appropriation and the existing issue is datedness/out-of-touch.
posted by batmonkey at 8:14 AM on March 8, 2013


I'd always assumed it was more along the chafey than rapey end of the spectrum, but at some point someone on mefi mentioned that they associate it with sexual assault, so I refrain from using it at all.

If I really want to denigrate the fact that someone is unhappy about something, there are many other ways to do so, some of which are gentler, some of which are massively aggro, depending on how much of an asswipe I feel like being. But it's easy to come down on any point in the "How big a dickhole do I want to be today" spectrum while still avoiding this particular word.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:14 AM on March 8, 2013


Also I think I use fussy as my general go-to word for this, because I come from a half-WASP New England family where causing a fuss is the Ultimate Sin, so it's pretty much the harshest burn possible.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:18 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Well, I'm not offended by it, so it must not be offensive" responses are just coming off as petulant.

It's not different than "I am offended by it, so it must be offensive". All other things being equal, I am inclined to go with less restrictions and not with emotions dominating facts. Not all "offense" is created equal.
posted by spaltavian at 8:20 AM on March 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


We don't have a process, formal or informal, for nominating words for actual blacklists on the site. None of the mods are interested in that sort of thing, and we're the only ones who could actually enforce it if it were to exist.

Oh COME ON, cortex, you mean if I typed !%^*%$ you WOULDN'T just replace it with the cartoon-standard string of punctuation marks in order to placate the easily (and uneasily) offended?

I think NOT!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:21 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I remember this same thread topic coming up in MeTa before and previous to that I thought the exact same thing, i.e. butthurt = crying like a baby who hurt their butt.

Heh.

I always thought it was meant to convey that irrational childish anger at being spanked, especially when you deserved it.

I mean, the word is butthurt, not asshurt. When I had those enemas and many colonoscopies as a kid, my ass hurt. When I did something stupid, my butt hurt.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:23 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


you mean if I typed !%^*%$

I've always liked Ben Zimmer's "obscenicon" coinage for those things. And I'll always associate them first and foremost with Q-Bert.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:24 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


We don't have a process, formal or informal, for nominating words for actual blacklists on the site.

There is very much an informal process; that's what this thread is. The Mods may not be intersted, but a lot of people are.
posted by spaltavian at 8:25 AM on March 8, 2013


Sometimes, some people deserve to be offended. It can indicate that their priorities are out of whack and need adjustment.

I guess? Some people in threads like these often seem determined to be offended that they've been asked to think about the use of certain words or phrases, and that the request to think about it is an attack on their freedom of speech. Those reactions can definitely be indicative of their priorities.
posted by rtha at 8:25 AM on March 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


I don't think I've ever used the word butthurt, but I'm more offended by people asking me will I not use a particular word, than I am by any word that I can think of.

It would be very thoughtful if people would stop doing this. Thanks for your consideration.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:25 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's not different than "I am offended by it, so it must be offensive".

That actually is the definition of the words, you realize. If anyone is offended by something, it is inherently offensive, if only to that person. And when that person says "This is offensive to me," no one else gets to say "No it isn't!" They only get to judge for themselves whether they care that it's offensive to that person.
posted by Etrigan at 8:26 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks for asking this in such a gentle and unimposing way, jpfed.

I've never used the phrase on mefi. Have no intention of doing so in the future. I don't mentally relate the phrase to anal rape. In my mind, it's always meant something similar to "spanking." But I know that some other people feel differently about it. So I try to be polite.

The OP is not demanding that people censor themselves. Just that they be thoughtful about the impact a chosen word might have on their fellow mefites. If any of us choose to use a word or not, that's our prerogative.
posted by zarq at 8:30 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


batmonkey: "For what it's worth, initial use was absolutely referencing anal rape, and the people who have been blissfully unaware while slinging it left and right are often the same people who think they're being cute when they use "bling"."

Can you please point out where this has been proven as fact?
posted by Grither at 8:31 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am genuinely astonished.


As God is my witness, I have never heard "butthurt" used, either directly or indirectly, as a reference to anal rape (although in fairness, anal rape isn't a topic that comes up a lot in the circles I run in). It never occured to me that anyone would ever think of the word that way. I've only ever heard it used in a fashion that relies on the imagery of a kid being lightly spanked, or maybe falling on his butt, and is now going around with his ower lip thrust out. Or, as jonmc pointed out, hemmoroids.


Frankly, I consider "butthurt" a much less offensive and troubling term than "pain in the ass", which, now that I think about it, does have extremely blatant anal-rape connotations. I don't think I've used either that much, but if I have used either phrase on this site, I apologize unreservedly to anyone who was upset or hurt by me.
posted by magstheaxe at 8:31 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


That actually is the definition of the words, you realize. If anyone is offended by something, it is inherently offensive

"Inherently offensive" means that the nature of the thing itself is offensive; but since offense is a reaction, nothing can be inherently offensive. Offense is a quality of the beholder, not the item.

Offense, therefore is an opinion. It's not an attribute of your personhood. "Hey, your opinion is off" is par for the course around here. Some things, 99% of people will agree is offensive. Some things are offensive due to some context of a person's history or outlook, and that is understandable, or even admirable is some cases. But these are all subjective things, and we'll all weigh them differently.
posted by spaltavian at 8:31 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, but people have a right to say, "Please reconsider the use of this term" and not have it rejected out of hand because you believe you have an absolute right to never have to think about what comes out of your mouth.

No, they don't right to not have it rejected for whatever reason. Nobody has a right to have other people care about their feelings. It's nice when they do, sucks when they don't, but you are not entitled to it.
posted by nooneyouknow at 8:31 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a series of Anime Macro Images that revolve around the phrase. Perhaps it would be illustrative if somebody could post links to them to context up this conversation. (I'd do it, but I'm at work, etc)
posted by boo_radley at 8:32 AM on March 8, 2013


There is very much an informal process; that's what this thread is. The Mods may not be intersted, but a lot of people are.

Sure, and again it's something that makes sense as a community conversation. My point is that one of the fearful destinations at the nadir of the notional slippery slope, the Prohibition Of Words On Metafilter, isn't really a thing that exists. Even the vanishingly small collection of nuclear grade slurs that are really really highly problematic on the site aren't blanket banned from mention in a context where that mention makes sense, and there is generally zero reasonable comparison between those and pretty much any of the terms that have come up in this sort of Metatalk conversation.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:33 AM on March 8, 2013


If anyone is offended by something, it is inherently offensive, if only to that person.

This belief is called "solipsism".

I see a lot of "who are you to decide what is *really* offensive!" outrage posturing here, but the fact is that everyone makes that judgment call. For example, a number have said that the word not be used because it invokes "mental imagery that some people find distressing" i.e. anal rape. I will take that one step further. I find the mental imagery of anal sex of *any* sort to be distressing. Members of this site who think I am a silly fuddy-duddy? Probably the great majority. My solution is that I avoid discussions about that topic and don't make my problem everyone else's problem.

Not too long ago, I received a MeMail from a member of this site informing me that I am "filth". My solution was to move to the next message and go about my day. People are going to be offensive, inadvertently or intentionally, whether we like it or not.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:37 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I mean, the word is butthurt, not asshurt. When I had those enemas and many colonoscopies as a kid, my ass hurt. When I did something stupid, my butt hurt.

That actually lends credence to the game origin hypothesis - many games' chat and forums have a word filter that would probably block/obfuscate "ass" but not "butt".
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:37 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, so I am totally on board with trying not to use words that cause people distress, etc.

However: I want to push back on this butthurt-was-always-clearly-about-anal-rape-and-was-invented-by-gamers-thing. It was widely used, in the 'being an crybaby' sense, in my rural New Mexico town, in the late 90s. I promise you MMOs had nothing to do with language usage in that setting and time.

Again: I'm down with avoiding painful associations. But language exists outside Xbox Live.
posted by PMdixon at 8:38 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Having a toddler who often gets, well, butthurt over nothing - that's always how I've interpreted the word.

I'm not going to stop using it entirely, but it's easy enough to use other terms on MetaFilter if it reads as referring to rape, since that's absolutely *not* what I mean by it.
posted by sonika at 8:39 AM on March 8, 2013


Offense, therefore is an opinion. It's not an attribute of your personhood. "Hey, your opinion is off" is par for the course around here. Some things, 99% of people will agree is offensive. Some things are offensive due to some context of the person, that is understandable, or admirable, even. But these are all subjective things, and we'll all weight them differently.

Which is why it's a good thing that someone decides to speak up and say, "hey this bugs me", inviting the rest of the community to participate. This lets us all participate in expressing how we relate to the word in question. We can listen to each other, and either change our minds or not. But having the discussion is absolutely necessary, I think.

This is why I have a really hard time with the knee-jerk hyperbole about commenting restriction, imposition and censorship. Freedom of speech cuts in all directions - the freedom to politely suggest reconsidering a word that many have indicated they find hurtful, the freedom to say you're going to say it anyway, the freedom for others to say "ok well that's kinda jerky to dig in your heels over such a bonehead word but whatever", the freedom for others still to say "well i'll just be mindful not to use it around you, how about that" and so on. That's a community at work. If we can't talk about how we communicate with each other, communication itself suffers.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:41 AM on March 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'd always heard it in the "butthurt baby" sense, without any implication that an infant had been anally raped. I never used the word much. Given how many people associate it with anal rape, though, I probably won't use it much in the future, either.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:43 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've used the word "butthurt" probably a dozen times in my life; to me, it has always had the connotation of "whiny, petulant child, upset not just by the spanking but by the reminder that other people see him as a child to be spanked and not a peer to be respected." (Possibly-relevant fact: I don't play video games, online or otherwise.) In that context, it's a useful word, and I can't think of another one that comes immediately to mind with a similar meaning.

But you know, I'm going to spend the effort to find on finding or coining one. Not just because people I respect have told them that the term evokes ugly things to them, but because there ARE people who use it as shorthand for rape jokes, and I do not want those people to ever, EVER think that I am on their side.
posted by KathrynT at 8:44 AM on March 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


The question of offense doesn't really capture my sense of why a community might want to avoid or stigmatize certain words or phrases. I'm not saying this necessarily applies to the word in question in this thread, as there's quite a divergence in the way it is understood*. But, when I think of the term from the perspective that associates the term with sexual violence, I see requests to not use it as asking to help build a culture where sexual violence is not trivialized and normalized.

People may be offended, but the request to change language doesn't have as its end-goal the elimination of offense. Rather, in asking not to use certain terms the goal is the use of language that reinforces desired cultural attitudes and decreases undesirable attitudes. Problematic terms (e.g. racial slurs) reinforce problematic attitudes (e.g. racism). Offense isn't the underlying question (though it is a corollary one). The question is what kind of values the community wants to reflect.

*As I said above, I've always associated the phrase with rape because I've seen it used most in contexts where discussants freely use other sexual violence metaphors (particularly the odious "raped your childhood") as well using gay to mean stupid and language that reflects sexist, racist, etc. thinking. I am honestly surprised to hear about its apparently non-rape-related etymology and use.
posted by audi alteram partem at 8:47 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Not too long ago, I received a MeMail from a member of this site informing me that I am "filth".

Whoa, that's weird, I've never received a memail like that. What a crazy mixed-up world this is, where these things jsut randomly happen sometimes. Ah well, people are illogical, what can u do
posted by Greg Nog at 8:48 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tanizaki: "Not too long ago, I received a MeMail from a member of this site informing me that I am "filth". My solution was to move to the next message and go about my day. People are going to be offensive, inadvertently or intentionally, whether we like it or not."

Just an FYI, if you ever get a harassing memail you can report it to the mods. They'll check it out and if they agree with you that it's problematic, can ask the person who sent it to cut it out.

Or you can choose to block people who send you those sorts of memails. Open the mail and at the bottom click "Block this sender."
posted by zarq at 8:51 AM on March 8, 2013


i went over this in the other thread, but i'll repeat it here.

i'd always thought of it as the toddler falling on his butt and crying out of shock, not hurt. no anal rape in sight...but, that usage is still problematic. i realized during the last conversation that no matter what usage you consider, you're calling someone a sissy without having to own up to it. and the idea that it means spanking is even less useful in a conversation between adults because it brings to mind the power imbalance between parent and child, and how harmless/harmful you find that probably depends on how happy your childhood was.
posted by nadawi at 8:51 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


My solution is that I avoid discussions about that topic and don't make my problem everyone else's problem.

Why aren't you avoiding this one?
posted by octobersurprise at 8:53 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I'd add "butthurt" to the (growing) list of words and phrases that I've only ever heard online.
posted by jonmc at 9:06 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


The weird thing about the censorship position too is that it always ends up hinging on some hypothetical future where the request is for people to reconsider their use of some actually important word, because of course no one wants to hitch their wagon to the notion that the word "butthurt" is an essential component of their ability to express themselves. In all my time here, though, I've never read one of these (almost uniformly politely phrased and reasonable) requests and thought, "NO! 'BUTTHURT' IS THE CORNERSTONE UPON WHICH THE TOWERING EDIFICE OF MY METAFILTER COMMENTRY RESTS, AND WITHOUT WHICH THAT EDIFICE WILL SURELY CRUMBLE!! THIS IS THE LAST STRAW, ETC." because the words that offend people are pretty much never especially expressive words. So I mean given that the tradeoff for being considerate doesn't even actually involve a loss of expressiveness in one's comments, I don't see what the downside is to saying "OK, that's reasonable, I will avoid that word in the future in light of your discomfort."
posted by invitapriore at 9:09 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


People tend to say "Gamers, gamers." I just spent about 15 minutes searching across Google indexed media. The first several times it appears on blogs or in the news in that index is in 2006 - and it's not in gaming media, it's in politics forums - mostly right wing ones. And interestingly, yes, it sort of seems like it was used more by Europeans than Americans for some time.

It really does matter what the word means.

Except that there's no ultimate arbiter of what this word "means." It means what people using it mean to mean. The problem for me is that a lot of people clearly use it with the meaning "suffering from anal rape." Because of that, I won't use it, because I really don't want to be identified with people who use it that way, and my use of it is indistinguishable from theirs since no one can see inside my brain to see what I think it means.
posted by Miko at 9:13 AM on March 8, 2013


I've only ever seen "butthurt" on MetaFilter. My understanding of it from how it has been used in MetaFilter was that it absolutely was used to connote someone who's acting pissy for a trivial reason, but that the etomology was anal rape, a la prison jokes, but that the "bad connotations" had been worn off by frequent use. Sort of like I don't hesitate to say in class that "I'm screwed" even though once upon a time there was a connotation of sex.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:15 AM on March 8, 2013


Not too long ago, I received a MeMail from a member of this site informing me that I am "filth".

I am deeply jealous.
posted by biffa at 9:15 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


It doesn't really matter how its roots are interpreted, even though I've always fallen on the 'anal sex' side of the fence. 'Butthurt' is an incredibly rude and dismissive way to trivialize someone else's concerns about an issue that they likely feel passionately about. On top of that, I find it's used by the trashiest of trashy when they're being called out for behavior that deserves calling out (e.g. "Don't get butthurt because I pissed on your dog"; "Man, Jimmy sure got all butthurt when he found out I smoked the rest of his meth.").
posted by item at 9:19 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've always fallen on the 'anal sex' side of the fence

Ow!
posted by rtha at 9:21 AM on March 8, 2013 [27 favorites]


:)
posted by item at 9:23 AM on March 8, 2013


It was that blue meth, shithead! And it took me, like, all night to get the smell of your piss off my dog! Do you eat anything other than asparagus?!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:23 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Guy at the counter in an Apple computer store (an indie clone, not an Apple-owned one) used it in conversation with me the other day. As in "a lot of people get a little butthurt when..." I was a little surprised. But yeah, mostly I've heard it online. And FWIW I've always interpreted it more as a veiled reference to having been, er, ill-used in the afterquarters than, say, spanked.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:28 AM on March 8, 2013


Crybabies.
posted by notyou at 9:28 AM on March 8, 2013


If you ride your hobby horse too hard you will get saddlesore
posted by The Whelk at 9:29 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm guessing that your exposure to gamer culture will shade your view of "butthurt".

I think that's probably true. For instance, setting aside literal imagery, I wouldn't use the word "butthurt" for the same reason I wouldn't tell a story by saying, "So my friend goes, 'Is there a party tonight,' and I'm like, 'Totally,' and she's all, 'Sweet!'" It's juvenile language. Whatever is meant by the word "butthurt," the person likely to use it is—in my opinion—immature. And I would agree that opinion is shaded by my personal exposure to, and impression of, gamer culture.
posted by cribcage at 9:36 AM on March 8, 2013


Upon reflection, I agree with those who think that, although it may have had a different origin, it can and almost certainly has been used since it was coined to mean not only anal rape, but also dismissively to refer to those who have consensual anal sex and are deemed by the speaker to be "less than" and "other".

I've never used the word before and don't plan to start using it now.

My apologies to those who were hurt by my posts in this thread on this issue. I do think, however, that it's healthy to have these discussions. It's how I learn.
posted by inturnaround at 9:36 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a gamer, I thought MetaFilter invented the word.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:44 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've only ever associated it with anal rape. But used more dismissively than aggressively despite the rape connotations. Trivializing the offended person's feelings by blowing them out of proportion and then telling them to get over it.

I usually saw "butthurt" used by the same guys who posted statuses on Facebook that said something like, "OMG totally raped by the O-chem final!" Seeing this yet again one day, after learning that that another friend had been date raped, I just got supremely pissed. Especially because the guy saying it was my younger brother who is an intelligent and nice guy and was just using it as slang without thinking about it too hard. I sent him a private message asking him to please stop using "raped" so casually because I've known too many women who have actually been raped. He stopped using it.

I don't think there's anything wrong with asking people to reconsider using a term that is offensive to some people.
posted by book 'em dano at 9:45 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ah, I see....so it's perfectly alright to be a big old meanie to one person directly, as long as the words you use don't inadvertently offend someone else who might be reading your comment? Gotcha.

Look, there's a difference between calling somebody immature or obnoxious or arrogant or blithering or any of the many wonderful negative words in the English language which come down to "I find your behavior somewhat inappropriate" and using a phrase which has unfortunate undertones of "Somebody violated you sexually".

Personally, I don't mind the phrase butthurt! It has a lovely little ring to it. But it's not hard to see why other people might have a problem with it, it costs me nothing not to use it, and the only valid reason to keep using it – "people being offended by my actions is NONE OF MY BUSINESS" – is a bit of ridiculous buttshit. It's the "I didn't punch Tommy I was just moving my arms and he got in my way" argument.

(Your actions affect people, dumbbutts of the universe. It is the blessing and the curse of consciousness, now accept it or curl up into a ball and try very hard to be a rock.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:50 AM on March 8, 2013


I'm glad someone brought up the "niggardly" example already. While "I'm offended" is entirely subjective, "that's offensive" is an objective statement, and needs to be based on some form of logic, not random internet conjecture.

Dumbing down our language because idiots who do not know what words mean might be offended lets the idiots win.

Screw them*.

*to be fair, "screw them" is probably actually offensive, as it does directly imply non-consensual sexual activity -- unless there is some etmology of the phrase that involve thumb screws or the like.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:52 AM on March 8, 2013


'Butthurt' is an incredibly rude and dismissive way to trivialize someone else's concerns about an issue that they likely feel passionately about
posted by item at 12:19 PM on March 8



Not that I'm planning on using the word again, but the only time I've ever heard or seen it trotted out is precisely when the topic that someone feels passionately about is trivial. At least, as judged by everyone hearing the person go on about it.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:52 AM on March 8, 2013


Not too long ago, I received a MeMail from a member of this site informing me that I am "filth".

Just a public service announcement that harassing people via MeMail can be a bannable offense.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:53 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Which is why it's a good thing that someone decides to speak up and say, "hey this bugs me", inviting the rest of the community to participate. This lets us all participate in expressing how we relate to the word in question. We can listen to each other, and either change our minds or not.

Yeah, I didn't said this should have never been brought up. I was specifically reacting to this comment:

when that person says "This is offensive to me," no one else gets to say "No it isn't!"

Sure we do! A conversation isn't just a bunch of people reverently nodding their heads at how important feelings are. If someone doesn't agree, a conversation includes someone saying "man, you're off base".
posted by spaltavian at 9:53 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


spaltavian: "Sure we do! "

Maybe you mean "gets to say 'it isn't to me!'"?
posted by boo_radley at 9:54 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do you see the difference there?
posted by boo_radley at 9:55 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you ride your hobby horse too hard you will get saddlesore

Interesting. It works far better to both keep a conversation civil and also connote an absurdity in the obsessions of an interlocutor.
I don't think saddlesore, and the over-riding of a hobby horse have nearly the same connotation of "infants, semi-people without human agency, crying over nothing", and the conversation ending tone that butthurt has (with any chosen definition of intent).

Someone who is saddlesore, from riding their hobby horse too hard is a rational (if tiring and wrong, or even malicious and contemptible) actor, who chooses, as an adult human, capable of change, to...xyz.
Rather than "robbing us all of the elegance and expansive expressiveness of the english language", or other 'censorship', or tossing us into the dark ages, devoid of speakie talky freediesium, or a newspeak nightmare, this thread of "just thinking about a phrase" helped shine light on a far more valid, conducive to discourse, and frankly interesting, expression. Language (re)consideration for the win.
posted by infinite intimation at 9:55 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do you see the difference there?

I understand your point, but fittingly, I think it's a trivial difference and makes no sense to get worked up about.
posted by spaltavian at 9:57 AM on March 8, 2013


If by chance you're the sort of gamer who has ever watched a rogue PvP video with 'What what in the butt' playing as the background music, then I suspect you are also the sort of gamer for whom this term will always evoke anal rape. I sympathize, and so I try to avoid this word. But if the majority remain naive about what it means to a particular crowd, I'm actually kind of happy about that.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:58 AM on March 8, 2013


Inspired by onlyconnect, I propose changing the term to bunnyhurt.

What? No!
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:01 AM on March 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


spaltavian: "I understand your point, but fittingly, I think it's a trivial difference and makes no sense to get worked up about."

