Not referring to a kitteh October 26, 2010 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Now that we've had a discussion about "douchebag," does anyone else flinch at this title, too?
posted by bearwife to MetaFilter-Related at 2:04 PM (563 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Dear god.
posted by frecklefaerie at 2:05 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


I flinched more at "kitteh", to be honest.
posted by modernnomad at 2:06 PM on October 26, 2010 [21 favorites]


Didn't like it, didn't seem worth making a big deal out of. Was really hoping that it was a quote from the article, but apparently it wasn't. It's not really in line with how we generally talk to each other here, but it's the user's first post and I felt like it might be a better idea to just let it go.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:06 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Eh, not my favorite but doesn't get this user that riled up.
posted by josher71 at 2:06 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm still trying to work out how using swear words is not supposed to be insulting.
posted by i_cola at 2:08 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I would like for people to stop using the term "butthurt".
posted by keli at 2:08 PM on October 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


I would like for people to stop using the term "butthurt".

May I ask why?
posted by sonika at 2:09 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Keith and the Girl"?
posted by boo_radley at 2:10 PM on October 26, 2010



May I ask why?


Because it refers to being anally raped.
posted by keli at 2:11 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can we just come up with a definitive list of offensive words that nobody finds offensive? I mean, we're all adults here.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 2:11 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


"I would like for people to stop using the term "butthurt"."

Nope. Sorry. Having been butthurt, it's exactly the right phrase for butthurt.
posted by klangklangston at 2:12 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Because it refers to being anally raped."

Except that it doesn't have to and doesn't really. For me, the butthurt was a complication of opioid pain killers. (TMI?)
posted by klangklangston at 2:13 PM on October 26, 2010 [13 favorites]


Um. Most people I know use it to refer to the sensation of having had your butt kicked. Or epic constipation.
posted by elizardbits at 2:13 PM on October 26, 2010


In the groups I've been in that used it on a constant basis, it's all about how someone is anally raped and then boohoos about it instead of changing their actions so they don't become the victim of anal rape again.

YMMV.
posted by keli at 2:16 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I always think of rape too. But goddamn it, I wouldn't complain about people using it.

This is turning into a parody.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:16 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I had a constipated cat once.
He'd scoot.
posted by Floydd at 2:17 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I flinched at the tags.
posted by hellojed at 2:17 PM on October 26, 2010


I once saw a dog pass a mitten that he had eaten. Talk about scooting!
posted by dirtdirt at 2:17 PM on October 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Didn't like it, didn't seem worth making a big deal out of.

Yeah, my feeling too. We talked about it briefly this morning and decided to let it go as bad taste.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:18 PM on October 26, 2010


Because it refers to being anally raped.

As someone who's given and received consensual spankings to/from adults, I can only say "not necessarily".
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:18 PM on October 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


Was that dog a lab? They are world-class at swallowing and shitting.
posted by Mister_A at 2:19 PM on October 26, 2010


The meaning "weak or cowardly person" has a separate etymology. Websters 1913 Revised Unabridged Dictionary lists this version of pussy as an alternate spelling of "pursy", an otherwise obsolete English word meaning "fat and short-breathed; fat, short, and thick; swelled with pampering ..." The interpretation is often misconstrued, as it contains multiple meanings which some consider derogatory. In fact, when pussy appears in the earlier 1828 edition of the dictionary, this definition is presented for the word, while the older pursy is simply offered as a "corrupt orthography". Pursy (pronounced with a short u, and with the r slurred or silent) was in turn derived from an Old French word variously spelled pourcif, poulsif, poussif, meaning "to push, thrust, or heave". In this sense, it is cognate with the modern French verb pousser, also meaning "to push". source

So, no. I didn't flinch.
posted by crunchland at 2:19 PM on October 26, 2010 [21 favorites]


This has been frustrating me more and more on the blue. How difficult is it not to use overtly sexist terms? It's not like we want for alternate vocabulary; I'm pretty sure the English language has, like, two or three hundred words in it at least.

In seriousness--every time it seems like the tiniest bit of progress is being made in helping people to understand that language has power, and yes, words do matter, we get a post with a title like that one. I'm a teacher; it's in my nature to want to explain, to illuminate, to help people take notice of things like this and learn to watch for them, but some days it's all I can do to even glance at the front page without crying in frustration.
posted by tzikeh at 2:19 PM on October 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


Because it refers to being anally raped.

No, it doesn't. It's about whining like a little kid who's just been spanked. What IS IT with people and the obsession with anal rape? Other things happen to butts besides penises!
posted by katillathehun at 2:19 PM on October 26, 2010 [44 favorites]


Because it refers to being anally raped.