I would tend to disagree that it's trivial in some cases.
posted by boo_radley at 10:02 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rory Marinich: "dumbbutts of the universe."

Are you implying that I've been anally raped so many times that my now permanently expanded butthole no longer has the capacity to fart, rendering my butt dumb?

That is terribly offensive. I propose that we reconsider usage of the term "dumbbutts" here at metafilter, in order to not offend anyone who might take offense to its clear and direct connection with anal rape.
posted by Grither at 10:03 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Look, if people are genuinely offended, I'm willing to give up this term, which I have probably used 2 or 3 times in my life anyway. I can use other words. I'm not being SILENCED ALL MY LIFE.

But I really really never would have arrived at that meaning independently. I always assumed it was just using "butt" as a modifier to make it funny because, you know, "lol butts."
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:04 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Grither, don't be obtuse.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:05 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Grither, you've made it kind of clear that you don't give a shit about the use of the word and that's fine but maybe cut it out in here and go do something else if that's the case because the arch sarcasm is kind of crappy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:05 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've always liked Ben Zimmer's "obscenicon" coinage for those things. And I'll always associate them first and foremost with Q-Bert.

Today I am pleased to be the MONSTER who tells you that there is an actual word for it, and it is an awesome word.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:13 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


when that person says "This is offensive to me," no one else gets to say "No it isn't!"

Sure we do! A conversation isn't just a bunch of people reverently nodding their heads at how important feelings are. If someone doesn't agree, a conversation includes someone saying "man, you're off base".


If only there were some sort of middle ground between "This offends me, therefore no one can do it," and a bunch of people reverently nodding their heads at how important feelings are.

Or, better yet, if only you could realize that there's a difference between "No, that's not offensive" and "I'm going to do this anyway, regardless of whether you claim it offends you." The latter one is occasionally appropriate in polite society, because yes, there actually do exist some circumstances where people try to shut down conversation by claiming offense; the former is not saying, "Man, you're off base," it's saying, "Your entirely subjective opinion about this word or action is incorrect," probably with a corollary of "You are lying about taking offense to try to shut down my perfectly reasonable opinion."
posted by Etrigan at 10:13 AM on March 8, 2013


Nobody has ever called me filth, but if they did I'd assume they were coming on to me.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:18 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not that I'm planning on using the word again, but the only time I've ever heard or seen it trotted out is precisely when the topic that someone feels passionately about is trivial. At least, as judged by everyone hearing the person go on about it.

The problem is that one of the easiest and most hurtful ways to dismiss the complaints of someone who feels very passionately about something is to mock them for caring about something trivial. I mean, I care deeply about some trivial shit. I've gotten into a screaming argument about whether Mussolini made the trains run on time. I have seriously considered vandalizing a gravesite as what would amount to a protest against the men who led the Fourth Crusade. I spend a lot of my spare time closely parsing lyrics to R. Kelly songs. I recognize that those things are all objectively not that serious. However, for someone to laugh at me and tell me that I'm being a dumb whiny baby for caring about something that stupid would be genuinely hurtful. That's not even to say that no one should ever do that, it's just worth recognizing what you're doing when you tell people that their concerns are trivial.
posted by Copronymus at 10:18 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Count me as one who has never made the connection between "butthurt" and rape either, though it's not a word I've ever made a habit of using.

The image for me was always of someone who had just been spanked, schooled or otherwise been taught a lesson.

I wonder if this shift is generational? When I was a kid in the 1970s, everyone was spanked as a matter of course. Corporal punishment, "the strap" in my case, was still common in school. Having a sore butt had an obvious, non-sexual, interpretation. When I started hearing the word a lot, in on-line gaming in the early 90s, I assumed it just meant being beaten. I'm pretty certain that was what was usually intended too, as "you've just been spanked" was about an equally popular way to taunt a loser of a match.

So does the word take on a different default interpretation amongst those who grew-up without routine corporal punishment? Interesting to consider.
posted by bonehead at 10:18 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: "Grither, don't be obtuse."

Er, that was kind of the point. Just because people misunderstood the origin of a word doesn't make them right to be offended by it.

cortex: "Grither, you've made it kind of clear that you don't give a shit about the use of the word and that's fine but maybe cut it out in here and go do something else if that's the case because the arch sarcasm is kind of crappy."

Will do, master.
posted by Grither at 10:20 AM on March 8, 2013


Grither: "Will do, master."

Please don't make a last stand on butthurt hill, man.
posted by boo_radley at 10:21 AM on March 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


So does the word take on a different default interpretation amongst those who grew-up without routine corporal punishment? Interesting to consider.

As someone who experienced spanking and rape as a child, the rapes are simply more prominent in my memory.
posted by Jpfed at 10:21 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


making your point by mocking rape survivors is jerkish behavior. are you unable to make your point in a less shitty way?
posted by nadawi at 10:23 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Count me in as another one who had always parsed it as "you just got spanked" but if other people find it an upsetting reference to anal rape, I'm happy to skip it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:23 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Are you implying that I've been anally raped so many times that my now permanently expanded butthole no longer has the capacity to fart, rendering my butt dumb?

Will do, master.

Making fun of rape victims and using racially loaded language to promote your position is not helping this conversation or the world. Please stop.
posted by anya32 at 10:24 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd always assumed "butthurt" referred to soreness after anal sex, consensual or otherwise. I had no idea it had a G-rated set of meanings. I wouldn't use it and I'd be even less likely to now I know it's triggering for some people. I appreciate the thoughtful, considerate way this was raised.

At the same time, I don't think Brandon's concerns about language policing should be dismissed out of hand. There may not be a Metafilter word blacklist, and it may be unlikely there ever will be, but there are other web communities not entirely dissimilar in their makeup from Mefi (ShitRedditSays is one obvious example) where a range of common words are censored on sight due to a hair-trigger stance on offensive language. They're not us, but it's not like it is an unimaginable boogeyman.
posted by dontjumplarry at 10:27 AM on March 8, 2013


Will do, master.

Whatever the fuck, dude. Making a basic effort to either not intentionally be a jerk on a subject or just go do something else with your day is not a lot to ask, and it's my actual job to ask it, not some bizarro imposition on your personal freedoms.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:28 AM on March 8, 2013 [37 favorites]


A conversation isn't just a bunch of people reverently nodding their heads at how important feelings are. If someone doesn't agree, a conversation includes someone saying "man, you're off base".

The point, though, is that you can't tell someone how they feel. "I am offended by this" is a feeling. Just as you can't tell someone they don't find that car funny, don't find that song catchy, or don't find that Reuben tasty. You can disagree with how you feel about those things, but denying how someone else feels just denies a part of the reality of the situation.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:29 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just because people misunderstood the origin of a word doesn't make them right to be offended by it.

I told you to stop being obtuse.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:29 AM on March 8, 2013


jonmc's joke about hemorrhoids rings all to true for me, because even though I know the usual implications of the word, when I see "butthurt", I automatically think two little words: "Ghost Pepper". So my super secret internal narrator reads "butthurt" and instantly responds: "You may think your tongue burns me now, but tonight it will be your ass that's on fire."

So go ahead and call me butthurt. I know you're just ghost peppering.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:32 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I stand by my assertion in the previous thread that, whatever its origins, because it means "stop being a baby," it's a poor way to interact with somebody else, and probably doesn't help conversations here, any more than calling another user a mewling whelp or a sheeple would encourage good conversation.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:35 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, we stand firm on our no Bunny hurting stance.
posted by The Whelk at 10:39 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


you can't tell someone how they feel. "I am offended by this" is a feeling. Just as you can't tell someone they don't find that car funny

But what if the feeling is based on ignorance (in this case, everyone who assumes that just because it involves the word "butt", "butthurt" has to be related to anal sex, and not just anal sex but anal _rape_)?

"I hate black people" is also a feeling. The world shouldn't change just because of people's feelings.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:42 AM on March 8, 2013


I, too, always associate butthurt with a smacked bottom. It goes along with sportcasters and sports fans using "spanked" when a team's been completely routed.

And, frankly, in the videogames I do play online, people use much more graphic phrases than just plain old butthurt.

But yeah, okay. I won't use it here.
posted by kimberussell at 10:43 AM on March 8, 2013


dontjumplarry: "At the same time, I don't think Brandon's concerns about language policing should be dismissed out of hand. There may not be a Metafilter word blacklist, and it may be unlikely there ever will be, but there are other web communities not entirely dissimilar in their makeup from Mefi (ShitRedditSays is one obvious example) where a range of common words are censored on sight due to a hair-trigger stance on offensive language. They're not us, but it's not like it is an unimaginable boogeyman."

Requests that people consider the impact their words may have on others (and which don't ask for any further action to be taken) are pretty clearly not the same as outright censorship.

Just how often do the mods have to say "There is no prohibited words list; there isn't gonna be a prohibited words list; it's not gonna happen" ...for people to believe it?
posted by zarq at 10:45 AM on March 8, 2013


The world shouldn't change just because of people's feelings.

I would argue that people's feelings are precisely why the world should change.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:45 AM on March 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh, hi. I guess I'm partially responsible for this thread. In the MetaTalk thread on the trans* Blue thread, and in the Tropes thread, I've made the intentionally VERY MILD request that posters "please reconsider using the phrase butthurt in future".

I speak out the topic of sexual assault here on MetaFilter frequently, as I am a survivor, and I've done the soul searching on how safe this space is, how I can moderate my own engagement, and so on.

I'm not trying to censor anyone, accuse anyone of knowingly perpetuating awful connotations to sensitive people, etc etc ad nauseam. It's a polite request.

On the actual meaning of the phrase, it's obviously complicated. I first started hearing it in online gaming spaces as far back as the late 90s. It's meaning was unambiguos, then, although it's become muddied over the years. Back then, the meaning was basically:

You just got raped [resoundingly defeated in a videogame contest of skill] and are now butthurt over being raped [you are childishly upset that you were resoundingly defeated in a videogame]. That's where butthurt comes from.

Over the years, it has morphed and lost a lot of the connotation. I credit this mostly to the expansion and breadth of "troll responses" like "you mad bro?" or "u jelly" etc etc. Being butthurt was the natural result of getting raped in a game. As butthurt has become divorced from "omg raped" the nastier connotations have been reduced. That's nice, I guess.

I linked the gawker piece in my comment in that thread, but here's the most relevant section for me:

"Because jealousy and anger are emotions; they spring naturally from our thoughts and feelings. There is no mode of argument, no state of grief, no kind of righteous anger that actually results in your butt hurting. No one suffering a breakup feels "butt ache" from listening to love songs on the radio.

There is, however, a pretty obvious cause of butthurt that everyone envisions when they try to think of its point of origin. It's called getting fucked in the ass.

Look, obviously many people don't intend that interpretation when they use the word. Doubtless, a lot of people recognize it simply as an effective term in the discourse that can be used to put someone down. Like kids with gay uncles or aunts who would never dream of wounding their family but nevertheless say, "Ugh, that is so gay," on the playground, butthurt is likely just a weapon in the arsenal of many people who've never stopped to think what it means.

That's unfortunate, but it's not an excuse. The imagery of forced humiliating sodomy (or at the most optimistic, a thorough ass-kicking) immediately conjures up pretty clear pictures of the victims, and those people are bitches.
Bitches like women, who aren't as strong as men, who are subordinate to them because God or biology made them weak, who are meant to have things shoved in them, in areas around the butt. Bitches like male weaklings in prison populations, who can't fend off attackers with their fists and have to preserve their safety by being regularly sodomized at another's behest, who only get what they deserve as criminal subhumans anyway."


So yeah. Keep using the phrase if you want to, no one is saying you can't. I made a polite request, I'm glad the OP here reiterated it. You should know, when you do use it, that it has the same schoolyard cache as "that's so gay" and you may be hurting other people when you do. If you don't care about that, then don't moderate your language.

If you do, please reconsider using the phrase in future.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:45 AM on March 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


I've never used the word, when I first read it it was on reddit and I had on "oh, ouch" reaction and was kind of surprised to see it more and more, especially on the SRS fempire where people seem pretty OK with it. So I thought my initial impression that it was something sexual was actually mistaken.

Mostly it seems like too-easy a way to dismiss somebody so I stay away from it to not be super rude but I enjoy reading verbal smackdowns of other people and a well-employed 'butt hurt' has a nice ring to it.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:45 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I hate black people" is also a feeling. The world shouldn't change just because of people's feelings.

No one is asking for that. How people feel about a thing is just something that has to be acknowledged as something that exists; like, in your example, "No you don't hate black people" would be untrue. But you can discuss why feeling that way might be misguided. As I said above, I'm glad we get this out here and dislike when there's people trying to squash the discussion by trying to frame it in a very limited and peculiar type of Free Speech, where you can say what you like, but we shouldn't take seriously the subject of one or many more being offended by the things said.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:46 AM on March 8, 2013


it's not just an assumption though - that is the way that the phrase is used in some circles. it wasn't just made up out of thin air searching for something to be offended about. it really doesn't take a lot of googling to find people using it to mean rape (even if in those cases, a lot of people seem to be using raped where others might say spanked).
posted by nadawi at 10:46 AM on March 8, 2013


Googling [site:metafilter.com butthurt] only returns 349 hits, which is much fewer than I expected.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:48 AM on March 8, 2013


Foci for Analysis: "Googling [site:metafilter.com butthurt] only returns 349 hits, which is much fewer than I expected."

8 posts, 450 comments and 2 tags
posted by zarq at 10:50 AM on March 8, 2013


Grither, we've met in person at that bar in NYC and we had fun. We've played games together on MeFightClub. You seem like a really solid dude, and I don't know why you are fighting this hard for this shitty phrase. I hope you remember when we hung out, and the fun conversation we had, and perhaps reconsider the stand you have chosen here.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:51 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


One of those 8 posts was this AskMe: I need a non-vulgar synonym for butthurt. Canonical english and neologisms both are welcome.
posted by zarq at 10:52 AM on March 8, 2013


8 posts, 450 comments and 2 tags

Including this helpful AskMe.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:52 AM on March 8, 2013


Jinx!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:53 AM on March 8, 2013


:D
posted by zarq at 10:53 AM on March 8, 2013


Also, hi, here are a couple of my patented Irrefutably Correct Statements™:

1. It wasn't until reading this site that it even occurred to me that the word could be taken as referring to buttsex. And I went, "Hm." The first time I heard it, I actually didn't really assign a meaning to it at all; I just figured that the kind of people using it were the kind of people who'd get whatever particular juvenile kick out of putting the word "butt" in front of something. If called upon to come up with a meaning, I'd have figured spanking. But here's the point: The word's an inkblot. Like every single other Internet neologism, it is impossible and pointless to try to prove what the word really or originally or definitely means. You would have to track down the very first person who ever used it (not just the earliest hit on Google), and ask them, and then you would have wasted a lot of time because appeals to authority don't really matter when talking about a strange evolving language. And also it's irrelevant, because

2. It's not useful or relevant to argue over original meanings or the speaker's intent. Some people are going to be bugged when you say, "rule of thumb," for example. Some people aren't. That is that. A word's original meaning is not pertinent to a modern conversation, and it's not a shield against upsetting people, if people are upset. Why? Because

3. There is no such thing as a word which is inherently offensive or not offensive. There is only context, and context is created by who's listening. Offense is created by who's taking offense to it. Sometimes that offense is on a moral basis. Sometimes it's tied to past experience. It doesn't matter. You talk, people hear it. If you say something that bugs them, maybe they let you know. What happens then?

4. Unless the word is specifically forbidden by the people running the site, what happens next is, based on the feedback you've gotten from other people, you decide whether or not you care enough about potential impact on their feelings to continue or stop using whatever the troublesome language was. That's the approach I take, and frankly I feel like it's a lot more honest. Instead of dressing it up in some argument about what a word really means or whether or not your stand is a principled one, you simply establish: "This is what I mean when I say it, this is what you feel when I say it, and either I give enough of a shit about the latter to do less of the former, or I don't."

And then you can just sort of assign what you want to do based on your priorities. Someone says I'm being offensive when I take the lord's name in vain? Tough nuts, pal! Someone takes offense when I use "cocksucker" as an insult? Well, in the specific case I'm thinking of, it was a gay friend of mine who'd heard it used as a slur a bunch, and even though I really hadn't ever thought of it as a homophobic slur and certainly hadn't used it that way, this was a friend of mine and I like when my friends are not reminded of shitty shit AND it's not an unreasonable request (again, as my priorities go), so I made a mental note not to use it anymore, and I'm not really suffering for it. Which leads me to

5. While I can understand, on an intellectual level, the drive to take umbrage at being asked not to use words, I also think it's sort of silly. We can get as puffed-up as we want about demands made of us, but we don't think it's an unreasonable request that, say, we not drop slurs left and right. You're not being asked to compromise on a principled stand. You're being asked to decide whether or not you think it's an unreasonable request. That's all. If you don't think it is, then okay.

6. Finally: If nothing else, it's just one of those words that is grotesquely Internet, like using "fail" as a noun, and I don't think I've ever used it prior to this comment, so if the offense angle isn't cutting it for you, there's also that. I can't think of a reason why anyone would not want to emulate me, in my monstrous perfection, in every aspect, so there you go.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:56 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


The world shouldn't change just because of people's feelings.

I would argue that people's feelings are precisely why the world should change


I should have expanded upon my example...

Please reconsider being a black person in my presence.

I am under the impression that for most people, [blackness is just a genetic trait which doesn't say anything about the quality of that person as a human being]. But for some [people who have known mean black people], [being black] implies that [you are an asshole, are more prone to commit crimes, and lazy]. If that is not the meaning you intend to convey, please [be a different race].


(obviously the analogy is slightly flawed here, but the "I have a feeling" --> "please change for my benefit" link is there)

The person who posted the hypothetical MeTa above was validly expressing their feelings of not liking black people. Should we entertain a discussion about how many black people shouldn't be allowed on Metafilter just because they have that feeling? Or do we have a discussion about how that feeling is f-ed up and not worthy of being conceded to?
posted by sparklemotion at 11:00 AM on March 8, 2013


Incidentally, people have been offended by the term "monster", based on its etymology.
posted by TedW at 11:01 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Please reconsider being a black person in my presence.

Seriously, this is the rhetorical tactic you think is appropriate?
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:02 AM on March 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


But if one continues to use the term that someone thinks is monstrous, won't people think they are a monster by extension? That's why people push back. That's why the need to clarify and correct.

Pretty much this. In these conversations, it's often stated or implied that if you do continue using the word, you are some sort of unsocialized ingrate. Which makes sense in one on one settings, but on a large website with thousands of members and thousands of threads, it never struck me as productive to ask that members of this niche subsite refrain from certain words. It just doesn't compute to me, on a practical level, except for more inflammatory words.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:02 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


so, asking people to consider that a phrase they might use means anal rape to some people is like asking a black person to not be black anymore? what are you on about?
posted by nadawi at 11:03 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Should we entertain a discussion about how many black people shouldn't be allowed on Metafilter just because they have that feeling? Or do we have a discussion about how that feeling is f-ed up and not worthy of being conceded to?

Making the polite request that people not use a term that demonstrably does refer to anal rape is not at all comparable to believing that one should have their pig ignorant racism entertained. It's hyperbolic and I can't believe you find these two things comparable. If we're going to have an honest discussion about this, scale and context matters.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:03 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


it never struck me as productive to ask that members of this niche subsite refrain from certain words

to me, if one person stops using a phrase they didn't care about and didn't consider the implications of previously, then this thread is productive. how are you defining productive?
posted by nadawi at 11:06 AM on March 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am also one of those people that did not realize anyone thought it referred to anything other than being mad about losing a game ("being raped," in ever-charming gamer dudebro parlance) until it came up in MetaTalk. I confess to being a little shocked when people who are generally careful with their language used it.

This is how I first heard it way back when, too. The people that used it were always casually LOL talking about raping each other.
posted by ignignokt at 11:08 AM on March 8, 2013


Or do we have a discussion about how that feeling is f-ed up and not worthy of being conceded to?

While the specific steps in your reasoning may appear to observers to be inflammatory, it's perfectly possible to ignore those steps and head straight to the point. If your analogy holds, we should have a discussion about how the feeling I mentioned in my post is fucked up and not worthy of being conceded to.

Please proceed.
posted by Jpfed at 11:09 AM on March 8, 2013


In these conversations, it's often stated or implied that if you do continue using the word, you are some sort of unsocialized ingrate. Which makes sense in one on one settings, but on a large website with thousands of members and thousands of threads, it never struck me as productive to ask that members of this niche subsite refrain from certain words.

I'm not sure there's necessarily the implication you're talking about in all or even most of the "can we not use this word please" requests. Consider the phrasing of this MeTa as one good example of how to bring up the subject of a word in a polite and civil manner. Discussion can lead to people sticking where they are, changing their minds, leaving the thread, reading along and considering other POVs, and thinking, in general, or at least witnessing how others in their community feel about the word, and the word's other possible dynamics. I think in the grand scheme of things, it's a net positive to consider our language, community and communication.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:09 AM on March 8, 2013


so, asking people to consider that a phrase they might use means anal rape to some people

Many people in this thread have pointed out that the phrase may not mean what those people think it means.

Others have stated things along the lines of "it doesn't matter what the phrase means, it just matters that some people experience feelings of hurt when they see it used"

Sometimes, the best way to deal with "some people's feelings" is show them why their feelings are probably based on inaccurate assumptions about the world and then go on with your merry life, free of the feeling that one experiences after having their gluteus region spanked.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:10 AM on March 8, 2013


I don't use "butthurt" because I think the term is dumb.

(Oh, shit. I said "dumb." Now people will think I'm insensitive to those who can't speak.)

(Oh, Christ, I said "shit." Some people are offended by scatological terminology.)

(Nertz, I took the Lord's name in vain.)

(OK, can we all agree on nertz?)
posted by Longtime Listener at 11:11 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Many people in this thread have pointed out that the phrase may not mean what those people think it means.

But it has been and continues to be used to mean what they think it means. A word can mean more than one thing. Are you denying this word ever intentionally references anal rape?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:12 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes. The way offense works is that it is an emotional reaction. The mere fact that someone is having an emotional reaction does not mean that the emotion is justified. Someone else's offense is not a logical argument.

ROBOT WARNING
posted by ignignokt at 11:12 AM on March 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


sparklemotion, I've argued above that the reverse is true. Butthurt is the corrolary to being figuratively raped in a videogame or online argument. The watered down version that is spreading around now is a tide that some of us are trying to stem. Maybe you can see how the "this word, it doesn't mean what you think it means" can also be applied in reverse.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:13 AM on March 8, 2013


In these conversations, it's often stated or implied that if you do continue using the word, you are some sort of unsocialized ingrate.

There has been a vanishingly small amount of that in this conversation, but there has been a tremendous amount of "please" and other polite requests to reconsider use of the word. There has been more complaining (by number and volume) that people feel marginalized by being asked to consider using it less than there has been complaining about it actually being used.
posted by Etrigan at 11:14 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


we should have a discussion about how the feeling I mentioned in my post is fucked up and not worthy of being conceded to.

You feel that people who are using the term "butthurt" are trivializing rape. But, there are plenty of reasons why one might have a hurting butt, and the ones that make the most sense in the context that "butthurt" is generally used are those that have to do with someone acting like a child after having being spanked.

So, while your feeling is not as "fucked up" as hating black people, it does, in my opinion, rest on a faulty worldview.

Given that I don't think your feeling has a basis in reality, I won't be changing my language based on it.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:16 AM on March 8, 2013


(OK, can we all agree on nertz?)

Look, no one is saying that you aren't allowed to say certain things. Say whatever the fuck you want. But be aware that saying certain things will affect others around you, sometimes in negative ways. You can still say those negative things. Be aware of the consequences. Whether you think saying those things is worth the consequences is up to you.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:16 AM on March 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Many people in this thread have pointed out that the phrase may not mean what those people think it means.

to them. in other instances. in other places they've come across it. that isn't actually a blanket statement of it never means this other thing. it's a perspective just like the butthurt=anal rape perspective. you can argue that you think one perspective is more worthy than another - but to argue that it categorically never means rape isn't supported by even the barest research.
posted by nadawi at 11:17 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


to me, if one person stops using a phrase they didn't care about and didn't consider the implications of previously, then this thread is productive. how are you defining productive?

A method that gets the majority of people on the site to stop using the word. Which is fairly hard for the less inflammatory words, so it seems counterproductive. After all, will the person be more or less upset when the word is used, after making the request it not be?

There has been a vanishingly small amount of that in this conversation, but there has been a tremendous amount of "please" and other polite requests to reconsider use of the word. There has been more complaining (by number and volume) that people feel marginalized by being asked to consider using it less than there has been complaining about it actually being used.

If more people are complaining about being asked to not use it, perhaps we should go with that, since the term's usage doesn't bother many people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:21 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


You feel that people who are using the term "butthurt" are trivializing rape.

it's my understanding that what the OP is saying that some people use butthurt to trivialize rape (an indisputable fact) and so if you use it, some people might read it as you trivializing rape, and a request that you consider that before you use it.
posted by nadawi at 11:22 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Given that I don't think your feeling has a basis in reality, I won't be changing my language based on it.

Wow, you must be a big hit at parties.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:22 AM on March 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


"Nerts" was considered inappropriate language by US newspaper editors, broadcast standards and practices offices, and the Hays Office in the early 20th century, as it was a minced version of "nuts" i.e. testicles.

The phrase "In your hat" was similarly off-limits, because it referred to the then-popular "Go shit in your hat!" (used in the same context as "Fuck off!")

That's censorship. A peer to peer statement that a particular word is upsetting to some people? Not censorship.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:23 AM on March 8, 2013


to argue that it categorically never means rape isn't supported by even the barest research.

If the OP had said "please don't use the term butthurt to describe the results of anal rape" I would have been all for it.

Instead, the OP is saying "I believe that butthurt means the results of anal rape, so please consider not using the term".

Which to me reads like OP is trying to force OP's beliefs upon others. This especially bugs me because it feels like it's based on shoddy etymology (like the niggardly example, but unlike "jip/gyp" which I finally gave up using when I realized that yes, the basis of the term really was the word "gypsy" ).
posted by sparklemotion at 11:23 AM on March 8, 2013


Aaaaaaand I'm out. Classic MeTa. Never change.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:25 AM on March 8, 2013


inturnaround: “I agree that being sensitive is generally a good goal, but there is a line somewhere. Otherwise we get things like people being upset because someone somewhere used the word ‘niggardly’ to mean stingy even though it has nothing to do with the ‘other’ n-word. It really does matter what the word means.”

sparklemotion: “I'm glad someone brought up the ‘niggardly’ example already. While "I'm offended" is entirely subjective, ‘that's offensive’ is an objective statement, and needs to be based on some form of logic, not random internet conjecture. Dumbing down our language because idiots who do not know what words mean might be offended lets the idiots win.”

The word "niggardly" is actually quite interesting in this context. I'm sure I've talked about this before here, but:

Most people are familiar with the instance of where someone supposedly lost his job for using this word in the late 1990s. Unfortunately, this story is so misunderstood and misremembered that it's almost taken on the status of an urban legend. In point of fact, David Howard was not fired from his job as an aide to the mayor of DC – he resigned from his job. He was actually offered the chance to return to his job, but he refused, saying he felt it was right for him to step down, and that he thought he'd learned a valuable lesson:
I used to think it would be great if we could all be colorblind. That's naïve, especially for a white person, because a white person can afford to be colorblind. They don't have to think about race every day. An African American does.
The lesson that David Howard says he learned is a good one, I think. I may know what the word "niggardly" has historically meant, but does my family know? Do my friends know? When I talk to people, is it possible that they'll think I'm using a racial slur? Yes, it's possible. David Howard was a white aide to a black mayor; he was using the term in front of people who might not have heard it before, and who were likely to misunderstand it as a slur against them and be hurt by it. As far as I know, there is no moral obligation that all of us know the etymologies of words; so, as David Howard realized, it seems unfair to demand that everyone around us know the etymologies of obscure words that happen to sound like racial slurs.

There's nothing wrong with choosing to take the high road and be considerate of others by thinking a little about whether the words we use are going to hurt them before they come out of our mouths. And I don't think there's anything wrong with asking politely that people at least think a little about what that would mean. This is not in the realm of Orwellian censorship and state censorship; it's just part of the natural human mechanisms we've always had whereby we show consideration for the situations other people are in.
posted by koeselitz at 11:25 AM on March 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


Wow, you must be a big hit at parties.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:22 PM on March 8 [+] [!]



You too!
I'd be happy to tell them that they're being cranky babies, personally.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:33 AM on March 8 [+] [!]

Grither, don't be obtuse.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:05 PM on March 8 [+] [!]

I told you to stop being obtuse.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:29 PM on March 8 [+] [!]
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:26 AM on March 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


If more people are complaining about being asked to not use it, perhaps we should go with that, since the term's usage doesn't bother many people.

Unless they happen to be people not bothered by the word but elect not to use it, because it's no great sacrifice.

Which to me reads like OP is trying to force OP's beliefs upon others.

"Please reconsider use this term" is forcing beliefs upon you, and yet we are to believe there is only one true definition of "butthurt", and anyone who feels otherwise - pointing to actual evidence to the contrary - has a position with "no basis in reality". Got it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:26 AM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


You feel that people who are using the term "butthurt" are trivializing rape. But, there are plenty of reasons why one might have a hurting butt, and the ones that make the most sense in the context that "butthurt" is generally used are those that have to do with someone acting like a child after having being spanked.

There is a subset of people for whom that is the context and intention behind the phrase. There is another subset of people, that actually exists and is not a made-up fantasy, that uses the phrase in the context of "rape" as a term for winning a game, and for whom rape jokes, and misogyny in general, are a matter of daily use. When you use "butthurt," it is very seldom clear which subset of people you belong to.

If you don't care which one people assume you are in, then go on with your bad self. If you think it might not be awesome for people to think you are one of Those People, then maybe reconsider. Your call.

I personally think these conversations are productive when the participants of the conversation are educated about possible interpretations of language. I know I have learned a ton over the years about terms and phrases that I had never thought about, and I think as a community we do better when more people know more about the possible effects of their word choices.

(For an interesting historical look at "rape" as slang in online games, here's an article about the controversial ban on using "rape" in Ultima Online. It was a big deal back in the day, and an aggressive stance to take.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:26 AM on March 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


If more people are complaining about being asked to not use it, perhaps we should go with that, since the term's usage doesn't bother many people.

The true weight of offense is based on whether the majority is offended by it? Your invisible knapsack is showing.
posted by Etrigan at 11:27 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


sparklemotion: “Many people in this thread have pointed out that the phrase may not mean what those people think it means.”

As I have learned myself, sometimes the hard way, words don't have absolute meanings. They're designed to communicate; so they refer to whatever common conception two people have of them when one of them uses the word. If I hear the word "butthurt" and think it refers to anal rape, then in some very real way that's what the word means. Unfortunately, there is no dictionary in the sky we can point to in order to prove that one meaning of a word is correct and another is incorrect.

“Instead, the OP is saying 'I believe that butthurt means the results of anal rape, so please consider not using the term'.”

On the contrary, Jpfed seems to have been very careful not to say that that's what butthurt simply means. He said that for some people that's what it implies. And that's how words are; they mean one thing to certain people and another thing to other people. Again, there are no meanings set in stone. Jpfed was only saying that maybe we could consider what our words might mean to others before we use them, instead of obstinately insisting that our meanings are the only meanings.
posted by koeselitz at 11:28 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


(And, in all honestly, I've always believed that pretty much all mefites are probably fun to have at parties. I have had this confirmed for me several times. In fact, even the few that seem like they might not be that much fun often turn out to be pretty great.)
posted by koeselitz at 11:30 AM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Instead, the OP is saying "I believe that butthurt means the results of anal rape, so please consider not using the term".

what the OP actually said was:
I am under the impression that for most people, for X to say that Y is butthurt means that Y is bothered by some circumstance C, which X believes is actually trivial and not worthy of the strong reaction Y has given. But for some survivors of anal rape, it implies that Y is bothered by some circumstance C where C is analogous to anal rape, which X believes is actually trivial and not worthy of the strong reaction Y has given. If that is not the meaning you intend to convey, please find an alternative phrasing.
emphasis mine - which seems very different from your reading - OP doesn't see to be saying that butthurt always means rape, but that it's a reading of it that the majority might not have been aware of.
posted by nadawi at 11:30 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Butthurt is the corrolary to being figuratively raped in a videogame or online argument. The watered down version that is spreading around now is a tide that some of us are trying to stem.

I don't think many here are trying to "water-down" what appears to be an offensive construction. Many of us are simply expressing surprise at the strong reactions to what appeared to be an innocent word, though juvenile and expressive of limited emotional development.

This happens frequently here, and I think most people are going to react to this new information by thinking: "Good to know. moving forward..." Sure there are some who are going to whine about limits on expression, but I would be surprised if that's more than a stubborn few.

On the other hand, though, when I'm not so sure that it really helps to characterize those expressing and working through their surprise as disingenuous or acting in bad faith.
posted by bonehead at 11:31 AM on March 8, 2013


I think it's important for people who are going to use butthurt to recognize that other people do have bad associations with the word, and are going to be associating the user with those bad associations if they use it. I didn't know that before this thread.

I also think it's important for people who are inclined to be offended by butthurt to give some level of benefit of doubt to their fellow mefites and not automatically assume it is meant as a reference to anal rape and assume that the person is deliberately being offensive. Maybe they didn't read this thread.

Charitable reading and assumption of good faith in their fellow mefites would be helpful on both sides.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:31 AM on March 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


The true weight of offense is based on whether the majority is offended by it? Your invisible knapsack is showing.

What were the numbers in that final tally you counted?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:34 AM on March 8, 2013


Here's the thing about the David Howard story:

The lesson that David Howard says he learned is a good one, I think. I may know what the word "niggardly" has historically meant, but does my family know? Do my friends know? When I talk to people, is it possible that they'll think I'm using a racial slur? Yes, it's possible.

It seems to me that avoiding using a word people people might not know what it means implies that we should assume that the kinds of people who would be offended by the word are less literate. It reads to me an awful lot like "well, you can't blame those poor black folk for being uneducated, so it was my mistake for not talking down to their level".

It doesn't feel like a win to me.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:37 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The true weight of offense is based on whether the majority is offended by it? Your invisible knapsack is showing.

What were the numbers in that final tally you counted?


So you're sticking with the idea that it actually comes down to numbers? That there is some threshold greater than one person asking you politely not to use one single word that will convince you personally not to use it?

I take it back. It wasn't your invisible knapsack that was showing -- it was your utter disregard for the feelings of a fellow human being. Congratulations. You absolutely have won the right to disregard the feelings of a fellow human being. That's a hard-fought right, and I'm so glad that you've decided to take up its cause.
posted by Etrigan at 11:41 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Charitable reading and assumption of good faith in their fellow mefites would be helpful on both sides.

Of course they would be. Just as I think it's helpful for the community to be aware of how some people react to units of communication. From there, knowing the word is often used to denote anal rape and how some people around you respond to it, the choice is then yours whether you'll continue using it or not. Keeping the motivations of others in mind is definitely helpful, sure, just as basic measures of common courtesy that don't restrict your thought or expression are, too.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:42 AM on March 8, 2013


It is so easy not to use the term, which is lazy and pretty much always arguing in bad faith/part of an ad hominem salvo. And I don't really see an argument for using the term other than some paraphrase of "don't tell me what to do." But hey, do what you feel.
posted by that's candlepin at 11:45 AM on March 8, 2013


I am personally unconcerned about being rendered "less literate" for hypothetically losing access to the word "butthurt." I am, however, personally annoyed by the embarrassingly low levels of literacy, reasoning, and conversation that are constantly reflected in MetaTalk by people who seem unable to discuss any topic without drawing an analogy that somehow involves "black people."
posted by cribcage at 11:49 AM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


sparklemotion: “It seems to me that avoiding using a word people people might not know what it means implies that we should assume that the kinds of people who would be offended by the word are less literate. It reads to me an awful lot like ‘well, you can't blame those poor black folk for being uneducated, so it was my mistake for not talking down to their level’. It doesn't feel like a win to me.”

I don't think our knowledge of obscure words is in any way a measure of literacy, education, or intelligence. I have known many people more literate, educated, and intelligent than I am who had never heard the word "niggardly" before. So: if I assume that people I meet might not have heard that word before, I'm not making any assumptions about their literacy, education, or intelligence.
posted by koeselitz at 11:50 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is a big thread and probably no one will read but I've been thinking about this because I flagged the original post because I totally thought the poster was trolling.... but I wasn't sure. (Please forgive me, I'm on cold meds, will try to not ramble.)

First, the nature of the thread. It's a thread about gaming, women depicted in gaming, and the culture that surrounds that. So, when the word butthurt came up in conjunction with MRA types and then the next comment is this "that offends me" I couldn't tell if the poster was truly offended or if they were trying to make a trolling point. Along the lines of those "har-har angry, feminist bitches can't take a joke about anything!" types. Like, to suggest that the poster of the MRA comment was suggesting anal rape seemed pretty out of left field. So, I thought it was a troll.

Secondly, the etymology of the word. Clearly a case can be made for the petulant child read and, in fact, I did a goddamn google search for 'butthurt' before I flagged and contacted the mods because I was sure it was a troll (and the discussion was so good up till that point that I was upset about the derail). And, well, I found pages that supported my read of the stupid word. Even the Gawker article says it mostly means "childish" but there's a subset of jerks who really mean "anal rape." But, then, to bring this back ouroboros style, you tell me this word gets it's most uncharitable and disgusting read from the gamer community itself just goes to support the thesis of the thread and what a hostile environment it can be.

I think people tend to knee-jerk react when they innocently stumble into suggesting anal rape.

Right?

I have never, ever used the word 'butthurt' and am not the 'butthurt' champion so I don't even know what I'm trying to say here but I'd rather all the 'butthurt' discussion including the original comment that spurned it (which was completely innocent other than feeling some umbrage which was due) be deleted from that thread. It won't get deleted, most probably, but it makes me kind of angry that the weird psychological bullshit that is endemic to that community shows up to shame those discussing the rather unfortunate, if not shameful, aspects of that community.

Does that make any sense? NyQuil, can you hear me?

I will never use the phrase 'butthurt' but not because it condones anal rape but because it is rather stupid and always felt sort of "LOLButts!" to me. I think it is very, very sad and weird that gamers bond this way.
posted by amanda at 11:51 AM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


So you're sticking with the idea that it actually comes down to numbers?

Actually, you introduced the idea of numbers and counts into the conversation, so I'm just following your line of thought.

What was the tally of yea and nay votes again? You mentioned it, so I'd love to hear what the final numbers are.

I take it back. It wasn't your invisible knapsack that was showing -- it was your utter disregard for the feelings of a fellow human being.

Now you're just being silly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:56 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


So: if I assume that people I meet might not have heard that word before, I'm not making any assumptions about their literacy, education, or intelligence.


This is entirely reasonable, but the reasonable follow-on assumption is that when hearing a word that people aren't sure about, they will look it up, as opposed to ignorantly deciding that it means whatever makes them angry.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:57 AM on March 8, 2013


as opposed to ignorantly deciding that it means whatever makes them angry.

Seriously: are you denying that this word is ever used to mean anal rape, to a demonstrable, significant, and easily Googlable degree? Or just going on the hunch that anyone bothered by this word has just up and decided to be angry, hurt or offended by it, for whatever purpose, without any reason based on empirical evidence? Because that's an argument I hear a lot: you should assume my motivations are pure when I say X, but I can assume you've made the conscious choice to be upset at me, for the purpose of telling me what to do.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:03 PM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


when hearing a word that people aren't sure about, they will look it up, as opposed to ignorantly deciding that it means whatever makes them angry.

Descriptivism suggests that meaning is more complicated than looking a word up and less capricious than personal whim.
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:05 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is entirely reasonable, but the reasonable follow-on assumption is that when hearing a word that people aren't sure about, they will look it up, as opposed to ignorantly deciding that it means whatever makes them angry.

sparklemotion, have you never made an assumption about anything in your life that you later found out was wrong?

For the record - I never made the rape connection either (I always thought it had to do with something like diaper rash), but honestly, if it reminds people of something much more unpleasant, there are myriad other words I could be using that are quite honestly much better, and avoiding using just one single word when in their presence is really, really not a sacrifice.

And honestly, would that it were always so easy for me to do something good on behalf of my neighbors and make their lives a bit easier.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:05 PM on March 8, 2013


and upon looking up butthurt, you'll quickly find encyclopedia dramatica which makes it clear that at least to some people, and importantly here, people who aren't rape survivors asking for more consideration, it means:
that special feeling in your ass after it's been kicked and/or fucked. It is a common ailment amongst losers on the internet. It is usually characterized by noisy whining and complaining after being pwnt or otherwise outdone in any minute and insignificant way. It was invented at least 100 years ago by Vlad the Impaler when he went crazy from living in a time without the internets. Today, butthurt occurs most commonly when you fall asleep with your friends and they, being your friends, decide it would be funny to sodomize you.
posted by nadawi at 12:05 PM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


What was the tally of yea and nay votes again?

I'm not going to start counting until you give us your thresholds of how many people or what percentage have to declare, in all seriousness and with genuine feeling behind it, that the use of this word makes them uneasy before you'll stop using it. Please, tell us how many people it takes for you to care about their feelings.
posted by Etrigan at 12:06 PM on March 8, 2013


Christing fuck, sparklemotion. I don't think you're engaging with enough bad faith (bad enough faith? whatevs). You really need to start with the Orwell / Hitler / Stalin references to round out your approach here.
posted by dersins at 12:07 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The problem is that one of the easiest and most hurtful ways to dismiss the complaints of someone who feels very passionately about something is to mock them for caring about something trivial. I mean, I care deeply about some trivial shit. I've gotten into a screaming argument about whether Mussolini made the trains run on time...However, for someone to laugh at me and tell me that I'm being a dumb whiny baby for caring about something that stupid would be genuinely hurtful. That's not even to say that no one should ever do that, it's just worth recognizing what you're doing when you tell people that their concerns are trivial.
posted by Copronymus at 1:18 PM



I think it's worth pointing out that screaming at people about train schedules probably resulted in your hurting someone's feelings.

And that's what going to lead to accusations of 'butthurt' or other dismissive name-calling; accusations that will be made by people who--since they've been now been screamed at--no longer care if your feelings are hurt or not.

This is not to defend the use of 'butthurt'. Rather, this is to explain why getting worked up over trivial matters may prompt its use. It's worth recognizing that, if in your passion for your subject, you doesn't demonstrate consideration for others' feelings, others might demonstrate the same lack of consideration for yours.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:14 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not going to start counting until you give us your thresholds of how many people or what percentage have to declare, in all seriousness and with genuine feeling behind it, that the use of this word makes them uneasy before you'll stop using it.

Sounded like you've already counted, based on your comment here. Anytime you want to quantify "vanishingly small", "tremendous amount" and "more complaining (by number and volume)" with actual numbers, go right ahead.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:16 PM on March 8, 2013


"as opposed to ignorantly deciding that it means whatever makes them angry."

Seriously: are you denying that this word is ever used to mean anal rape


Given that I was discussing the word "niggardly" with koeselitz in the quoted comment and yet you assume that that I was discussing the word "butthurt" seems to me to be telling.

But, back to your butthurt, I've never denied that some people believe the word to mean anal rape. What I have tried to do was back up those who think that the "anal rape" interpretation is a stretch, and show that there are other interpretations that might make more sense, even in the context of gamer speak. On the other hand, there have been people in this thread (not the OP, as I originally accussed, sorry Jpfed) who have categorically stated that the word ONLY means anal rape.

I've also tried to point out the flaws in the argument that because feelings are subjective, all feelings are equally valid, and we should do our best to avoid hurting them at all times. That discussion is a little separate from the etymological one, but in this case they are hard to separate.

If this is discussing in bad faith, I apologize.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:16 PM on March 8, 2013


It's worth recognizing that, if in your passion for your subject, you doesn't demonstrate consideration for others' feelings, others might demonstrate the same lack of consideration for yours.