No it doesn't.
posted by OmieWise at 2:20 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hi, let's try not to be dismissive of someone's personal experience.
posted by keli at 2:21 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


In the groups I've been in that used it on a constant basis, it's all about how someone is anally raped and then boohoos about it instead of changing their actions so they don't become the victim of anal rape again.

In the least confrontational and most sincere way possible I would like to suggest that you look into maybe making some different friends, dude.
posted by elizardbits at 2:22 PM on October 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


Or epic constipation

No good risking a semantic constipation as well.
I'd pu..wait, no, pass this one...
posted by Namlit at 2:23 PM on October 26, 2010


Hi, let's try not to be dismissive of someone's personal experience. --- When did this place get taken over by effing school marms?
posted by crunchland at 2:23 PM on October 26, 2010 [13 favorites]


The meaning of a word does not come from someone's personal experience.
posted by ssg at 2:23 PM on October 26, 2010 [18 favorites]


In the groups I've been in that used it on a constant basis, it's all about how someone is anally raped and then boohoos about it instead of changing their actions so they don't become the victim of anal rape again.

I'm getting the impression that you are hanging out with some seriously fucked-up people.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:24 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pussy refers to being anally raped? I'll never understand you British.
posted by found missing at 2:24 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


crunchland: Yes, and "negro" is French for black, but that's not what is implied when someone uses the word to refer to a black person. So can we stop wasting time talking about etymology and start talking about the actual subject at hand? It's infuriating and it's *not* ridiculous to talk about how the words we choose carry various meanings whether we want them to or not, and we should be aware of them.
posted by tzikeh at 2:25 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Please stop with the lazy profanity when you're trying to pull a silly title for your post out of your ass.

See what I did there? But seriously, stop it with the asinine post titles. They pollute my lovely RSS feed. Be descriptive, maybe mix a bit of whimsy in there, but you're not paid to be a comedian so don't act like it.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:25 PM on October 26, 2010


How difficult is it not to use overtly sexist terms?

My annoyingly mushy answer to this sort of thing is basically "very", because practically it's the question of how to get basically everybody to (a) be aware of what words and phrases may bother someone and (b) agree to the idea that that bother being caused is grounds for them to change their own choice of words on the site.

So there's two major points of failure even if most people agree that it's a better idea to not casually use language that bothers a lot of other people: there will always be some people who don't know, and there will always be some people who know but don't agree or don't care.

And while to an extent we can talk to people who intentionally use language to push other people's buttons about where the bounds of their expressive freedom collides with the practicalities of co-existing in a community setting, people who just don't know can't really be held accountable a priori for thoughtless usage that they didn't understand the impact of.

We'll always have new people. Not all of them will really have the pulse of this place down, so we'll always have situations where without malice someone kind of violates other people's sense of slow progress made. It's more of a "let's see that this isn't a recurring thing" thing than a "how could this happen thing", in other words; this sort of thing will always happen now and then.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:26 PM on October 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


As someone who managed to slip off the top step of a porch, go sailing out past the stairs, and land solidly on my ass on an inch of ice, I'm going to say that it doesn't necessarily refer to anal rape.

Just pain. Lots of pain.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:28 PM on October 26, 2010


CunningLinguist: This is turning into a parody.

Yeah, turning into one.
posted by paisley henosis at 2:28 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I took "haunted houses are for pussies" to be deliberately over-the-top, both aping and making fun of the overblown machismo that would go into an experience like Death - or would, anyway, if it existed. Kind of like the use of a different slur in this comic - it doesn't offend me because it's presented in such a ridiculous context.

But that's only how it struck me, and to be honest I have no idea if that's what the OP meant.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:29 PM on October 26, 2010


You guys do realize that the "Q word" you so revile is in Canterbury Tales.
posted by Mister_A at 2:29 PM on October 26, 2010


I'm not a huge fan of "pussy" outside of pillow talk and dirty language in commanding sexual contexts (dirtypillow talk?).

I have not heard "butthurt" in the context of spanking or receiving a beatdown. In all of the contexts I have heard it, it refers to someone being emotionally wounded as if they had been anally raped. This may have morphed from when (years back) and where (4chan) I had heard the term originally. Comparing numbers of hits on Google for "butthurt rape" versus "butthurt spank" is interesting. ED and the ripoff KnowYourMeme describe butthurt as originating from beatings and/or fuckings, so that's a point of variance. I would simply say that Keli's experience is not unique.

MetaTalk: Come for the pussies, stay for the butthurt.
posted by adipocere at 2:30 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


You are right, crunchland. Everyone but the oversensitive realize that "pussy" refers to the now obscure word, "pursy." No one associates it with a common term of abuse related to gender.