Part of the issue, though, is that screaming at someone about train schedules may offend the person being screamed at, but doesn't have the same potential for collateral damage (i.e. offending/hurting a neutral observer) as the subject at hand.
posted by dersins at 12:18 PM on March 8, 2013


Here's a real number: 1. One person in this thread shared a personal horror story and told us of the pain caused by reading this word. That is a big enough threshold for me. If even one person I give a shit about might be caused real pain by a lazy choice of words, I'm going to avoid the word as the very reasonable price of being decent to them. 1.

The question isn't whether the slope is slippery, but whether the path is worth the effort.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:24 PM on March 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


Well, it (the comment [which seems like it might have been self-depricatingly over-describing the "screaming"]) isn't even "really" about trains though is it?

It is talking about the well worn saw of "at least the violent, hateful, fascist, vile dictator had the trains running on time... so we can excuse a little bit of fascism or evil, in the name of efficiency or proficiency"... so, I mean, I get the point about "yelling at someone over trains is overwrought", but the described dispute in that comment wasn't encapsulated by saying "yelling at someone about trains".
posted by infinite intimation at 12:24 PM on March 8, 2013


Sort of torn between being bored of a witless internet cliché word and being bored of the local thumbsucker brigade.
posted by furiousthought at 12:26 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


What I have tried to do was back up those who think that the "anal rape" interpretation is a stretch, and show that there are other interpretations that might make more sense, even in the context of gamer speak.

When you have to rely on outdated, centuries old hermeneutical methods to say what is and what is not the 'correct' interpretation, you know you lost the argument.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:26 PM on March 8, 2013


Christing fuck

Please consider refraining from constructs such as this. Unlike, butthurt it actually has no meaning other than "exclamation point" and it's highly offensive to many people. To my reading, the only reason to use a phrase like that is to be aggressively and pointlessly offensive, so if that's not want you intend to convey, plenty of emoticons are available as substitutes.
posted by 0 at 12:28 PM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


But, back to your butthurt, I've never denied that some people believe the word to mean anal rape.

No. What I asked was not whether people believe this word, when said to them, means anal rape. I asked whether you are denying that there are people who use this word, towards others, to mean anal rape. Because your dismissiveness of their response as not "have a basis in reality" seems to indicate that you don't think anyone ever uses this word to mean this thing. Which has been proven wrong a few times so far. So their "belief" that the word can mean this thing is very much grounded in reality.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:29 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Back to your butthurt" is pretty subtle, too, by the way. Stay classy.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:30 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


furiousthought: Sort of torn between being bored of a witless internet cliché word and being bored of the local thumbsucker brigade.

"The important thing is that you've found a way to feel superior to both"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:30 PM on March 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


I thought it was pretty blatant, actually, since he used quotes around the word in the previous sentence.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 12:34 PM on March 8, 2013


But, back to your butthurt...

If this is discussing in bad faith...


It is.
posted by Etrigan at 12:34 PM on March 8, 2013


Wait, wait - I get to be a member of an actual BRIGADE for caring about other people? For being willing to avoid harm? To limit the thoughtlessness I commit?

SIGN ME UP! My thumb is READY!
posted by batmonkey at 12:35 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


i was always a pinky biter, not a thumb sucker.
posted by nadawi at 12:36 PM on March 8, 2013


So their "belief" that the word can mean this thing is very much grounded in reality.

There's an old joke about someone's daughter being accused of being a "practicing thespian", in a manner that was intended to be an insult.

Does the fact that the insulter believed "thespian" to mean "lesbian*" make it thus? or was the insulter wrong about the meaning of the word?

*obviously lesbian is not an insult, even though assholes try to use it as one, just want to put that out there so we don't go down this rabbit hole too
posted by sparklemotion at 12:36 PM on March 8, 2013


It reads to me an awful lot like "well, you can't blame those poor black folk for being uneducated, so it was my mistake for not talking down to their level".

You're quite an acrobat.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 12:40 PM on March 8, 2013


Sort of torn between being bored of a witless internet cliché word and being bored of the local thumbsucker brigade.

I like how being adult and considering one's actions is now considered babyish and weak.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:40 PM on March 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


that was a joke, this is reality.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:40 PM on March 8, 2013


Huh ... I would have thought this would be an easier conversation than the usual "please try to avoid this word" thread. If the request was "please stop using the phrase 'anal rape' to refer to winning a computer game," it might make sense to talk about whether certain metaphors should be off limits and how words affect people and so on. But this is more like "you might not want to use the word 'fnord,' because in the same sentence it will mean 'anal rape' to some people and 'baby who fell down' to others, rendering it the world's least useful language construct."

I mean, it's clear from comments that there are two distinct meanings, that lots of people only know one or the other meaning, and that it's usually impossible to tell which meaning you intend from context. So your reader might either think you just wrote a sentence about a baby falling down, or about rape, or might not be sure which one you intended. What the heck is the use case for a word like that? It's like a gun that either fires forward, backward, or sideways, but you don't find out which until you pull the trigger. Surely once someone informs you that this is how the gun operates, you stop using it.
posted by jhc at 12:42 PM on March 8, 2013 [23 favorites]


Does the fact that the insulter believed "thespian" to mean "lesbian*" an insult make it thus? or was the insulter wrong about the meaning of the word?

At the risk of engaging in what looks like a fruitless word game, I'd say "butthurt" is one of those words which have multiple meanings, that a very, very large set of folks use to mean anal rape, as opposed to your sole hypothetical joker changing the firmly established meaning of an otherwise harmless word.

The examples you're using remain way out of proportion and you keep dancing around this one pretty significant fact about how the word is used. But, as has been said, you are of course free to wave your flag and press on with your noble crusade to use this word, bearing in mind how the word is very often used, and how the other people in your community feel about you using it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:42 PM on March 8, 2013


To my reading, the only reason to use a phrase like that is to be aggressively and pointlessly offensive, so if that's not want you intend to convey, plenty of emoticons are available as substitutes.

If you're offended by it, say so. If you're just worrying that other people might be offended it might be worthwhile to save it and let those people speak for themselves.

This is entirely reasonable, but the reasonable follow-on assumption is that when hearing a word that people aren't sure about, they will look it up

The problem is that "look it up" can mean asking people around you. In fact linguistically, this is one of the ways we know what words mean The dictionary tells us what words have meant, in the past, but if you want to know what a word means at this moment in time, you sort of have to ask people at this moment in time. This is what this thread is about, asking people and listening to what they have to say. It's easy to point to a dictionary and say "See it supports/disagrees" and say end of story, but it's not the end of the story. Meaning is, in many cases, use. This is true whether you agree or disagree with it. It is a larger truth than you deciding that you know what a word means.

So, we're back again to talking about what a word means here, on MetaFilter, where a lot of people have come up through a gaming culture that, we're told, has used that term a lot in the past to refer to anal rape. This is true for those people whether or not you agree. You can decide they are a small group of people and you don't care. You can decide you don't care anyhow, really. You can decide maybe they are wrong. You can decide that you don't care about their feelings. You can decide you want to educate them. But you can't tell them what a word means if they are from a culture where it means something different to them. I mean, you can try, but it's a tricky business.

We've gone on record, as mods, saying that people who are offended by some terms (casual swearing, words like "mouth breather") may have to make their peace with the fact that those words are used here fairly regularly and there's not a big push for anyone to stop saying them. The mods use those words, they are part of the culture here. Other words are less central to this site's culture and are more open points of contention. We've tried to swear less on the podcast, for example, because hearing us swearing out loud a lot was jarring to some users and none of us felt like our right to swear as much as we wanted was essential in a context where we were making a thing for other people to listen to. Our choice, our decision. People here can make their own choice and their own decisions.

And as an aside: it would really be terrific if people on all sides of this issue would ease off some of the sneering sarcasm that seems to be pervasive in these sorts of discussions. It makes it easier to understand what you are saying and it makes you seem like less of a jerk which tends to make people weigh your opinions more favorably. Again, up to you, but after a decade of watching conversations go here, it's a friendly observation.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:44 PM on March 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


this isn't one person misusing a word in a silly example. this is lots of people using butthurt to mean rape enough that other people upon hearing it think of that usage first. queer might be a better example. if someone calls me queer, i will first think they're referring to perceived gayness, not that they think i'm just strange.
posted by nadawi at 12:47 PM on March 8, 2013


And as an aside: it would really be terrific if people on all sides of this issue would ease off some of the sneering sarcasm that seems to be pervasive in these sorts of discussions.

You're right; sorry for my part in that.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:49 PM on March 8, 2013


Thanks for starting this thread, Jpfed. I hate that term and used to flag it as offensive/sexism/racism.

I mean, if we're voting, I'm going to vote.
posted by purpleclover at 12:50 PM on March 8, 2013


I don't have anything to add to this discussion other than to congratulate Jpfed for framing this post about as well as is humanly possible to do.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:52 PM on March 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


If you're offended by it, say so. If you're just worrying that other people might be offended it might be worthwhile to save it and let those people speak for themselves.

Others came along and made their offense clear, but for awhile this was kind of my impression of the MeTa. It was probably just an instance of Jpfed editing for diplomacy, but I honestly couldn't tell if he found it offensive.
posted by ODiV at 12:53 PM on March 8, 2013


I'm really surprised as a gamer that people have experienced the word being used to mean rape, in my experience gamers just say rape when they mean rape.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:53 PM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Making fun of rape victims and using racially loaded language to promote your position is not helping this conversation or the world. Please stop.

Except that the poster had not done either of these things. Seeing people try to shut down any kind of conversation with this kind of attempt to attach motivations which are on the MeFi verboten list strikes me as much more of a threat to the site than using terms like butthurt, even though I dislike the term.
posted by biffa at 12:53 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sorry, personally offensive. In no way at all to suggest he was concern trolling.
posted by ODiV at 12:54 PM on March 8, 2013


Others came along and made their offense clear,

Sorry, I was referring to the objection to Christing fuck

It's really easy, here and elsewhere, to make up a pretend group of people who might object to a thing, or find a real group of people who are not in evidence on MetaFilter who might object to a thing. However our concern as moderators is not those people, it's the people who are a part of our community.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:56 PM on March 8, 2013


No need to apologize. You were absolutely clear.
posted by ODiV at 12:58 PM on March 8, 2013


Seeing people try to shut down any kind of conversation with this kind of attempt to attach motivations which are on the MeFi verboten list strikes me as much more of a threat to the site than using terms like butthurt, even though I dislike the term.

Attaching motivations seems to run in all directions when this conversation comes up. The motivations are one data point; how others around you are saying they respond to that word is another. One of these is clearer and easier to ascertain than the other. For example, the OP here made a request to reconsider the use of butthurt. The OPs response to the word's use is asking us to think about maybe not using it. Which I don't think is unreasonable or even close to being added to any official list, "verboten" or otherwise.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:59 PM on March 8, 2013


If you're offended by it, say so.

I assumed this was implied by my bringing it up. Yes, I'm offended by people being pointlessly offensive to the religious. I'm not sure how much you were addressing me in the rest of your comment, but to be clear it's not the swear-word bit that's offensive to me, it's the Lord's Name in Vain bit.
posted by 0 at 12:59 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


the idea that there is a hard and fast list is laughable anyway. someone referred to their sister as a bitch in the title of an askmetafilter post just yesterday.
posted by nadawi at 1:02 PM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


On the Internet, nobody knows you're a God.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:07 PM on March 8, 2013


ODiV, there isn't a verboten list... verboten would mean not to be spoken, and... a search through the whole site will show that there is essentially nothing which cannot be spoken (sorry 0, your concern is not going to be made into a rule; there is not a metafilter sanctioned/forced religion, thus there are not/will not be rules about following biblical regulations [though there are requests to be considerate of others, to avoid hostile/random side-swipes at swaths of people such as any given religious group, essentially to consider that other users are just other users, other people making sense of an abundance of stimuli, just like you are])
posted by infinite intimation at 1:07 PM on March 8, 2013


It was probably just an instance of Jpfed editing for diplomacy, but I honestly couldn't tell if he found it offensive.

I tried to phrase it in a way to de-emphasize my own feelings because I thought the thread was going to go far worse than it did, and foresaw getting more personal attacks if I made it about me instead of about a population that I happen to be a part of. I was pleasantly surprised by how things turned/are turning out, and am grateful to all commenters, regardless of their position, for having given the issue some thought and talking about it here.
posted by Jpfed at 1:09 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've never used the word in question and I'm not defending it's use. I do have one question though. There are some words or phrases with several meanings. For example, here on MetaFilter "bless your heart" pretty much means "fuck you" half the time, and half the time it really means "bless your heart". So now someone comes along and says "bless your heart", really meaning it, do readers get to determine the writers intent? Do we get to say, stop saying "bless your heart" it really bothers me regardless of the writers intent?

What I am asking, is do you get to determine the intent of my words? If I say butthurt, meaning spanked, do you get to determine I really mean rape?
posted by Ad hominem at 1:10 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jpfed: Yeah, I absolutely didn't mean to call your motives into question there, sorry. What I was trying to convey was that on reading your post I found myself thinking along Jessamyn's lines (if you're offended, say so, otherwise let someone else bring it up), which is why I quoted her comment.

infinite intimation: Maybe you meant to address that to someone else?
posted by ODiV at 1:13 PM on March 8, 2013


Intensifiers and colorful coinages are fun, and I am a little troubled by the sense that, even if each individual request like this one is made in perfect good faith, the cumulative effect is that our norm formation around here is moving toward passive-aggressive moralistic censoriousness.

to be clear it's not the swear-word bit that's offensive to me, it's the Lord's Name in Vain bit

And you seriously think that other people on the Internet at large should defer to your private religious sensibilities about this? This strikes me as a terrific example of the problem with this sort of "offense"-based language policing. Metafilter is, thankfully, not bound by the strictures of your religion, and if it were, many of us would leave.

I mean, it's clear from comments that there are two distinct meanings, that lots of people only know one or the other meaning, and that it's usually impossible to tell which meaning you intend from context.

Premises 1 and 2 are obvious, but 3 (which restless_nomad also asserted) is false. It's very easy to give most people who use an ambiguous phrase on Metafilter the benefit of the doubt for using it in a rape-negative sense, because Metafilter on the whole is unfriendly to rape jokes and metaphors (which I think is great, by the way). This site and its culture are the context.
posted by RogerB at 1:14 PM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


sorry 0, your concern is not going to be made into a rule

What's funny is that 0 phrased his desire in exactly the same way that Jpfed did. "Please don't do this". And I think that in both 0 and Jpfed's case, not making a hard an fast rule -- or even a tribal knowledge rule is the right answer.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:15 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was a dual response, saying, to you "there isn't a verboten list"; and to "0", 'no, it is pretty much 100% unlikely that metafilter is going to begin enforcing biblical strictures'.
posted by infinite intimation at 1:15 PM on March 8, 2013


it's not the swear-word bit that's offensive to me, it's the Lord's Name in Vain bit.

The casual use of "Christing" seems fairly different than the OP's concerns about "butthurt", and it's buried pretty far down in this thread; you might consider making a new MetaTalk post about this, if you'd like to gauge whether people are receptive to refraining from taking Jesus Christ's name in vain.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:15 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's say the term "butthurt" is being used solely to tell an interlocutor that her concerns are insignificant by comparing her to a toddler. It's still a shitty thing to say, and like "use your words" is demeaning and dismissive.

Many users don't have a problem appearing to demean or dismiss others. It's not exactly winning an argument, but some of us seem to think that if we're shitty enough to another user that he shuts up, victory can be claimed.

That's too bad. Discourse between adults is never improved when we treat each other like children.

When you remove the hypothetical "solely" above, and take into account that to some non-zero number of users, the term "butthurt" is a rape reference, it's pretty obvious to anyone interested in adult discourse that no matter which meaning is intended, it's not really a term to throw around.

There are those who would call this the creeping vanguard of censorship. Perhaps they should run along and tell Henny Penny.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 1:17 PM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


It shouldn't be too hard to remove the ambiguity. I mean I don't know about you but my buttocks are smarting over this whole thing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:18 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


How is butthurt [granting removal of all violational intent, which is not really in evidence] so just the meaning of "your worries are pathetic and infantile, childish caterwauling" not
"passive-aggressive moralistic censoriousness".

It is a way of saying "and since your worries are below my bar for acceptable non-patheticness"... "next". Pretty toxic.
posted by infinite intimation at 1:19 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's too bad. I kind of liked "butthurt." But I guess you've convinced me.
posted by 256 at 1:21 PM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


What I am asking, is do you get to determine the intent of my words?

There is a difference, a critical one, between intent and effect. No one else can determine your intent. But you as the writer do not have control over the effect. And insofar as the reaction people have goes, your intent doesn't matter much at all.

This site and its culture are the context.

This site and its culture are part of the greater context of the internet. I mean, I winced a little the first time I saw Jessamyn use it, but I assumed she must not mean it the way I had always heard it used. But when a user I don't particularly recognize uses it, I don't know for sure where they're coming from with it. They might be coming from gamer culture, which is often casually toxic, or they might be a new mom with crying babies who fall down a lot on their mind.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:21 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Urban Dictionary: Butt Hurt

1. butt hurt

May 2, 2006 Urban Word of the Day

some one who doesnt know how to take a joke, and they take the joke like they just took it to the ass
hey its just a joke, dont get all butt hurt
...
5. Butt Hurt

To become offended or upset (such as you would after taking it in the ass in prison) after a smart-assed comment is made. Most of the time it is over something pathetic
Carl got real butt hurt after receiving the nickname Hot-Carl.

6. butt hurt

This emotion usually stems from an unfounded sensitivity to a superficial prank, joke, or durogatory statement. It's most hilarious uses are on highly religious or homophobic people since it also implicates the hyper-sensitive person as being a big Mo if male, or an anal-receiving Sperm Sponge if female.
I don't know why Tom Cruise got so butt hurt about that in the closet episode on South Park when he probably owns his own astro-glide production plant to keep up with the amount of anal lube he goes through.
The connotations and denotations of anal rape seem inescapable to me, and I'm wondering what could possibly be going on with the people who feel such a need to deny them.
posted by jamjam at 1:21 PM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


WTF is a big Mo? OED is failing me.
posted by biffa at 1:25 PM on March 8, 2013


WTF is a big Mo?

"Mo" is short for "Homo."
posted by Etrigan at 1:27 PM on March 8, 2013


" mo", homosexual, go watch " The Opposite Of Sex".
posted by The Whelk at 1:27 PM on March 8, 2013


I winced a little the first time I saw Jessamyn use it

Yeah and I had no idea about the varying histories of the word and I just don't use it anymore.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:27 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


And I now know that people mean different things and I don't wince as hard! It's mostly a win-win.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:29 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


" mo", homosexual, go watch " The Opposite Of Sex".

(Fun Fact: this is also why Mo is the name of the main character in Alison Bechdel's Dykes To Watch Out For!)
posted by Greg Nog at 1:30 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Pretty toxic."
-but forgot to add... and well within the right of anyone to choose to use, and no one who used it with no knowledge of what others were seeing in it, or who just think that saying someone else in a discussion is a maroon is the best tactic are most likely fine upstanding people, I should also add, my badge just says "karate yellow belt", I never sent in the UPC's to get the Thumbusucker-Brigade-Badger.

It sort of feels strange that because I took some time to think about how I considered this widely used term (which as noted, is infrequently used on this particular site, mostly because it is seen as weak sauce discussion, and happened to find myself opposite, or to one side or the other of someone else, on this minute issue, that I am potentially to be considered a thumbsucking, censorious, caterwauling child, willfully ignorant of "true-meanings" of words, only "acting on my emotions"... guilty of "policing" others language, the razors edge of the slippery slope.

Free is as free does.
posted by infinite intimation at 1:33 PM on March 8, 2013


And I now know that people mean different things and I don't wince as hard!

I had an experience like this over a pretty notorious racial slur. A guy I worked with used this word, and I asked him not to use it around me. In the discussion that followed, I learned that he was under the impression that this word was just a colloquialism with no offensive context, and he learned a bit about the history of this word. His response was one of sincere regret, and I learned to keep a slightly cooler head when seeing or hearing someone use this word in public. So the net gain of us actually talking about the word led to probably the most important element in any discussion about communication in group settings: empathy. Trying for empathy sorta has the effect of reducing speculation about motivations, for one, but in my experience it also tends to lead to people actually listening to and hearing each other.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:36 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Mo" is short for "Homo."

Through a laborious and careful process of pruning we will eventually get all words down to two letters.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:38 PM on March 8, 2013


Frst y lmnt th vwls....
posted by zarq at 1:41 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is a difference, a critical one, between intent and effect. No one else can determine your intent. But you as the writer do not have control over the effect. And insofar as the reaction people have goes, your intent doesn't matter much at all.

I'm cool with this. We already deprecated "die in a fire" and "suck a bag of dicks" years ago. Hopefully "whipping boy" will be next.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:44 PM on March 8, 2013


Also adding a tally to the "Unhappy with being anally raped" observation. Actually, this is the only place I've ever seen someone *not* gleefully say "Yeah, it means butt rape. u mad, bro?" with regards to its meaning. (That there's 'more innocuous' interpretations was mildly surprising to find out)

Then again, the only place I've seen it used beyond here was online gaming and online gaming forums known for their gleeful delight in condemning all things 'gay, faggish,' and similar things. Look at the above references to 4chan, Urban Dictionary, Reddit, and the like. This isn't an isolated mindset.


So... I don't think anyone's trying to say "We now decree that anyone using the term 'butthurt' will be cast down as a terrible sexist who jokes about anal rape".

More simply though, I think this serves as an open question in my mind whenever someone does use it. "Did this person know of or think of it as a pejorative about rape and continue to use it anyways? Or not?"

And either way, having to question that about the writer is probably not ideal for the writer and their intended message.
posted by CrystalDave at 1:45 PM on March 8, 2013


I had an experience like this over a pretty notorious racial slur. A guy I worked with used this word, and I asked him not to use it around me. In the discussion that followed, I learned that he was under the impression that this word was just a colloquialism with no offensive context, and he learned a bit about the history of this word.

We've had some really great threads about words that are actually based in ethnic or racial slurs, but which fly under many people's radars.

But a very common such word which never has come up in those discussions around here as far I know, and which seems to be used freely by everybody, including me, is "slave", which refers to the Slavs.

And I don't really understand why it's such an exceptional case.
posted by jamjam at 1:57 PM on March 8, 2013


WTF is a big Mo?

"Mo" is short for "Homo."


Big Mo' is or was also the name of a candy bar that Dale Earnhardt Jr. launched. Seeing it for sale at convenience stores throughout South Carolina used to make me giggle like the 12-year old I apparently still am.

The caramel one was pretty tasty.
posted by DingoMutt at 1:59 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


So is mamluk. 'Slav' isn't that exceptional.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:59 PM on March 8, 2013


The Big Mo is also a drive-in theater in South Carolina.
posted by TedW at 2:06 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


But a very common such word which never has come up in those discussions around here as far I know, and which seems to be used freely by everybody, including me, is "slave", which refers to the Slavs.

Words gradually get dissociated from their original meanings. This is just how culture works. At some point you get to a point where most people fail to associate a word from its origin, or associate it with a more prevalent meaning, and meaning shifts. I think people aren't there with butthurt, as much as we might wish it. And while we've had people who are concerned at the word slave being tossed around cavalierly in the past (maybe? I am not certain) no one has objected to the Slavic origin of the word slave.

Again, part of this is trying to gauge community response. If you are the one person who has a problem the response may be to tell you to try to adjust your thinking. If you're one of several dozen people who share an understanding of a word, the response may be different. And these meanings and whether or not people care about them shift from community to community. We've talked in the past about MeFi not being a "safe space" as many people understand that term and so some of the ways we talk here may not fly in other online places.

It's challenging to try to be cognizant of this code-switching but a lot of people manage to do it in other parts of their life (work/school/church/social) so I don't think it's an all new thing to talk about that conceptually here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:07 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is a way of saying "and since your worries are below my bar for acceptable non-patheticness"

If that's your reading of my comment, it's miles from what I was trying to say. I think this discussion is mostly a great thing, and I certainly don't think it's out of bounds for anyone to be bothered by the implicit rape metaphor that's clearly sometimes invoked by uses of the word "butthurt." I just also think this community in general needs to be more careful about taking moralistic stances about "offensiveness" and needs to realize that colorful language, and being welcoming to a wide range of language-uses and forms of linguistic inventiveness, are legitimate competing goods in situations like this one. I mean, people are making arguments in this thread that MeFites should refrain from taking the Lord's name in vain, or from using all curse words (and the mods are, sadly only-half-jokingly, beginning to self-censor their lovely, wonderful, charming cursing on the podcast), or disqualify all potentially insulting words because someone might use them to describe an interlocutor in a thread. And what I'm getting at by calling it passive-aggressive is just to agree with Brandon Blatcher when he says:

Also, enough with the "Hey, I'm just asking" please. You're not just [...] asking, you're trying to find and build a community [consensus] on what words to use and then apply social pressure for said usage.

I personally am totally convinced by this discussion that I should be very careful with the word "butthurt" even though I see its primary meaning as "crybabyish" (a good substitute! I'll be using that instead!), and it's not really even a word that I ever use or feel attached to. I just think the "bad language" policing is a little bit much sometimes, too, even when it's framed as "asking" for a community norm rather than a new rule.
posted by RogerB at 2:10 PM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Goodness me...

I once posted a comment on the blue linking to an Internet Butthurt Report Form. I think it was that dandy thread about...oh, that old 80s pop singer that got all mad at some guy in a bar or something. Either way, that's here nor there.

My father is a truck driver. Frequently in our house, you are jokingly chided as being butthurt if you're being a baby. My father's language, while wholly appropriate when it should be, is quite colorful and there should be a dictionary of phrases and words that man uses because his grasp of the funny side of the English language is fucking brilliant.

That said. I had no idea there was this negative connotation to the word for some. I never said it (on mefi or elsewhere) with the intent to imply anything like anal rape, an association I just absolutely do not get, BUT. I will happily refrain from using that term here ever again. I'm a decent human. I don't want to hurt other people.

If anyone was offended by my saying that Richard Marx (that's the guy, JUST REMEMBERED!) was butthurt, I truly apologize. Genuinely. I'm a trucker's daughter, I knew no better. Now I do. In the future I will govern myself accordingly.
posted by youandiandaflame at 2:18 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


and the mods are, sadly only-half-jokingly, beginning to self-censor their lovely, wonderful, charming cursing on the podcast

We're just trying it on, because unintentional language use was something we decided to pay attention to. Just like I decided to rag on cortex less because even if some people maybe found it hilarious, it wasn't something that I wanted to be my thing. I like cortex a lot and I don't want to be teasing him all the time in a way that makes it seem like I dislike him or was passive-aggressively needling him, so I decided to make an effort. All of us realized we were swearing way more than we thought we were, so we figured we'd dial it back and then see what we felt like doing from this point forward. Your feeling about our swearing isn't the only feeling. We try things; language use ebbs and flows.

I totally hear you that it's worth thinking about all the sides of how this sort of thing comes across and the "legitimate competing good" thing is a valid approach to have. But having an open conversation about it is the way to allow people to make their own decisions with the mods very clearly saying "This is not a disallowed word, but let's talk about why people don't like it" and we can go from here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:19 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Aw, I liked butthurt. I always thought it meant "hurt" and the added butt is because...butts are funny. Damn.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:24 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, my deal with swearing and the podcast is more curiosity about my own self-awareness and unconscious patterns of speech than anything; I'm not making any kind of long-term commitment to trying to become Clean Of Mouth or anything like that, but I'm sort of wondering if I'm just tossing fifty sort of impactless "fuckin'"s into every podcast out of sheer habit, etc. None of us would ever suggest that the podcast should or will be safe for people who dislike blue language, and none of us has any kind of problem with cursing as art or recreation, it's just interesting to do a little critical analysis of this stuff sometimes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:25 PM on March 8, 2013


I'm apparently late to the thread, but here are my thoughts on the subject anyway.

I've never said the word "butthurt" out loud. I don't think I've ever typed it either, if Firefox's spellcheck red-squiggly-line thing is anything to judge by. I'm happy to continue not using it, because at the very least, it's mildly offensive to some.

I was totally unaware of the association with anal rape until this meta. I'd guess that it's because I'd never seen it used in that context. I've only ever seen it used to mean whiny and/or petulant, as noted above.

I wonder if it's easier for my to wrap my head around this because of my experiences of someone using a word that describes me to mean something offensive - using "gay" to mean "stupid". Knowing that the way I felt when someone did that probably makes it easier for me to empathise.

Ultimately, you can say what you want. But if you're going to attempt to communicate with other people, rather than just shout your words at them, you might want to take a look at what you're saying and what those words mean to that someone. Perhaps that's a difference - wanting to have a dialogue and communicate with someone versus wanting to say what you want, entirely free of consequence.
posted by Solomon at 2:26 PM on March 8, 2013


I just think the "bad language" policing is a little bit much sometimes, too, even when it's framed as "asking" for a community norm rather than a new rule.

I look at it totally differently. As a person who lives on the internet, and as a writer in general, I want my primary tool for communication to be as effective and precise as possible. I want to narrow that gap between intent and effect as much as I can. And the only way I can do that is by understanding not just the dictionary definition but the connotations of as many words as possible, and the their perception by as many types of audiences as possible.

Now, mostly when I am talking in a one-to-many kind of situation - a forum, Twitter, Facebook - I am going to choose words that don't offend classes of people. If I want to offend a particular person, there are ways to do it that won't bring in whole groups on their side by catching them in the area effect. Starting a pile-on isn't my idea of a good time, especially when my original intent gets completely lost. So I am always happy to learn about how different groups perceive different words, because knowing makes be a better communicator, and communicating is what I do.

This doesn't just apply to "bad language." It applies to good language too - for example, think of a couple of positive things to say about someone that rely on in-group markers. Saying someone "has balls," for example, is one I tend to avoid, because I don't generally want to imply that masculinity and courage are equivalent. It's not about political correctness, it's about precision.

Which is why I find the backlash to this sort of thing more confusing than anything. Why would you not want to know about the effect you're having on people? The point of writing things on the internet is to affect readers in some way - why not do it in as controlled a fashion as possible? Toddlers can shout obscenities for a reaction - I prefer to take the time to aim.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:28 PM on March 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


RogerB: "and the mods are, sadly only-half-jokingly, beginning to self-censor their lovely, wonderful, charming cursing on the podcast"

oh for zephram's sake.
posted by boo_radley at 2:41 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps that's a difference - wanting to have a dialogue and communicate with someone versus wanting to say what you want, entirely free of consequence.

That's the maddening part of these "discussions". Once the request has been, the general consensus is that if you do use the word, you're the asshole. It's a very black and white view which rarely is useful in conversations. It make sense when everyone is in the same personal space, but less so on a global website.

There's also the tricky situation of having victims of trauma define the conversation or portraying trauma survivors as one monolithic group, who all find a certain term offensive. The former is understandable, even desirable in some circumstances, but not necessarily all. The latter is an unhelpful assumption.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:54 PM on March 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


Once the request has been, the general consensus is that if you do use the word, you're the asshole.

It sounds like you're saying "Not only do I want to keep using this word, I don't want anybody to think I'm an asshole for using it." That seems. . . not particularly supportable.
posted by KathrynT at 3:08 PM on March 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Even if it has absolutely nothing to do with anal sex, it's infantile and rude, so I have no problem with not using it.
posted by empath at 3:16 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Butthurt" seems like a pretty childish expression, and borders on 1447-y jargon. It definitely makes whoever is using it look like a 15-year-old ass.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:32 PM on March 8, 2013


> I assumed it came from "pain in the ass,"

Good point. So are pain in the ass and PITA also not OK? All the same reasoning would seem to apply. Or do they get a pass just until someone issues a meta callout specifically about them?
posted by jfuller at 3:32 PM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I do not think we should be using the expression "15-year-old ass" on MetaFilter, for obvious reasons.
posted by found missing at 3:38 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Pain in the ass" is probably grandfathered along with stuff like "sucks" and "lame". Not like any of this is official, but that's what I'd guess would be the general opinion. I don't know that reasoning has much to do with it except that it's reasonable to think about whether we use words based on how they make people feel.
posted by ODiV at 3:40 PM on March 8, 2013


So are pain in the ass and PITA also not OK?

I'm not aware of any problematic connotations or history with those phrases.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:49 PM on March 8, 2013


Good point. So are pain in the ass and PITA also not OK? All the same reasoning would seem to apply.

I think the difference there is that basically nobody directly associates "pain in the ass" with jokes about anal rape, and as people have already said in this thread, that's very much untrue of "butthurt"
posted by kagredon at 3:56 PM on March 8, 2013


And I don't really understand why it's such an exceptional case.

I meant for our culture as a whole, not on Metafilter.
posted by jamjam at 4:01 PM on March 8, 2013


And there's also "slovenly."
posted by jamjam at 4:03 PM on March 8, 2013


The ultimate etymology of "sloven", and of "slut" is a literally unclean person (untidy, with dirt on them)--neither word was used to mean a woman whose sexual choices the speaker found metaphorically unclean until the 16th century.

"Sloven" has always retained its "literally unclean" meaning as well as its sexual meaning, and "slovenly" has as far as I have encountered it always been used to mean "literally unclean", never in a sexual sense.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:15 PM on March 8, 2013


Whoops, I meant "15th century" above.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:17 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This entire conversation reminds me of the patient arguments back in 1989 or so about why "mankind" is supposedly a gender-neutral term and anyone who tries to change language is just silly busybody.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:23 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh. Even though I'd heard the anal rape theory before, it never really stuck with me. I don't think I use "butthurt" all that often, though it's super common at my office, which is pretty sensitive around anti-LGBT and sexual assault language.
posted by klangklangston at 4:29 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


> I'm not aware of any problematic connotations or history with those phrases.

Nor was I aware of any problematic connotations of "butthurt." (Urbandictionary, not the most delicate site on earth, returns five pages of results for butthurt, and they're all some variation on #1--"An inappropriately strong negative emotional response from a perceived personal insult"--until you reach #31 on p5, where you at last get a definition involving anal rape.) But now I've been educated by mefi about the the problematic connotation of butthurt lurking down there at #31 and it seems worthwhile to at least ask whether there is some equally below-the-radar connotation of PITA that I've missed in my innocence. I wouldn't want it to be me that triggers the next tempest in the meta teapot.
posted by jfuller at 4:47 PM on March 8, 2013


until you reach #31 on p5, where you at last get a definition involving anal rape

You linked to ButtHurt, where the anal rape connotations become clear at item #6. Try butt hurt to see them sooner.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 4:56 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wasn't being sarcastic. I'm not aware of any; perhaps someone else is, and we'll all learn a new thing!
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:56 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Part of the fun of the English language - and the Internet generally - is these lively, odd coinages. I think it makes for a less fun, freewheeling discussion when we need to phrase every single comment in the nicest, most non-offensive way possible.

I understand the need to create a respectful environment, and I would never use 'rape' in the colloquial gamer sense or 'gay' as an insult or even 'retard'. I censor the c-word, even when quoting Australians who use it as a term of affection. But coming down on a coinage like 'butthurt' seems to be almost a self-parody of the hyper-nice, non-offensive MeFi style.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:12 PM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


when we need to phrase every single comment in the nicest, most non-offensive way possible.

But you DON'T need to. You just need to be aware that if you don't, some people will have a reaction to your words that you may not intend, and they may alter their opinion of you as a result.
posted by KathrynT at 5:14 PM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Think there's also probably some wiggle room between using butthurt and being as nice and non-offensive as possible. Heated, emotional and passionate debate can be fun and engaging. I don't think a single person in this thread has suggested dropping any of that.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:29 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I wasn't being sarcastic.

I didn't think you were, I promise, and I was not either. Well, language changes and usage changes.
posted by jfuller at 5:35 PM on March 8, 2013


Big Mo' is or was also the name of a candy bar that Dale Earnhardt Jr. launched. Seeing it for sale at convenience stores throughout South Carolina used to make me giggle like the 12-year old I apparently still am.

I'm reminded of a sign I've seen in TJ Maxx stores labeling a rack of gym shorts "active bottoms." I've sworn to steal the next one I see.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:50 PM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


restless nomad asked:
"Why would you not want to know about the effect you're having on people? The point of writing things on the internet is to affect readers in some way - why not do it in as controlled a fashion as possible?"

Exactly and precisely.

Since we've had conversations like this before, I admit that I gave in to frustrated grouching far too soon. But this is what is running through my head and heart the whole time.

When I learned about the perception and impact of "denigrate", I didn't go into a lengthy justification of why I should still get to use it or how common it is or anything else. I just started working on not using it anymore. And I guess I think of that kind of response as the preferable default.

I just don't understand the other approach - it seems so negative and dismissive, and for what? It's not like there aren't a million other words out there. Better ones. More useful ones, certainly. More amusing ones, even.
posted by batmonkey at 6:38 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


wait, "denigrate" is offensive? no way. that's like claiming that "causasian" is a slur on asians. after reading this thread, i get the "butthurt" thing, and especially since i am not 14 years old i don't have a problem not using it. but "denigrate"? sorry, no.
posted by facetious at 7:11 PM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Denigrate? What? Haven't heard any issues with denigrate, before.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:11 PM on March 8, 2013


I also had no idea that butthurt could be/was related to sexual assault. I've always thought of it as "pain in the ass" as in "annoying". In any case, I've never used it and will continue to not use it especially in light of this. As someone who has suffered sexual assault it's not something I like to joke about or make light of.
posted by deborah at 7:24 PM on March 8, 2013


I think it makes for a less fun, freewheeling discussion when we need to phrase every single comment in the nicest, most non-offensive way possible.

Your hyperbolic interpretation of this MetaFilter discussion reflects more on your own thinking patterns and less on what is actually going on here in this thread. No one said or implied what you are hearing here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:24 PM on March 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


"The important thing is that you've found a way to feel superior to both"

It's not like it's hard. On the one hand you have dumb gamers being dumb gamers; on the other hand you have a bunch of precious, vain, shitty little prigs looking for a cheap public way to peacock their sensitiveness despite that the instinct to coddle everybody's traumas is – well, it's as natural and thoughtless as the instinct to impose austerity in times of depression, and as universally effective. But it's public and that's what's most important! And ones you start going down this road – okay, look at this "denigrate" conversation; I don't really have to conjure up a straw man slippery slope here – it's all about which little priss can hold his code as the most comprehensive and therefore valid. Mostly, these little moral panics are a way for small, powerless people to wield power over other small people, while doing as little as possible to actually help anybody. I stand by my assessment.
posted by furiousthought at 7:36 PM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm going to phrase this carefully so as not to offend anyone. furiousthought, your comment is bad.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:42 PM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Bless your heart.
posted by dogrose at 7:42 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Strangely, I'd never connected it to anal rape, either. It always seemed to me to be a way of saying that the person objecting to a thing is acting in an 'unmanly' way, like it would be assumed that a gay man would react to anal sex, by saying it hurt.

The way I've heard it used, and taken it to mean is a much, much more dismissive and ugly phrase, that the person complaining about the problem is less than a 'real man' and, worse, is whining not unlike a gay man. It's using a hurtful stereotype of gay people as a way to silence others by likening them to a gay person as the insult in itself, as in, 'you're upset about what happened and complaining about it because you're not a real man, because a real man wouldn't have let that happen anyway.'

I'm not saying rape isn't clearly part of the issue here, what I'm saying is that it has always seemed to refer to degrading a person by implying that anal sex is something that they would welcome, and are therefore gay.

It's a ridiculous, childish way of lashing out, of trying to prove superiority by using slurs to silence people. Seriously, that's what people want to defend? That's the witticism that moves people so profoundly that they don't care who you hurt, or what ugly stereotypes they help perpetuate?
posted by Ghidorah at 7:44 PM on March 8, 2013


peacock their sensitiveness

*cackle*

I would say "eponysterical," but just the "furious" is really coming through.
posted by mph at 7:44 PM on March 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Denigrate has no history of being used in a racist manner. That being said, the author of the linked piece argues that if people start taking offense, it is useful to use the word with caution.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:25 PM on March 8, 2013


Now I'm terribly curious about the origin of "pain in the ass."
posted by sonika at 8:30 PM on March 8, 2013


Apparently, expressions like "you give me a pain" date back to 1908; it was regionalized to the neck in 1924 and finally moved to the ass in 1934, presumably searching for the place where the pain would be felt most acutely.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:34 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Believe me, I had a similar reaction to the whole "denigrate" thing that y'all are having about it now. I speedily searched and read everything I could about it. It left me confused and ready to share knowledge.

I asked one of the people who'd brought this interpretation of it to my attention and they pointed me here. And they said, "It basically means to literally make something or someone into a n-word".

And that was it for me. I didn't really care that I could make a case for it. There are tons of other words I can use instead. Well, maybe a half-ton. There are situations where I can use it (generally verbally) and I'll use my judgment in those situations. But broadly, where people don't know who I am or my intentions? Nup. And certainly not with those who said it takes them to an uncomfortable place.

It's a big world. Bad things happen in it. Gods, do I know that. We don't have a very good infrastructure for helping people through those things, for allowing them to properly heal. Instead, we prefer a societal model that essentially constantly abrades them. Given the opportunity to modulate word usage to be one less rough spot in the world, I'll take that opportunity in a heartbeat.
posted by batmonkey at 8:52 PM on March 8, 2013


Thus explaining the brief popularity of the song " You Give My Spleen A Pain Gertie ( But I Loves You So)" in 1927
posted by The Whelk at 8:52 PM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


FWIW I've always understood it to be a dig at anyone that's been anally penetrated, consent or no. Bottoms are like women who get penetrated, and therefore contemptible, except even more so because it means consenting to pain and soreness so another man can get off (so the bigots think) which is super unmanly in the same way that prissy whining about "trivial" stuff is and so on.

I really hate the word.

So go ahead, use it. Whatever. Don't pretend like you get to be all surprised and hurt when I call you a loathsome turdgolem in response, though.
posted by kavasa at 8:53 PM on March 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Oh hey someone even just straight-up used "prissy" in the exact way I was talking about. Imagine that.
posted by kavasa at 8:56 PM on March 8, 2013


Turdgolem. Now there's a good word.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:59 PM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


batmonkey, you have a good heart. but the person you were talking to doesn't know what "denigrate" means.
posted by facetious at 9:01 PM on March 8, 2013


I think it makes for a less fun, freewheeling discussion when we need to phrase every single comment in the nicest, most non-offensive way possible.

-Your hyperbolic interpretation of this MetaFilter discussion reflects more on your own thinking patterns and less on what is actually going on here in this thread. No one said or implied what you are hearing here.

It was their opinion, after all, and there's no absolute interpretation. The pattern here could easily be that people who are often accused of being humorless in this way are taking this very personally. Or maybe some people naturally repress any thoughts of anal sex, and then get upset when presented with a phrase that leads them to imagine it. What I seriously discount, however, is the pseudo-sensitivity that categorically permits us to ask a tall person to leave a room just because someone in the room was traumatized by a tall person, for example. Even if the tall person wants to leave the room and feels very guilty and admits to probably being a worthless scum too, that's no way to recover, and it proves nothing.
posted by Brian B. at 9:06 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I appreciate that, facetious, and, yeah, that's probably true. But the point is that not only did it bring up something painful for them, they're not alone (searching on it educated me about this maelstrom around it that I'd never imagined), and it doesn't harm me or cut into my ability to communicate effectively to leave it out.

And that's with something where the word and offense relationship is far less traceable or supported than the whole "butt hurt/butthurt" thing. In that case, I really have only heard it used in the ways that jam jam quoted and linked, and I was actually surprised that there's a whole set of people who had absolutely no idea that was a heavily popular usage. I not only have no problem not using it, I've always been extremely puzzled or put off by people who did.