Also, you are right that people asking other people to be sensitive of a devastating personal experience is prissy, as school "marms' are known to be.

Hey, why should we ever talk about being civil on Metafilter? What an infringement of free expression rights, even to discuss it!
posted by bearwife at 2:30 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


bearwife, don't worry about crunchland. He's still uptight about not being offered a mod job.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:32 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you suppose its possible that you be civil, and let the rest of us worry about ourselves?
posted by crunchland at 2:32 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't think much of it until you pointed it out, and I think it's lame. But I have double standards. I find "pussy" offensive, but I would call someone a dick and am indifferent to the term. And I like calling people douchebags, because, as I've said before, douching is unnatural and bad for women and I loathe that these products are still on the market.
posted by anniecat at 2:32 PM on October 26, 2010


I once saw a dog pass a mitten that he had eaten. Talk about scooting!

Poetry!
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:33 PM on October 26, 2010


May I ask why?

Because it refers to being anally raped.


Um, I guess it COULD? But I've always heard the word in a "taking things too personally" context as in "Don't get all butthurt that I didn't invite you to my party" which in no way makes sense if you infer anal rape. I'm being serious, it just doesn't make sense to interpret it that way. "Don't get all anally raped that I didn't call you back last night?" No, doesn't compute.

I would agree that implying rape is something that should be avoid, but in the contexts in which I have used and heard the term "butthurt" it just flat out wouldn't make sense for it to refer to anal rape.

No, it doesn't. It's about whining like a little kid who's just been spanked. What IS IT with people and the obsession with anal rape? Other things happen to butts besides penises!

Yeah, this is more my interpretation of it as well. Though spanking, also should be avoided and don't actually spank your kids and all of that... but there is a certain "Post-spanking child" attitude that "butthurt" sums up nicely. Hypothetically. Metaphorically.

("Don't act like I just spanked you because I didn't call you back last night" - now THAT makes TOTAL sense.)

I do not endorse non-consensual spanking, just the use of the phrase "butthurt" as a descriptor of someone post spanking who is still all pissed off about the great injustice that was done to them, which while spanking sucks, was not really proportional to the amount of whining that currently is occurring.
posted by sonika at 2:34 PM on October 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


This post makes my butt hurt, and I'm not sure why...
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:37 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know about anybody else, but I am so goddamned tired of this.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:37 PM on October 26, 2010 [62 favorites]


The other day a bunch of comments were removed in this thread. Two were by someone who used the c-word to describe the residents of the penthouse. While I understand the first comment was removed due to the fact it was a shitty way to start off a thread, I didn't get why the second comment was deleted. The user explained in a very humorous manner why the people in the article were in fact, the c-word. He wasn't specifically calling a woman this word, but rather both people involved. I don't remember where the poster was from, but since I assume it was the UK and as we've discussed before, this is a very common term over there which isn't used in a sexist manner, I was a little taken aback by the deletion. I'm pretty sure several people felt the same way as it had 15 or so favourites before it was nixed. We've been told there aren't really any off limit words so long as a word isn't specifically used in a way which might be interpreted as derogatory towards women, minorities, etc. I'll bet the comment garnered not only a lot of favourites, but several flags. I'm curious why cortex didn't look take the context into account before getting rid of it.
posted by gman at 2:37 PM on October 26, 2010


This thread has been an education. I had no idea that Chaucer used the word queef.
posted by found missing at 2:37 PM on October 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


Kind of a dick move to use the word pussy in the title.
posted by Sailormom at 2:38 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mister_A: I honestly don't know what you're trying to say, by pointing out that the word appears in The Canterbury Tales. Lots of words that are horribly offensive to many people have appeared in classic literature. So? That doesn't change the fact that they're incredibly offensive now: c.f. my earlier response about "negro." The meanings of words change, and when they change for the worse (or when people realize that the way they've been using them is racist, sexist, etc.), we stop using them. It's part of advancing as a civilized society.
posted by tzikeh at 2:38 PM on October 26, 2010


Exactly when did Metafilter morph into a gaggle of butthurt pussy spazzes?
posted by Aquaman at 2:42 PM on October 26, 2010 [11 favorites]


Well then, found missing, you will marvel and gawp at this shit right here:

Whan folk hadde laughen at this nyce cas
Of absolon and hende nicholas,
Diverse folk diversely they seyde,
But for the moore part they loughe and pleyde.
Ne at this tale I saugh no man hym greve,
But it were oonly osewold the reve.
By cause he was of carpenteris craft,
A litel ire is in his herte ylaft;
He gan to butthurt, and blamed it a lite.
posted by Mister_A at 2:42 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


This askme was one of my favorites, like, ever. Fuck yes, dickwads.
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:43 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


put me down for always understanding butthurt to be about the after-spanking-pout session.
posted by nadawi at 2:44 PM on October 26, 2010


I'm curious why cortex didn't look take the context into account before getting rid of it.