And even if the user meant "crybaby" or "spanked", they're taking the dialogue in a direction that doesn't have much room for positivity or mutual understanding. I can't really endorse that, either.
posted by batmonkey at 9:11 PM on March 8, 2013


the person you were talking to doesn't know what "denigrate" means

It means to blacken; I actually think the contemporary expression "to throw shade" is an almost perfect updating of the term.

The case for racism is two-fold. The first is that it shares the same Latin root and both Negro and the N-word -- specifically, the Latin adjective niger, which, incidentally, is likely partly where the Niger River gets its name from. It's almost certain that the Latin root wasn't intended racially; however, a lot contemporary versions refer to black people, so it's easy to see why people would make the connection.

The other argument is that there is something essentially troubling about identifying the color black as representing something reprehensible or sinister or corrupt and white as being the opposite, and our language is full of that sort of usage. Neither arguments make the case that denigrate is essentially or necessarily racist in origin or usage, but if it troubles someone, I won't use it around them.

If I got any of this wrong, I will trust Languagehat to correct me.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:13 PM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


The part of that intrigued me about that etymology of "denigrate" was this bit:
"Apparently disused in 18th c. and revived in 19th c." [OED]
The term was revived in precisely the century in which the battles over the legality of racist slavery occurred, both in England and in the United States? That's pretty interesting, and lends some support, I think, to the notion that it may well have some racially-tinged history.
posted by koeselitz at 9:48 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


(I mean, obviously it's nothing like conclusive evidence, but it's certainly interesting that the word was already distinctly separated from its sixteenth-century Latinate roots.)
posted by koeselitz at 9:52 PM on March 8, 2013


You give me a pain"it was regionalized to the neck in 1924 and finally moved to the ass in 1934, presumably searching for the place where the pain would be felt most acutely."->"pain in the butt": My first thought was needles (though I would have to do far more searching to see some records of injection practices). I wonder what effect the rise of a common experience among wide swaths of the adult population, with vaccination and injection programs coming with the mass mobilizations to far reaches of the world and migrations of people in the era, considering some of the injection projects of of the US Army were definitely of the experimental sort, and as these studies of this history seem to show, the practices varied, and at the start it was quite haphazard in the methodology. Also fully possible that the "regionalization" had absolutely nothing to do with this, as this is purely speculative, some events of 1924-34:
A method for inactivating tetanus toxin with formaldehyde was developed by Ramon in the early 1920's which led to the development of tetanus toxoid by Descombey in 1924. It was first widely used during World War II.

In 1933, tetanus toxoid was licensed in the United States.

The Army immunization program was a positive, direct, and specific approach to disease prevention and control. This program as it developed just before and during the war period represented a very considerable expansion of the application of immunization procedures in the Army.

People traveling to places with poor sanitation used to get antibodies administered in the buttocks, because of the large volume of fluid to be injected.

Development of the typhoid Vi polysaccharide injectable vaccine and live attenuated typhoid vaccine capsules rendered obsolete the whole-cell typhoid vaccines, renowned for high degrees of injection-site pain and swelling, fever, and systemic reactions.
posted by infinite intimation at 9:56 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


it seems worthwhile to at least ask whether there is some equally below-the-radar connotation of PITA that I've missed in my innocence

One obvious distinction between "butthurt" and "pain in the ass" is that the latter is referring to the speaker's own ass. Some people say it, "pain in my ass." It seems unlikely that the expression would have developed from an idea like "that person is so annoying it's like he raped me."

Re "butthurt," I read it first on Metafilter I think, and I assumed it had something to do with anal penetration. My first thought was, "what would make someone's butt hurt," and spanking was not what jumped to mind. I have no history with gaming--so FWIW, people can interpret the word in that strongly negative way even without the gamer context.

I've always wondered why people used it when it seemed, at the very least, ambiguous. So I'm glad for the discussion.
posted by torticat at 10:02 PM on March 8, 2013


I have never before heard any connection between butthurt and anal rape, though I have seen it used in a childish way to dismiss other people's comments. Never really bothered me, and looking back at its use here, I still don't see how it casts aspersions to anal rape, except where it is claimed here in this thread. Someone mentioned paging Dr. Freud, and that might not be completely wrong.

But beyond that, I'm just shocked, utterly shocked at just how much the community norms have changed over offensive language, being personally acquainted with what happens when criticizing someone on Metatalk for using loaded language. It's a bit stunning to see a complete 180 happen in just a few years. Not sure if it is good, or bad, or what, but it is certainly different.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:44 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bunny Ultramod & koeselitz: Yes! Precisely the argument that negated any pushback from me. I already work to be attentive to "shady" and "dark intentions" and the like, and a conversation involving such things invited the introduction to this perception of "denigrate".

There's apparently a pronunciation aspect, too, wherein the second syllable is emphasised in such a way as to make the oppressive/othering aspect more obvious. I think we'd definitely need a languagehat or someone similarly versed to suss that aspect, though.
posted by batmonkey at 10:58 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone mentioned paging Dr. Freud, and that might not be completely wrong.

Well, the thing is, when you get anally raped, 1) your butt hurts when it happens and 2) it's a rather striking experience that comes to mind very easily thereafter. It's not that I'm stuck in the anal stage or have an anal fixation or whatever deeply silly idea Freud had about how children develop; it's that I have a set of memories that has a very straightforward association with the term. I imagine it's similar for others that have been anally raped.

It's also not just in my particular head; other people here have linked Urban Dictionary definitions showing that other people make this association as well.

There's apparently a pronunciation aspect, too, wherein the second syllable is emphasised in such a way as to make the oppressive/othering aspect more obvious.

I always thought it was DEH-nih-GRATE. Have I been pronouncing it wrong all this time? Do people say duh-NIG-rate or something?
posted by Jpfed at 11:22 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a bit stunning to see a complete 180 happen in just a few years.

There are some key differences but yeah, that's a fair point. The community has grown considerably and it's moderated now—every thread, 'round the clock. That has created a different atmosphere where some threads would never happen.
posted by cribcage at 11:23 PM on March 8, 2013


No, nothing's actually changed since the stuff Blazecock is talking about, methinks.
posted by koeselitz at 11:51 PM on March 8, 2013


Er - to be more clear: I don't think we're talking about an atmosphere change here, although I do believe the community has changed in many ways. It seems a lot more useful to see this for what it is: just one person noticing how a word makes certain people feel, and suggesting we maybe think about what that means. It doesn't sound like there are any moderation changes involved in this case, and I don't think anyone is suggesting any new norms be put into place. And that's a good thing; this really isn't about policing anything, it's about introducing a little more awareness of our audience.

(And naturally, as a guy who's been around Metafilter for some years, I totally want to believe that this kind of suggestion or request would've been heard out and taken note of even five or six years ago; but then, things often seem different from the way they really were in memory, and moreover the ancient past doesn't really matter. What matters now is how we approach what's in front of us, and all I kind of like the way this conversation has gone so far, anyway.)
posted by koeselitz at 12:04 AM on March 9, 2013


That actually lends credence to the game origin hypothesis - many games' chat and forums have a word filter that would probably block/obfuscate "ass" but not "butt".

Except that it totally does not have a game origin, since the surfers and skaters i went to highschool with in the early 80's used butthurt regularly. I don't use the word myself, but it existed before the internet. And FWIW, the connotation at the time was "being spanked" or "having their ass handed to them".
posted by oneirodynia at 12:13 AM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


"And that was it for me. I didn't really care that I could make a case for it. There are tons of other words I can use instead. Well, maybe a half-ton. There are situations where I can use it (generally verbally) and I'll use my judgment in those situations. But broadly, where people don't know who I am or my intentions? Nup. And certainly not with those who said it takes them to an uncomfortable place."

Yeah, that's the point where I kinda gotta say that if someone is offended by my use of denigrate, they're not reading what I wrote in good faith and they're expecting me to adhere to an ethical standard that I disagree with. I don't think that the standard that someone is offended by something is a good enough one to necessarily curtail a word or behavior. It can be part of the discussion, but there are enough ways to reduce that to absurdity — and I think nit-picking "denigrate" is one — that it's not enough to convince me that there's a harm there.

Honestly, by the point someone would be complaining about someone else's usage of "denigrate," it feels like the non sequitor response of someone who would rather critique punctuation than content.
posted by klangklangston at 12:51 AM on March 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


There was a discussion here (which I don’t even remember the context of) that many were upset that someone was saying something rapey because they used the phrase "going down". Many insisted, and I think honestly believed, that the only meaning of that phrase was "oral sex" and that the people saying otherwise were making it up. Which is obviously not true. But it was apparently the only meaning they had ever known.

If you are positive that "butthurt" refers to anal rape you might want to question the circles you hang out in.
posted by bongo_x at 1:56 AM on March 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


FWIW I've always understood it to be a dig at anyone that's been anally penetrated, consent or no. Bottoms are like women who get penetrated, and therefore contemptible….

That's always been my reading, too, and I'm glad for this thread in small part because I feel a little bit validated that I wasn't being crazypants thinking some people might be offended. More than that, though, I'm glad to read that there are many people who use the term believing it to mean something quite innocuous. So from now on when I see it here, I'll just choose to assume that the person was only thinking of kids falling on their bottom.

But I'll continue not to use it myself.
posted by solotoro at 2:09 AM on March 9, 2013

What I seriously discount, however, is the pseudo-sensitivity that categorically permits us to ask a tall person to leave a room just because someone in the room was traumatized by a tall person, for example. Even if the tall person wants to leave the room and feels very guilty and admits to probably being a worthless scum too, that's no way to recover, and it proves nothing.
Oh my god, get real. Seriously. Do you honestly not comprehend the difference between "hey this word maybe has some problems" and "your presence here is not ok because of who and what you are."

My eyeballs got friction burns from rolling in their sockets.
posted by kavasa at 4:23 AM on March 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


It sounds like you're saying "Not only do I want to keep using this word, I don't want anybody to think I'm an asshole for using it."

Have never used the word.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:13 AM on March 9, 2013


I still don't see how it casts aspersions to anal rape, except where it is claimed here in this thread.

Claimed? There are links provided. Feel free to test your own Google-fu on the matter, too.

Look, guys, there's no need to fly off the handle over someone making the polite request to reconsider the use of a word. Not end its use, not make it forbidden and taboo - reconsider. I don't get the defensiveness here over this.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:35 AM on March 9, 2013


"Butthurt" is a homonym. Like the words "bitch" or "dick" or "tit"; they all have several meanings. Context is important.

Someone said the pushback surprised them. IMHO it's because some people are tired of being told what they can and can't say because someone's feelings will be hurt. Honestly, I know this isn't popular to say here, but in a sense I am also tired of it, I'm tired of snowflakes and worrying about everyone's feelings (I'm a cranky bitch, what can I say?) As an overweight kid, I grew up hearing A LOT of words that hurt me, but mom basically said, "Hey that's life, toughen up and move on" and I did - my world wasn't this sterile place where the requests to not use certain words seems to be taking us. I developed coping skills for those times I was teased or made fun of. I toughened up and I survived. Yeah, there are scars. We all have scars.

"Back in the day" there were words we didn't say because they were crass or crude or inappropriate - it wasn't about hurting people's feelings - it was more about manners. Now there is this political correctness as we are told what words are and aren't acceptable anymore (and I think the "anymore" part is key here. If people are asked to not use a word they have never used, then people don't care as much. But if they grew up using a word, well it's something they have to change and people don't like change.) There is a whole generation of us who grew up using words like "gay" and "retard" in pretty much childlike harmless ways. We got older and were chastised and told, "No, those are bad words to use, people find them offensive, so don't say them anymore" and we said, "Geez, we were kids, we didn't mean it THAT way, but ok." And we changed our vocabularies. Yes, it is a good thing to know where a word came from and if it is indeed offensive. "Jip/Gyp" is a more recent example of this- had no idea until I read it here on MeFi that it was offensive and where it came from.

I also think there is pushback because the list of words is growing longer. And YES I know no one is saying that you can never use the word butthurt, they are saying to think before using it in the future (I get that, please don't reply with "but they're not saying that") but now its out there and now there is a social pressure to not use this or other words previously mentioned here on Metafilter - that is what happens in communities, but that does make some people uncomfortable. There are some people in this thread getting on pedestals looking down at those of us who use this word, but as seen here, a large majority of us NEVER thought it meant anal rape and have always used it in a very harmless way, but still they will be looked down upon for their ignorance, both of this thread and that it bothers some people.

There is a time to speak up and a time to just let it go. Butthurt is a homonym. I grew up with the spanking/crybaby meaning and the anal rape meaning never crossed my mind (and the kids I hear using it don't even know what anal rape is). If I use butthurt again, it will be in the spanking/stop acting like a baby (no disrespect to babies) context. I am now aware that it bothers a small subset of people, but won't ban the word from my vocabulary because the context I have always used it in is not the context they use it in (homonym!) - however I will always consider context. But I think it works both ways where if someone is offended, they need to realize that perhaps offense wasn't intended and give a person the benefit of the doubt because just as some have been educated on the darker meaning of the phrase in this thread, some have also been educated on the lighter meaning of the phrase. (oh geez, was that wrong to use light/dark like that? I'm not being sarcastic, but this is what these kinds of conversations do to people, well me anyway.)

So maybe this pushback is generational? My generation was "just toughen up and move on, get used to disappointment and mean people, develop a coping skill - that's life". Newer generations are about feelings and sharing and being sensitive and snowflakes. Maybe it's just a gap.

I don't know.
Get off my lawn.
posted by NoraCharles at 6:41 AM on March 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think it also helps not to ascribe feelings and motivations to people based on your personal hunches; e.g., that someone is on a pedestal looking down on you as being ignorant. I mean is it really that hard to just stick to what people say, rather than what we imagine they're thinking from behind their keyboards?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:01 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


My generation was "just toughen up and move on, get used to disappointment and mean people, develop a coping skill - that's life". Newer generations are about feelings and sharing and being sensitive and snowflakes. Maybe it's just a gap.

Also want to assure you that people of all ages have to accept disappointment, mean people, and develop coping skills. Every aging generation looks at the one previous as somehow coddled and sheltered.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:03 AM on March 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


people are tired of being told what they can and can't say because someone's feelings will be hurt.

I'm seeing a lot of comments talking past each other as people pursue completely separate and incompatible readings of the issues in this thread.

Some are framing Jpfed's request as NoraCharles does: a command to stop using a word. Others, including myself, see Jpfed's OP as a request to consider how the word is interpreted by some and whether, upon consideration, there might not be more appropriate terms to convey the idea one wants to convey.

Some characterize the reason to reconsider the word as one of offense or because people's feelings will be hurt. Others characterize the reason as one of community culture, discouraging the use of terms that contribute to values we do not want to support (such as the trivialization of sexual violence).

Some characterize those asking us to reconisider using the term as being "positive that 'butthurt' refers to anal rape." Those asking that the term be reconsidered describe contexts within which the term is used alongside other language that make clear its sexual violence connotations, and they acknowledge that in other contexts and for other purposes people don't intend to use the term with those connotations.
posted by audi alteram partem at 7:04 AM on March 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


audi alteram partem, what part of

...YES I know no one is saying that you can never use the word butthurt, they are saying to think before using it in the future (I get that, please don't reply with "but they're not saying that")...

convinces you that NoraCharles thinks someone is commanding her to stop using a word? Curious.

I'm seeing a lot of comments talking past each other

Indeed. You just typed one. Seriously.
posted by heyho at 7:34 AM on March 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


heyho: The part of the comment I quoted at the top: "people are tired of being told what they can and cannot say."

I agree that NoraCharles also said "I know no one is saying that you can never..." but that conflicts with the earlier way the issue was characterized: "being told," which I read as a command. I think the conflict comes from the contradictions that pervade this thread (and I'm not saying I'm exempt from such confusion--please see below).

There are other instances where people on this thread characterize the request as a command such as "entitled to demand" above. I'm trying to focus on the substance of the conversation here, and I do not intend to call out any one participant.

I'm not saying I or anyone else is exempt from talking past each other. I thought it might help a good faith effort at dialogue to spell out how I see the different and contradictory ways people are reading the issues in this thread.

If your read of the conversation is different, please let me know.
posted by audi alteram partem at 7:44 AM on March 9, 2013


I guess my question is whether people feel their freedom to speak means freedom to speak without criticism? Because that seems to be the crux of this. I mean, my goodness, a request was made that people consider not using a term, and it has morphed into a command by the end of this thread, not because anybody has actually commanded it, or because there will be a change in policy, or because it will be enforced by mods, but because people who use the word will now feel like an asshole for doing so.

You know something, people will see you as an asshole for using the word. I wonder if the "toughen up and move on" suggestion above applies to that as well?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:55 AM on March 9, 2013 [17 favorites]


There is a time to speak up and a time to just let it go.

There is no clock, or signpost to tell people when is ok and when not. I don't mean snark, but who decides, there are some who think no one should ever be standing up, and some who stand up very swiftly... neither should be arbiter of "when it is time to stand up or just let it go" for everyone... so were have discussions. I see these conversations as helpful, but that may be because I didn't see anyone looking down their nose, or not giving the benefit of the doubt (well, I mean, about the violence intent/content of the phrase, I did say it seems a really poor community discussion tactic to believe one has "spanked" another person within a discussion of words).
posted by infinite intimation at 7:56 AM on March 9, 2013


NoraCharles asked:
"So maybe this pushback is generational?"

I dunno. I'm about to be 42. I've lived a hard life and survived things that would have killed others (and almost killed me). I'm pretty damned strong and was raised "old school". Definitely still on the side of doing less harm and being better understood.

So...what generation are you coming from with that posit?
posted by batmonkey at 8:24 AM on March 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Look, guys, there's no need to fly off the handle over someone making the polite request to reconsider the use of a word. Not end its use, not make it forbidden and taboo - reconsider. I don't get the defensiveness here over this.

In your own comment you paint one side as being reasonable and the other as not. So as you're insisting that this is just a polite and reasonable request, you're defining the terms in stark light that only has one correct answer.

Supposedly this was supposed to be conversation, but as it rolls along, sides just became polarized.

You know something, people will see you as an asshole for using the word. I wonder if the "toughen up and move on" suggestion above applies to that as well?

People use the flimsiest of reasons to start name calling, so they're probably fine with being called a dismissive insult referring to the anal region on their use of the term "butthurt".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:54 AM on March 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


kavasa: So go ahead, use it. Whatever. Don't pretend like you get to be all surprised and hurt when I call you a loathsome turdgolem in response, though.

It's mightily disingenuous to say 'It was just a suggestion!' when the response is, 'If you use this word from now on, I get to insult you.' Not only does not everyone read MetaTalk, but it also undermines the oft-repeated idea that it's a simple request. If it were, it wouldn't have the condition of, 'do this, or I'll call you names' attached to it.

As someone who never associated 'butthurt' with anything more damaging than a spanking, I can now see that some people have a different interpretation and/or experience with the word. Though it was hardly in my lexicon, I will, because I don't want to be an arsehole, now endeavour not to use it on MetaFilter. But all the reiterations of 'It's not a command, just a suggestion' willfully ignores the way that the suggestions come with a distinct moral judgement, and accompanying implied (or, as above, not so implied) verbal judgement as well.

There's a parallel to be drawn to that other recent MetaTalk thread, where a member has complained about the use of eponysterical, finding it unfunny and offensive. Because no-one agreed with the callout, there has been mostly jokes posted, with a small handful of serious responses explaining how it's not an offensive thing to say, that the OP is misinterpreting something that is playful and benign. And yet when it comes to 'butthurt', anyone who decides to defend it on a level more than 'I never thought it had a more contentious meaning, but now that I know I won't use it again', gets aggressively dismissed and told how wrong they are.

And I won't even get started on 'denigrate'.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:23 AM on March 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


Now there is this political correctness as we are told what words are and aren't acceptable anymore (and I think the "anymore" part is key here.

It seems to me that one of the strongest objections in these threads is that people get angry because they want to use the language they choose without having a negative stigma attached to their word choice. But the truth is that the stigma was already there- it just wasn't overtly expressed.

So it comes down to not wanting to know that people think some word choices paint the user as a jerk. Personally, I like to know when my word choice makes me sound like a jerk so if I'm offensive I'm at least doing it on purpose.
posted by winna at 9:32 AM on March 9, 2013 [16 favorites]


" So go ahead, use it. Whatever. Don't pretend like you get to be all surprised and hurt when I call you a loathsome turdgolem in response, though."

Then don't be surprised when people call you a supercilious twit and tell you to fuck yourself.

All of which will likely be pretty far afield of whatever the original usage of "butthurt" was attached to.

This is an edge case, people differ, and judging someone else based on "butthurt" is fairly likely to get you dismissed as "butthurt." Much as users have to decide whether they care about being offensive, those offended have to realize that this isn't a big deal for everyone and that as the word pretty much corresponds to "making a trivial complaint," they may be disregarded, especially if their reaction is simply more insults. Going after someone who doesn't care if you're insulted by "butthurt" is a pretty easy way to ossify the attitude and receive more abuse.
posted by klangklangston at 9:58 AM on March 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


OK, so "denigrate" originally meant "to blacken". Still not seeing the problem, unless we now live in a semantic universe where all metaphorical usage of "light/dark" is considered to be somehow tainted with racial baggage. Maybe I'm just unenlightened.... consider it a black mark on my record.
posted by Crane Shot at 10:04 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


As someone who is an avid supporter of the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign (and with that fresh in my mind after their awareness-raising day on March 7th), living among many friends/acquaintances who couldn't give a toss if their favorite substitute word for "dumb" "lame" "ridiculous" "stupid" or whatever actively hurts my feelings and reminds me every time I hear it that most of society considers my wonderful brother - who happens to have an intellectual disability - to be less than a human being, and as someone who until reading this thread thought that "butthurt" just meant "spanked for being naughty or breaking the rules," I won't use the word. And I'm grateful to be informed that some people find it hurtful. Because I'd like to think that my own experience has opened my eyes to the fact that words do actually hurt people. Words contribute to a society's sense of what is and is not OK. Or funny. Or valuable.

People are welcome to use whatever words they want to. Having informed people that certain words cause me distress, I'm in turn welcome to think of people who continue to use those words as people who don't care enough about my feelings to alter their phrasing around me - which, yes, makes me like them less. I think that this is a similar situation. I'd rather avoid thoughtlessly causing people distress by using a word I don't care about. It's not about censorship or being politically correct - it's about having empathy.
posted by pammeke at 10:14 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


But all the reiterations of 'It's not a command, just a suggestion' willfully ignores the way that the suggestions come with a distinct moral judgement

I think the "just a suggestion" can be intended and/or received this way, but it's not the only way to interpret the "request/command" distinction and not what I mean when I make the distinction. Commands and requests are both directives but they are still distinct speech acts suited to different pragmatic contexts and will lead down different branches of a conversation's contingency tree.

A command is absolute: it demands that something must be done. The command is backed by the authority of the speaker to make the command happen. Requests "demand" only a reply to the request. Requests do not demand that the listener do the "something" that is the subject of the request only that they reply.

Of course one of the goals in the request to reconsider the use of the term is to decrease the use of the term, another goal is to make people more aware of the ways the term is read by some and another is to have the conversation we are having.

When requests are read as commands, however, speakers work at cross-purposes. On the one hand, if asked, "please reconsider how the term is read by some," "no" is a perfectly find response. It satisfies the demand of the request. To my mind, both sides here of "don't use the term"/"the term's OK to use" are "reasonable" in the sense that reasons can be used to support either claim. Ideally there will be a continued discussion as to the why the reply is yes or no that converges on a common line of reasoning. E.g. 'I think it is OK to use the term, because the problematic connotations aren't widespread enough to warrant changing.' Here the argument would be over whether the connotations are widespread or what level of problematic connotation warrants a change.

On the other hand, if the reply to the same request is to incorrectly designate it as a different speech act, e.g. "that's a command," then we get the kind of divergent discussion we see in this thread.
posted by audi alteram partem at 10:15 AM on March 9, 2013


Look, guys, there's no need to fly off the handle over someone making the polite request to reconsider the use of a word. Not end its use, not make it forbidden and taboo - reconsider. I don't get the defensiveness here over this.

Oh, okay. I'm not flying off the Handle; I don't make it part of my Vocabulary so it's not a Real Issue for you to Worry yourself over. I just don't get how its use is now being Reinvented as a threat of Anal Rape when the context of its use on Metafilter where I have Seen It has almost always defined it as Something Else Entirely, no matter what some other site may or may not say. I'm also just Surprised at how a few people can now make that claim of being Offended and everyone else is expected to Roll Over in Deference. When a few years back I remarked about some language I thought was offensive, a large group of Regulars on this site got together to go through my photos on Flickr to bully me here on this site. Not Pleasant, but I Survived. I'm not Defensive over the use of Butthurt: I don't use it so I Don't Care what different people argue over what They think it Means, when the Context has always been Clear.. It's just Interesting to see how the dynamic has shifted so Completely in the Opposite Direction about what language is Acceptable and Not Acceptable.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:24 AM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I learned about the perception and impact of "denigrate", I didn't go into a lengthy justification of why I should still get to use it or how common it is or anything else. I just started working on not using it anymore.

You got to be fucking kidding me.
posted by spaltavian at 10:26 AM on March 9, 2013


Nope. Not abstinent kidding, either.

Did you read what Bunny Ultramod and koeselitz assembled after looking at the etymology?
posted by batmonkey at 10:32 AM on March 9, 2013


I mean, my goodness, a request was made that people consider not using a term, and it has morphed into a command by the end of this thread.

I think there is a linguistic term for a command that is phrased as a request. Cursoury googling hasn't found anything, but I vaguely recall reading about. Anyway, what I'm talking about is when your boss tells you "Have the TPS reports ready at 3pm, please" or at dinner if someone asks you to "Please pass the salt." If both cases, neither statement is a request despite the fact that it is phrased as one. Please is being used as a politeness marker not a request marker.

Please reconsider the use of the term "butthurt". reads as an acutal request. "If that is not the meaning you intend to convey, please find an alternative phrasing." reads as command phrased as a request with "pleased" used to be polite.

jpfed probably meant both statements as requests, but the some of the commenters on both sides clearly read them as commands. Because if it was seen as an actual request to reconsider the use of word then when someone said "Ok, I've reconsidered using it, and decided to keep using it." the response would "Thanks for reconsidering it. I appreciate you complying with the request." Instead the response is "What? What kind of asshole would keep using a word when you know it hurts some people. Clearly you are asshole. (Since the mods won't force you to stop), you can keep using it if you want, but don't forget you're an asshole. Asshole."
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:34 AM on March 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


Aww, man, BP, I thought with the kinda random caps in there that they'd all spell out a secret message and I'm a little disappointed that they didn't.
posted by klangklangston at 10:41 AM on March 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


So go ahead, use it. Whatever. Don't pretend like you get to be all surprised and hurt when I call you a loathsome turdgolem in response, though.

It seems to me that one of the strongest objections in these threads is that people get angry because they want to use the language they choose without having a negative stigma attached to their word choice.

You know something, people will see you as an asshole for using the word.


And one other thing, I see responses like the above as concern trolling and/or attempts at emotional blackmail. I view people who do both as assholes. Just thought you'd want to know so you can reconsider the words you use.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:45 AM on March 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I have edited my profile to reflect this Brave New Speech Code.
posted by jason's_planet at 10:57 AM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have edited my profile to reflect this Brave New Speech Code.

That's good Billy, and how's your homework coming?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:12 AM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have edited my profile to reflect this Brave New Speech Code.

Nice. The best Satire fights Ridiculous with More Ridiculous.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:54 AM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I asked one of the people who'd brought this interpretation of it to my attention and they pointed me here. And they said, "It basically means to literally make something or someone into a n-word".

Good grief. It does not mean that. Sometimes the latin word for black, just means "black" or "dark", as in "darkness" or the "absence of light". If someone finds an actual example of someone using the word denigrate to mean "make into a negro" then that might be evidence that the intent of the phrase was much more hurtful and sordid. However, internet retro-etymology should not just be about "this word has the same root as an extremely offensive word, therefore it was meant in as offensive a way". What are we to do about the country of Niger, and the Nigerians, in that case? Melas is Greek for "black", yet "melancholy" and "melanin" are clearly not offensive and have never been used offensively, and it would be silly to go back and try and attribute racist thought because they come from a root word which means "black", without any evidence of actual usage. That's just a complete lack of understanding of how language works: intent matters as much, or more, than etymology. It's why when people feel that the same gamers that use gay as an offensive epithet are using butthurt as explicitly offensive, they are likely correct to believe so, no matter where the word originally came from. I mean, that's pretty much what we're arguing- that the intent of certain people in using the term butthurt is to be extremely offensive, and so we should consider how we use it here. Butt and hurt are not offensive by themselves.

Here's an example of considering intent: We haven't stripped the word boy from the lexicon even though its use as a word to put down black men is long and cruel and recent; and directly attributed to racism and control. It's still regularly used in an offensively racist way today, yet no one gets offended by its use in daily conversation. I think we can consider denigrate in the same light, considering there's been no example of widespread usage in a racist way that anyone knows of or has unearthed.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:04 PM on March 9, 2013 [14 favorites]


And one other thing, I see responses like the above as concern trolling and/or attempts at emotional blackmail.

Well, I suppose I wonder what you want. I mean, whether or not "butthurt" refers to rape, it is consistently used to dismiss and mock another viewpoint. And yet when people ask that this phrase be reconsidered, they are told that this is censorship. And when people say, no, you're free to say whatever you want, but consider that people might think less of you for it, they are told that this is emotional blackmail.

It really seems like what is being requested here is speech without consequences. Can people not ask others to be considerate with their language? Can people not form an opinion when that request is ignored?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:51 PM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ah, but you still moderate the usage of "boy", so that it is not needlessly applied (even in an attempt at humour) to someone who may think that one is evoking the cruel legacy. At least if you have any sense.

I live in Texas and I'm from here. This is my third major city in the state. And I can confirm that even in the most liberal cities here, even good ol' Austin, you can find regular verbal slings and arrows at non-"white" citizens. Some say it has become worse and more blatant since Obama became President. Talking about words and how they are used against people is one of the few ways we can work together to limit the negative load of this reality.

My friends know me. They know parts of my history or at least trust my intentions. But there are so many others out there who don't have that connection with me. And because I want to be able to have clear, easy communication with those people, too, I'm making the personal choice to temper my use of a particular word.

It's not my fault or their fault that some jerks made us have to think about this stuff. It's a small thing to give consideration on this level. Smaller still when it's something more obvious, like "butt hurt/butthurt", even if only going with a merely snide, not wholly sneering definition. Just a choice on my part. No big deal. There's lots more in the world I can draw lines in the sand about and get all worked up over, rightfully or pettily. Just a choice.
posted by batmonkey at 12:59 PM on March 9, 2013


it is consistently used to dismiss and mock another viewpoint

Wait, there's something wrong with that now? Dismissing and mocking viewpoints is somehow ethically wrong in your book, deserving of opprobrium? Jesus Christ. This is almost its own reductio ad absurdum already, but just to be clear: this argument would seem to preclude everyone's using words like "whiny" or "stupid" just as well, because they, too, are often used to denigrate points of view — in fact it might easily extend as far as precluding the use of the word "wrong."

Viewpoints aren't people. They're not protected from dismissive mockery by any reasonable discursive ethics. In fact, people who aren't present — politicians, public figures, etc. — shouldn't really be so protected either. Or do you really think MeFi discussions shouldn't be allowed to dismiss or to mock, for example, Fred Phelps?

The attempt at ethics behind this seems to me like some insane parody of liberal tolerance where not just other people's private lives but their public arguments are sheltered from all dispute, because otherwise, oh no, someone's feelings might get hurt. Being nice to other people is all to the good, and particularly important as a pragmatic matter when we're all sharing a web community here — but an injunction to be nice to other viewpoints, even when they're wrong, is a ridiculous proposition, liable only to produce passive-aggressive cavilling forms of disagreement rather than honest ones.

I really think you, and the several other people in this thread who can seemingly only imagine "butthurt" as a way for one MeFite to characterize another MeFite, need to think a good deal harder about this. Potentially insulting adjectives are not always personal insults, because they can be used to describe other nouns as well as the person you're talking to. Adjectives are handy that way.
posted by RogerB at 1:19 PM on March 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


It really seems like what is being requested here is speech without consequences. Can people not ask others to be considerate with their language?

I agree that we should be mindful of our choice of words, and consider the audience we're talking to. I use "fuck" and "shit" freely in everyday conversation, confident in the knowledge that nobody in my circle of friends will be offended. But I probably wouldn't talk that way in a job interview, and I would have no problem dialing back the "f"-bombs if talking to people whose sensibilities don't mesh with mine... it's really just common courtesy.

I think the problem arises when we start getting our shorts in a knot over words that we think might conceivably offend somebody somewhere. I'm pretty sure you could run down the street screaming "DENIGRATE!" at the top of your lungs, and nobody would consider it a racial incident. "Slovenly" is a perfectly good word whose etymology I was unaware of before reading this thread, and will continue to use because nobody I've talked to has ever taken it the wrong way. But language changes and connotations change, so if 20 years from now we've decided that "slovenly" is offensive, then I won't be using it. But if there are, let's say, 25 people in the world who find it offensive, should we expect an entire language to change for their benefit, or just accept that they will be living in a state of perpetual offendedness?
posted by Crane Shot at 1:22 PM on March 9, 2013


I think the problem arises when we start characterizing other people's responses, on either side, in terms like "getting our shorts in a knot."

We should all probably have a sense of humor about the fact that in a conversation about whether a word might be inadvertently offensive, so many people have chosen to phrase their opinions in ways that almost seem intentionally offensive.
posted by cribcage at 1:28 PM on March 9, 2013


when people feel that the same gamers that use gay as an offensive epithet are using butthurt as explicitly offensive, they are likely correct to believe so

Yup, in addition to the Urban Dictionary citations above, the context for this includes stuff like ...: Google search of Blizzard forums; WoW PvP video 1 / WoW PvP video 2; and parallel phrases like this.

I've seen a number of folks in this thread suggest that the people bothered by this word are "reasoning" that it could have an offensive etymology or that they're "reinventing" the meaning. And that's simply not the case. Unfortunately, a bunch of other folks, who may or may not be well-represented on MeFi, actually do use the word this way. This is just a fact.

Other terms that have been brought up here are not on point, because it's either unclear they've ever been used hurtfully (denigrate, PITA, etc.) or else generally clear from context whether they're being used that way or not (boy).

I don't really have a stake in what other folks do with this information. I only find it slightly jarring to read the term in a context, like MeFi, where there's understandably a wide variation in terms of politeness and I have to guess what's meant. But doubting the social reality that this word is often used with ugly intent is just crappy.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:29 PM on March 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's definitely an important part in all this. People were already going "Wait, did foo just make a rape joke? Ugh, fine, whatever".

The only difference is that now it's more broadly known that that's what a reasonably large subset of people think when foo says "Stop being so butthurt about it. It was just a joke".

There's definitely other words that fit into this category. "Indian giver" is a big one. "Irish twins" probably fits. "Gyp/jyp/jewed" I've seen the same reaction from. "That's gay/retarded" was definitely a big one.

Some people say that they're innocent and have no offensive connotation. Other people disagree. People don't like being told that something they thought was inoffensive has extra connotations to people.

But hey, you can't choose what connotations people attach to terms. And if enough people have those connotations in mind, then it's probably something you should take into account.

So, I mean, go on. Say it. You want to say it, say it. You want it. So do it. But don't tell people how they should react to it.
posted by CrystalDave at 1:31 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dismissing and mocking viewpoints is somehow ethically wrong in your book, deserving of opprobrium?

Well, it makes for bad conversation. But, if you're open to being able to dismiss and mock a viewpoint, you probably ought not be surprised if people think you're a bit of a jerk.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:35 PM on March 9, 2013


We have all learned that some people have passionate feelings about the word "butthurt", whereas other people don't see what the big deal is.

Some of us care that others dislike the term being used, and some of us feel it's the others' problem that they can't handle a word like "butthurt" being flung about. Caring either way doesn't make anybody a bad person. Not caring means you're being slightly less sensitive to others, but sometimes sensitive isn't what you're looking to be. I don't think it's especially difficult to be a little sensitive, but obvs some people have a real fondness for the word, and if they're willing to come off as a little bit dickish to other users, I guess that's ultimately their prerogative. Weirdos.

Dismissing and mocking viewpoints can be incredibly fun, and while I respect Bunny Ultramod a hell of a lot, I vote that we continue to allow for a little viciousness in conversations for the sake of keeping this place entertaining. I hope that those of you who disagree with me on this will be rude and nasty in your disagreement. Bring it, y'all.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:38 PM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay. I slept on this and asked myself the question I'm sure a lot of you asked, which is "What dog do I have in this fight?" It turns out I do have a dog. I think it's a pretty big dog, and I'll show you, but it may take me a little while to get around to it.

I generally find the front page of Metafilter fairly good to read, and the comments generally kind of unbearable. The exception is once every 8 or 12 threads there's a conversation that's good-spirited or fun or even interesting, and unfortunately that's enough to keep me checking in. The reason is pretty well articulated here - reading knee-jerk reactions to posted content, over and over and over again, just gets soul-killing.

In fact, on days when my soul hasn't felt sufficiently killed, I play a little hate-reading game where I pick out a post that's gotten more comments than it seems like it should have, read the main links of the post, and try to guess what little semi-relevant bit the commenters are calling unclean. It isn't always like that of course, and sometimes the commenters are even set off for good reason, but I'm right often enough that it gets pretty obscene when I think about it: why do I know the tics of this stupid internet forum? What good does this knowledge do me? Why don't I know something better instead?

I'm pretty sure a lot of people on the more pro-self-censoring side of this argument have felt similarly.

My dog here is that I feel that this - the picking out of a litany of verboten words - feeds into that - the loathsome jerking of knees at trigger words, making conversations into repetitive etiquette fights (ok and good up to a point!) more than it helps. Or at least, if that point is not here with the word "butthurt", there is a point where that is possible. And indulging people who find offense at things just attracts people who… like to find offense at things. Instead of being interesting or otherwise worthwhile. And it'll cause more jerking knees at trigger words.

I'm not saying that this sort of sensitive censoring is nearly the main cause of all the tiresome knee-jerking that goes on in Metafilter. The large majority of it is dumb petty shit and various undead tics against ten-year-old annoyances. But I really don't want to see that tendency get fed any more than it currently is, and developing a litany of forbidden words, especially words that are common elsewhere, is in time going to create a lot of dumb reflexive reactions to outside material, and reacting to outside material is kind of the whole point of Metafilter comments.

Anyway, whatever, do what you want.
posted by furiousthought at 1:41 PM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


all the tiresome knee-jerking that goes on in Metafilter.

Your knee seems to have jerked pretty hard and fast in this thread. Do you count yourself among the tiresome, or just the people who wish that others be thoughtful in their language choice?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:45 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


furiousthought: I feel the bitter arguments aren't the fault of people who say "hey I take issue with this thing" so much as they're the fault of the people who then say "WHAT HOW THE FUCK COULD YOU POSSIBLY DISLIKE SOMETHING I DIDN'T THINK TO DISLIKE FUCK YOUR MOTHER'S BROTHER'S UNCLE CROTHERS"
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:49 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am curious as to who you think said that, Rory. It's a hell of a paraphrase.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:49 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the problem arises when we start characterizing other people's responses, on either side, in terms like "getting our shorts in a knot."

We should all probably have a sense of humor about the fact that in a conversation about whether a word might be inadvertently offensive, so many people have chosen to phrase their opinions in ways that almost seem intentionally offensive.


Do you consider "shorts in a knot" inherently offensive, or the fact that I used it in a glib, dismissive fashion? In my mind, I was simply employing a colourful turn of phrase. I just don't think the idea that we should avoid using a word like "denigrate" is something that deserves any particular reverence. I respect the good intentions of the person putting it forth, but it's a silly idea.
posted by Crane Shot at 1:56 PM on March 9, 2013


My dog here is that I feel that this - the picking out of a litany of verboten words - feeds into that - the loathsome jerking of knees at trigger words, making conversations into repetitive etiquette fights (ok and good up to a point!) more than it helps.

I don't see how one comes to the conclusion that not being able to say "butthurt" coarsens and diminishes conversation more than the word itself.

When it comes to fighting the PC police (or whatever you want to call people who like picking fights over words (and yes, they do exist, I admit)), Butthurt Hill seems like a pretty worthless piece of real estate to plant one's flag on.
posted by Etrigan at 2:05 PM on March 9, 2013


I hope that those of you who disagree with me on this will be rude and nasty in your disagreement.

It's Thomas Kinkade loving people like you that ruin everything.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:10 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's because He paints with souls.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 2:27 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


And one other thing, I see responses like the above as concern trolling and/or attempts at emotional blackmail. I view people who do both as assholes. Just thought you'd want to know so you can reconsider the words you use.

As I said in my comment, I like to know when people think I'm an asshole for my word choices so I can make the decision whether or not I want to seem to be an asshole.

So if I'm an emotional blackmailer for pointing out that if people think the use of a phrase makes the user of said term an asshole that opinion exists whether or not they tell the person, I'll just add that to the long list of other reasons people think I'm an asshole and continue my brave struggle to keep my tears from shorting out my laptop.
posted by winna at 2:28 PM on March 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, I suppose I wonder what you want.

FYI, that was mostly tongue in cheek. I don't think you, Bunny Ultramod, are trying to concern troll or emotional blackmail, but that was my emotional response. Take the knowledge and do with it what you want. Also, from now on "you" is used in the general sense.

As to your question, mostly I just to talk about it. I see these discussions as happening like this:

OP: Please reconsider using word x. It find it offensive because of alpha, beta, and gamma.

C1: Stop being so damn sensitive.
C2: Wow, I did not know that. I will stop using it.
C3: I am so tired of people telling me what words I can use.
C4: Wow, I did not know, but I'm still going to keep using it, because of x, y, z.
C5: Yes, do reconsider, I hate that word.


C1 is clearly a jerk and gets off told by commenters and mods.
C2 usually gets backpat and thanks.
C3 gets told "It's a request, nobody is actually censoring you/commanding you to do anything."
C4 is told "Keep using it if you want, but just so you know, you're an asshole if you keep using it/people will think you are an asshole."

I don't have any issue with responses to C1 and C2.

Responses to C3 and C4 are more problematic to me. There are times when commands are phrased as requests and requests to stop using words come of as politely phrased commands, with reconsider being using as polite synomym for stop and please thrown in there to be polite. Now, the OP and the other commenters may mean it as request and not a command, but if someone reads it as a command masked as a request, then telling them "Nope, you're wrong, it's a request." is not going to change their opinion, especially if they see it as command that was purposefully phrased as request. I'm not sure what would given the history of these conversations on metafilter.

My problem with the response to C4 is that people who say it are all "Don't hurt other people's feelings or you're an asshole." People try to act like there is some general ethical principle about not hurting people's feelings, which if you violate makes you an asshole, except that makes us all assholes because you can't get through life without hurting people's feelings or offending people. (I am going to do some things today and tomorrow that I know will hurt someone's feelings. It sucks, but in the end, I am okay with that because these things need to be done.)

"Stop using words if someone says it's offensive. If you don't you are an asshole" is next on the reason why I called you an asshole list, except that's not it, as you can see from what happened in the threads about eponysterical and french jokes. Nobody in those threads got called an asshole because they decided to keep using eponysterical and making jokes about the french.

So it seems to me the real thing is more like "I agree that this world is offensive and if you don't agree that is offensive and stop using or just stop using it, you are clearly an asshole." In this case, you are insulting people for not adhering to your own personal ethical standards. And ok, that's fine, you can do that, but stop acting like you're making a sermon on the mount. Your ethics are no more divinely inspired than mine are. Word usage is an area where different people draw different lines and you are not going to lose anything if you respect that. And if someone does not have the same ethics that you do, and you want them to, persuasion works better to get than insults.

I can also rephrase this as "You are risking social condemnation for violating my ethical standards." That is probably not what people intend, but I understand why people pushback, if that's how they see it. People don't like having their status threatened.

Also, this is supposed to be a community where we all work together and what not, but some people want to but the burden on solely on the people who use the word. I think there should also be some responsibility on people who get offended by it. If you see someone using butthurt, you can take a step back and think about the phrasing and the person, and how they are using it, before you decide that someone is an asshole. If you know that people use butthurt to mean crybaby, as you now do, and still say that you will categorically consider people who use butthurt to be assholes, that's not their fault. That's you kinda being a jerk.

(Seriously, though, I see all these "you're an asshole" comments as hyperbolic because no one is going to completely write someone off if they use butthurt in the crybaby sense, the way they would if they called someone a cunt or something.)

The tl;dr version of this comment is this: "they're not reading what I wrote in good faith and they're expecting me to adhere to an ethical standard that I disagree with." klang said this when talking about denigrate but I think it applies to butthurt as well and these discussions in general.

Lastly, I think if these posts were phrased like: "Can we talk about the word x. When people use x, it's hurtful to me because of a, q, and r. I see a lot of people using it on the site and I was wondering do the people who use it know about a, q, and r. People who use x, do you know about a, q, and r? If so, why do you use x? Are there alternatives to x that you could use instead of x, given a, q, and r? If not, does knowing about a, q, and r, make you less likely to use x here?" basically, attempting to engage people who use x in a discussion about the use of x, maybe there would be less pushback. But maybe not. I think there are too many feelings built up on both sides.
posted by nooneyouknow at 2:51 PM on March 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


as always, everyone is basically free to use whatever words they want, however they want, with the obvious way-beyond-the-pale exceptions that will almost invariably cause mod action

there are a few that I haaaaate, and butthurt is one of them for reasons I outlined above, and I'm going to continue to hate it

so by all means complain about the pc police and recursive etiquette debates or whatever, do what you gotta do

but once people have talked about how one or another thing sucks, you don't get to be all concerned and sad and blameless when the recursive etiquette debates happen, as if the respondents are the only ones at fault for the lever getting pulled on the toilet, as if the pc police are LOOSE CANNONS who need to TURN IN THEIR BADGES

ps

I also super hate "pc" and "pc police" and stuff, since the term is pretty explicitly used to differentiate "politically correct" things from actually correct things. "Well you know it's not politically correct to say [racist/sexist/whatever thing about some group] but if the shoe fits hardy har har" etc.

ugh.

Literally had a classmate in wannabe-cop class today go on a little mini-rant about how Somalians are "the worst immigrants" and (seriously) how they "don't respect authority," and I wanted to say "well dude, neither do I" but - well anyway.

I'm sure he's not a fan of political correctness either.
posted by kavasa at 2:57 PM on March 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


The funny part is that MeFites who have not read this still have plausible deniability. Those of us who have are now faced with a choice with full knowledge that there are some people who will be offended.

I know some of us like to think we are speaking truth to power, we are the matafilter Bill Hicks or something. Someone wants me to stop using a word I never used to begin with fuck that noise!

We moderate our speech all the time based on audience. If I said someone was butthurt at work outside of my immediate team on a conference call or something it would probably get ignored once or twice but if I kept doing it, then insisted it was my right, I would probably get a talking to. But this isn't work you say. That is why we are having this discussion at all. This isn't your house either other people's feelings do count.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:58 PM on March 9, 2013


But doubting the social reality that this word is often used with ugly intent is just crappy.

OK, I have no argument with that.

But I would also add that doubting the social reality that this word is often used without ugly intent is just crappy, yet I've heard a few people here infer that. Not many, but a few.

Anal rape has never been an association I made with the term, and likely never would have had not been mentioned here. My own understanding has always been that the hurt or injury was to the fleshy part of the posterior - to wit, the buttocks - in the form of a spanking, a slap, a swat or perhaps a fall.

The fact that a few people in this thread have said the term has unpleasant or painful associations for them is something I will respect. I don't think I've ever used the term anyway; If I have, it would likely have been in a third party context because it is my general rule of thumb to refrain from interacting with anyone here in a less than respectful way.

So just as I have learned something about how the word can be used hurtfully, I hope those who have taken offense have learned that the term is often used innocently. There will be many mefites who never read this thread and who may use the phrase. I don't think that use of the term is a definitive marker as to whether someone is a "loathsome turdgolem" or not given the evidence of widespread unawareness in this thread alone.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:00 PM on March 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


hah!

I'm actually super unlikely to ever call anyone that. The times when I get incensed in threads on the blue are pretty rare, but something about the invariable form of responses to threads of this type (combined with things like the time some dude tried to make the argument that "cocksucker" was totally ok and not at all a shitty slur) drives me nuts. Like really, the guy above with his hypothetical about tall people being asked to leave the room and wracked with liberal guilt and just please. Please.

...

And maybe there's a subconscious urge to show people just how nasty you can be without using words and phrases that trade in some part on the ways in which our society sucks.
posted by kavasa at 3:11 PM on March 9, 2013


> I agree that we should be mindful of our choice of words, and consider the audience we're talking to. I use "fuck" and "shit" freely
> in everyday conversation, confident in the knowledge that nobody in my circle of friends will be offended.

I'm going to avoid saying anything on metafilter that I wouldn't say at a cosplay 1870s tea party where everyone's sitting around in crinolines and frock coats like Victoria and Albert. No politics, no religion, certainly no sex. I'm almost there as it is, one more little push and I'll be the very model of a modern metafiiltrian.
posted by jfuller at 5:40 PM on March 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can we talk about the word x. When people use x, it's hurtful to me because of a, q, and r. I see a lot of people using it on the site and I was wondering do the people who use it know about a, q, and r. People who use x, do you know about a, q, and r? If so, why do you use x? Are there alternatives to x that you could use instead of x, given a, q, and r? If not, does knowing about a, q, and r, make you less likely to use x here?

That's a great way to phrase things!
posted by Jpfed at 5:56 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


So just as I have learned something about how the word can be used hurtfully, I hope those who have taken offense have learned that the term is often used innocently. There will be many mefites who never read this thread and who may use the phrase.

Yeah, I'm definitely in the camp of people who had only ever heard it in the more offensive context, and I was really surprised by how many people ascribed an innocent etymology to it. I still kind of have an instinctive wincing reaction to the word, but it's actually quite helpful for me to realize that it doesn't have that baggage to a fair number of people who use it. I think it's kind of like the cultural divide on "cunt" or "spaz", although those have a pretty clear geographic split that "butthurt" lacks. I'm American, so I grew up and live in a culture where "spaz" has about the same hurtful power as "poindexter", but I know that's not the case for everyone on Metafilter, and so I avoid it. I know that a lot of non-USian Mefites similarly moderate their usage of "cunt", and I really appreciate it, but I also know that if someone does use "cunt" casually, it may be innocent lack of knowledge of the significance that it has in some strains of English.
posted by kagredon at 6:36 PM on March 9, 2013


"Butthurt" is a homonym.

It is? How so? Maybe I'm not understanding what makes a word a homonym...
posted by nacho fries at 7:32 PM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's a great way to phrase things!

I found it disturbingly entitled. For example:

Can we talk about the word atheism. When people use atheism, it's hurtful to me because of my faith in Jesus. I see a lot of people using it on the site and I was wondering do the people who use it know about my faith in Jesus. People who use atheism, do you know about my faith in Jesus? If so, why do you use atheism? Are there alternatives to atheism that you could use instead of atheism, given my faith in Jesus? If not, does knowing about my faith in Jesus make you less likely to use atheism here?

It's apparent to me that some people have extrapolated social progress and tolerance to mean that we aren't supposed to offend anyone ever (rather than not stereotype or label or deny anyone rights). It's missing the point. It also explains why they seem to continually imply that principled opposition to their requests are from actual offenders (because they don't seen to fathom any principles at stake).
posted by Brian B. at 7:59 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's only entitled if you assume that it's not a genuine question. Which can certainly be the case, but isn't always.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:06 PM on March 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oooh, I wanna play. Another example:

"Can we talk about the word cats. When people talk about how much they like cats, it's hurtful to me because of I can't stand cats. I see a lot of people talking about them on the site and I was wondering do the people who use it know about how much I don't like them. People who like cats, do you know how much I don't like them? If so, why do you talk about them? Are there alternatives to cats that you could talk about, given how much I don't like them? If not, does knowing about how much I don't like it make you less likely to talk about cats here?"

Yep, that's crazy too. I didn't suggest the phrasing as way to talk about anything that offends people. It's specifically in the context of words that people find offensive but don't rise to the level of outright slurs like cunt, kike, nigger, etc. The phrasing was just an example. The idea is to engage people who use the word you find offensive in a discussion about the word, instead of just asking them not to use it.

If people want to talk about other concepts or animals that they find offensive, they are on their own.

Also, what restless_nomad said.
posted by nooneyouknow at 8:29 PM on March 9, 2013


Are there alternatives to atheism that you could use instead of atheism, given my faith in Jesus? If not, does knowing about my faith in Jesus make you less likely to use atheism here?

Nope.

I'd guess you could come up with harder hypotheticals, but they're often what prolong and confuse discussions like this where the problem at hand is already fairly rich in examples and attestations of lived experience, not to mention such a simple solution that in no way limits anyone's ability to protest future issues.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:29 PM on March 9, 2013


It's only entitled if you assume that it's not a genuine question.

My example, of course, was using a template offered a few posts earlier, but the persecution-entitlement scenario has been discussed on Metafilter before in various forms.
posted by Brian B. at 8:37 PM on March 9, 2013


Maybe I'm not understanding what makes a word a homonym...

It's not you.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:57 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just wanted to say thanks to the OP and to many of the commenters on this thread. It's useful to me to hear how people have understood the word "butthurt" differently. I have used the term once or twice myself, and I won't anymore, because I certainly don't want to be heard as making some kind of rape joke. I will also not rush to judgment about others' use of it, which could be based in a toddler-buttplops-down interpretation, but instead educate them with what I've learned.

As for the people who get all bent out of shape when they find out a term offends others, my honest reaction is to say grow up.

(You know, sometimes it does happen that a person will say they are offended or triggered by something, and I consider their statement problematic because they seem to be deploying it to marginalize someone. I don't start yelling about free speech and how people are oversensitive. I try to engage in a careful and respectful conversation about the power dynamics involved. But that's hardly an issue in this case.)
posted by DrMew at 9:03 PM on March 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh great. The comedy Mefi offence brigade has unleashed another butthurt whiner OMG HE SAID BUTTHURT KILL THE WITCH.

Get a sense of proportion. Your interminable preciousness is weak and offensive. Shape the fuck up.
posted by Decani at 9:08 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do you think it is at all possible that what you just demonstrated was an overreaction?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:10 PM on March 9, 2013


Do you think it is at all possible that what you just demonstrated was an overreaction?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:10 AM


Are you talking to me?
posted by Decani at 9:12 PM on March 9, 2013


Yes.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:14 PM on March 9, 2013


Well why the fuck didn't you say so, you presumptuous ass? But yes, it is definitely possible that my comment was an overreaction. Do you have any other questions?
posted by Decani at 9:15 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, Decani, you need to knock it the fuck off. If you are not trolling, you need to work harder to make it appear as though you are not trolling, because right now you appear to be attempting some sort of performance art and that does not fly here.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:19 PM on March 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Don't make me bring my gas powered stick up in here. It never runs out of gas!
posted by P.o.B. at 9:26 PM on March 9, 2013


Have you considered going solar?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:29 PM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nah,, I get pretty good mpg.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:55 PM on March 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


We broke Decani.
posted by batmonkey at 8:06 AM on March 10, 2013


Nah, he was like that when he got here, with that chip and all.
posted by rtha at 8:26 AM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


We broke Decani.

Thank god, the carpet is finally safe.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:40 AM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nah, he was like that when he got here, with that chip and all.

Speaking of etymologies, last week I got curious about the origins of "a chip on [his] shoulder" last week, and it's pretty interesting.
posted by kagredon at 8:41 AM on March 10, 2013


We broke Decani.

Thank god, the carpet is finally safe.


That acidic, though? Now the tile's not safe.
posted by CrystalDave at 11:18 AM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always thought it was a synonym for dyschezia?
posted by meehawl at 12:02 PM on March 10, 2013


I read about 75-80% of the comments in this thread before my brain started to turn to tapioca, but one thing I didn't see adressed, besides briefly in the mention of shitredditsays was the concept of it not being verboten in the sense that mods will delete your post or warn you, but that it will instantly derail the thread. Or at least derail it for a second.

The idea being that the hypothetical real endgame here could be that every time the word is used in a random thread, the next reply(or at least, within the next few replies) is someone just quoting the word and going "ugh", "can you not say that?" Or "seriously?" Instead of carrying on with the discussion.

Basically, that it will be de facto banned as a community standard since it'll be swatted away like a cat pawing at crumbs on a plate every time someone mentions it. Which is honestly, annoying as hell to read constantly.

I generally love the moderation and community here, but at times I wish there actually was a "please don't say stuff like this or things that imply the the same meaning cleverly trying to get around it" list, because saying its not officially banned but then letting people constantly shame others for saying it is somewhat tiresome. And this definitely happens with other things.

And note, this is coming from someone who switched camps on this a few months ago and was also reaffirmed in that by this thread. I think it's a shitty phrase to use both for the rapey connotations, and the fact that its often just "I don't want to engage you at all" framed in a cheap plastic case of superiority.

I would at least like to believe, assuming good faith, that this is the type of thing at least a few people in here are concerned with. Can never be sure though, but it's at least what immediately popped in to my head.

And after writing that, I'm a bit conflicted as well. Because the community going "hey, lets not do that ok?" Or "think about that one for a second" can also be what makes the place great, but when it's about the same things over and over it can be tiring.
posted by emptythought at 8:57 PM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Simplified English is the answer. Everything you need to say can be said with a vocabulary of 150 words.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:25 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Simplified English is the answer. Everything you need to say can be said with a vocabulary of 150 words.

Basically, you should translate whatever you're going to say into Esperanto, then translate it back out as literally as possible, and post that.
posted by Amanojaku at 1:07 PM on March 11, 2013


Done:

Butt hurt to batas vundita to strikes wounded
posted by found missing at 1:46 PM on March 11, 2013


We broke Decani.

He sounds a bit neckhurt about all this.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:48 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


emptythought: I'm pretty sure it was the two comments I made asking people to please reconsider using the term in future that prompted this MeTa. One of those was in the gray, where it belongs, and one was on the blue, where it doesn't.

I think my emotional reaction overwhelmed my MeFi etiquette; I shouldn't be engaging people on that on the Blue. So I guess what I'm saying is, I hear your concern, and going forward I'll ignore it or MeMail the person instead. I never even really wanted this MeTa thread to exist, but it's not just my issue obviously and this thread hasn't been 100% crap, and IRFH sent me a nice message, so it wasn't a bust.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:26 AM on March 12, 2013


I've always heard the term "butthurt" used by feminists and other "PC" people, particularly to describe whining by regressive types. Like "Isn't it hilarious how racists are still all butthurt they can't say 'niggardly' anymore"

Calling MRA's butthurt is an example of that. Here's an example of it's use on jezebel, Here's another on feministing
And then…I looked at the comments below the article (why? why? but that’s another story). And I found the usual gems of whinging butthurt, right down to the guy who suggested the only people who would have trouble with the situation are ugly female PC Police officers. Why do they think that actually is a thing?
That's from an article, and there are tons more uses in the comments on that site.

Here's Amanda Marcotte using the term to describe people upset at the term "mansplaining". Do you think she used it because she thought she metaphorically anally raped mansplainers by using the term? Obviously not.

I'm kind of surprised the thread has gone on so long and no one has pointed this out.

Up until now I've always only thought "butthurt" meant that a person is complaining about something that isn't a real problem. It's like saying "aww, you poor baby" - and often used to describe the feelings of a person with privilege feels at the thought of losing that privilege, or otherwise being a baby.

___
It seems to me like a pretty normal and healthy part of a large, heterogeneous group dynamic, personally. It's worth keeping in mind that these threads are always just prompts along the lines of "this bothers me" and then group conversation about that
I find it somewhat annoying. Each additional restriction means an extra thing you have to think about when composing a comment, which makes writing comments a pain in the ass. Which I suppose makes me butthurt about it. Irony Alert.
We don't have a process, formal or informal, for nominating words for actual blacklists on the site. None of the mods are interested in that sort of thing, and we're the only ones who could actually enforce it if it were to exist.
Then what's this? That's the only reason I'm even aware of this thread. Were people replicating this discussion in there, or were they just making 'butthurt' jokes?

If people are just saying "well, you can still say it but you can't get... upset... if people call you insensitive" that's one thing, but if we are going to start deleting comments or whatever then that's a bit much.
The way I've heard it used, and taken it to mean is a much, much more dismissive and ugly phrase, that the person complaining about the problem is less than a 'real man' and, worse, is whining not unlike a gay man.
It didn't occur to you that it might simply have meant that a person wasn't acting like an adult because they were acting like a baby!?
__

Anyway, it's one thing to say well, we should have a dialog about this - but shouldn't it be two ways street? I had no idea people took it to mean anal rape, but shouldn't people who thought that be willing to consider the fact that when people use the word that's not what they mean and therefore, it's not as offensive a term as they actually thought?

A lot of the comments here are people saying that people using the term should "consider" how that term affects people. But why should the onus only be on one side of the issue? Shouldn't people also "consider" what the person using the term actually means when they say it?

I think reasonable people can decide that some words and some meanings are offensive enough to stop using - like "gay" to mean "stupid" or "rape" to mean "defeat", but that other words don't rise to that level, and that at a certain point it becomes ridiculous (and seriously 'denigrate'!? Seriously!?)
heyho: The part of the comment I quoted at the top: "people are tired of being told what they can and cannot say."

I agree that NoraCharles also said "I know no one is saying that you can never..." but that conflicts with the earlier way the issue was characterized: "being told," which I read as a command. I think the conflict comes from the contradictions that pervade this thread (and I'm not saying I'm exempt from such confusion--please see below).
Is there really that big of a difference between saying "You can't say X" and "Go ahead and say X but everyone agrees you are 'an asshole' if you do"?
posted by delmoi at 3:59 AM on March 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


I think it is fallacious to assume because someone is a feminist they aren't causally (or even not so casually) homophobic. Or racist for that matter.
posted by Mitheral at 6:25 AM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think it is fallacious to assume because someone is a feminist they aren't causally (or even not so casually) homophobic. Or racist for that matter.
I thought butthurt was supposed to be a problem because it was supposed to be a rape reference. Now it's anti-gay? That makes even less sense.

Amanda Marcotte might be homophobic or racist*, but she is definitely anti-rape.
(*Pro-top: She's not)

I was just pointing out that the term is common among people who are very anti-rape, anti-rape-culture. These people are not claiming to be metaphorically raping sexists and misogynists
posted by delmoi at 6:39 AM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did you miss the whole discussion here about how a lot of people had no idea there were a lot of other people who associate the word with anal rape?
posted by rtha at 6:47 AM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


A lot of the comments here are people saying that people using the term should "consider" how that term affects people. But why should the onus only be on one side of the issue? Shouldn't people also "consider" what the person using the term actually means when they say it?

Sure. Which is what most of this thread has been about. How to try to gracefully meet in the middle since the word isn't being outlawed in any substantive way and people will have to make their peace with that fact.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:50 AM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then what's this?

A gentle reminder that explicitly poking a stick in the eye of an ongoing contentious discussion on Metatalk is kind of poor behavior. We haven't put "butthurt" on a blacklist just because we suggest folks not bring it up in a OH SPEAKING OF BUTT AND HURTING WINK WINK WINK way in the most obvious and obnoxious tangential context possible right on the tail end of a complicated discussion about it on the grey; that's more of a "oh jeez, come on" list.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:22 AM on March 12, 2013


delmoi: " I'm kind of surprised the thread has gone on so long and no one has pointed this out. "

Google "Butthurt Liberals". Use of the word has never been restricted to a particular political affiliation.
posted by zarq at 8:05 AM on March 12, 2013


I find it somewhat annoying. Each additional restriction means an extra thing you have to think about when composing a comment, which makes writing comments a pain in the ass. Which I suppose makes me butthurt about it. Irony Alert.

See, I don't think you actually have a list of things that you think through before commenting and that this is a totally hypothetical concern.
posted by invitapriore at 8:41 AM on March 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


A literal list of stuff? Probably not, but if you have enough deletions you eventually start to edit and self-regulate your comments to try and avoid having it happen again.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:00 AM on March 12, 2013


Increased self-editing and self-regulating strikes me as the best of all possible outcomes of these kinds of discussions.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:02 AM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, honestly I think that just about zero of the problems that happen on Metafilter happen as a result of people who actually stop and think a little bit about what they're typing before they hit "Post Comment". If it's a pain in the ass to be thoughtful about the framing and content of your words, that's a bummer but Metafilter may not be the best of all possible worlds for you to begin with.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:04 AM on March 12, 2013


It just becomes extra frustrating when you are still facing deletions when you are attempting that self-regulation, which is likely why delmoi might fear additional things to look out for. It can feel futile at times when you can't predict what might be a problem.

Snark about butthurt in a post about a guy tweeting about a dildo getting stuck up his ass just seems like harmless blowing off steam to me so if I had made such a comment I would not have expected that to be something I had to watch out for in my framing.

Learning that deletions aren't a big deal and you should not get frustrated about the occasional deleted comment is a more useful piece of knowledge than figuring out entirely a list of what might be problematic.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:17 AM on March 12, 2013


It just becomes extra frustrating when you are still facing deletions when you are attempting that self-regulation, which is likely why delmoi might fear additional things to look out for. It can feel futile at times when you can't predict what might be a problem.

This is why I don't have opinions.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:29 AM on March 12, 2013


emptythought: I'm pretty sure it was the two comments I made asking people to please reconsider using the term in future that prompted this MeTa. One of those was in the gray, where it belongs, and one was on the blue, where it doesn't.

In a sense. The term has always bothered me, but I'd always been resigned about it. Then I saw you pushing back and I thought, "hey, maybe this is something changeable.".
posted by Jpfed at 10:31 AM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


And I appreciate it. Thank you.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:11 AM on March 13, 2013


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