I took the contexts into account. I get what Ted Maul was saying. I get that Ted Maul was playing to the "no no it's the less-dirty UK-style version" side of the equation. It was also pissing a lot of people off and was sort of fruit-of-the-poisonous-tree stuff given that he also kicked the thread off that way, a fact not lost on the people still reading the thread.

My take is, generally, if your witty takedown of someone is about your witty description of what a jerk or loser or disaffected richie-rich cultural wasteland, it's gonna work whether or not you seal the deal by calling them a cunt. If so, rewrite it. Use your vocabulary. Make it work.

If that's not true, if what you're saying is all about dropping that bomb, in a context where a lot of people really don't like seeing people doing that, maybe just move on with your day.

It's not "the context". There's more than one thing going on when someone jumps into a thread to repeatedly throw around a word that pisses a lot of people off.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:44 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


My valve!
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:45 PM on October 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


Is language policing on the rise? Honestly, in three days, we have this post, the douchebag post, and one that voluntarily reopens the USian-American debate!
posted by proj at 2:48 PM on October 26, 2010


We will always be at war with language. And there will always be n00bs.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:49 PM on October 26, 2010 [24 favorites]


I'm gonna go out and shoot some adverbs.
posted by The Whelk at 2:50 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


tzikeh (& bearwife & others) in reading your comments I think you have an error in your tactics in that you seem to want to -- I paraphrase here -- "teach metafilter", and I don't think that's an effective thing to do: teach the person (300two8 in this case). This might require that you build rapport with that person and take time to sway him, but may prove to be more effective to your goals than this -- again paraphrasing -- "cuss shaming" callout.

You will either find signatories to your beliefs or not, but trying to persuade all of metafilter at once is like moving the mountain. In the meantime, you wind up with unexpected antagonists (in a rhetorical not personal sense) like crunchland.

A side argument: after dismissing the "pussy" etymology argument, do you think there's validity in the "butthurt" etymology adipocere wrote of? Would you use it to further your own points?
posted by boo_radley at 2:51 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]



Is language policing on the rise?


It's a discussion, not an arrest. Last I looked, discussion was no threat to liberty to make language choices.
posted by bearwife at 2:51 PM on October 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Carefully, The Whelk.
posted by Mister_A at 2:52 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Would you yell "pussy" in a theater crowded with dicks?
posted by found missing at 2:54 PM on October 26, 2010


(dirtypillow talk?)

Could we also agree to never use the term dirtypillows outside of an Austin Powers film? Thanks!
posted by crossoverman at 2:54 PM on October 26, 2010


Also, boo_radley, I'm actually interested in people's answers to the question I asked, which is about whether they reacted the way I did to the use of the word "pussy" in the title cited.

I don't have a petition for people to sign, either.

I also don't have an opinion on "butthurt," which is also not a term I see or hear used much. Someone else raised that topic.
posted by bearwife at 2:55 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


What? No. Dirtypillows is from Carrie, you philistine.
posted by elizardbits at 2:57 PM on October 26, 2010 [15 favorites]


"So can we stop wasting time talking about etymology and start talking about the actual subject at hand?"

If I had pussy at hand I wouldn't be talking about anything on the internet.
posted by klangklangston at 2:57 PM on October 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


So you're acting all butthurt, eh klang?
posted by Mister_A at 2:58 PM on October 26, 2010


If I had pussy at hand I wouldn't be talking about anything on the internet.

Awwwww, kittehs!
posted by katillathehun at 2:58 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


stavrosthewonderchicken: I don't know about anybody else, but I am so goddamned tired of this.

I'm pretty goddamned tired of it, too--though my sense is that you're getting tired of *having to hear about* how some people are being constantly insulted and marginalized, while I'm getting tired of *being constantly insulted and marginalized.*

Poor you.
posted by tzikeh at 2:58 PM on October 26, 2010 [15 favorites]


Wait, I thought "butt hurt" had to do with "butt cold." This girl I went to school with from Nebraska said that's how they said it was extremely cold outside.
posted by anniecat at 2:59 PM on October 26, 2010


bearwife: Also, boo_radley, I'm actually interested in people's answers to the question I asked, which is about whether they reacted the way I did to the use of the word "pussy" in the title cited.

To be honest, I was a lot more surprised by the tags you chose for this post, than the title of the other.

Neither one offended me, though.
posted by paisley henosis at 2:59 PM on October 26, 2010


You can do both at once. Don't marginalize my drunken sunday nights, klang.
posted by elizardbits at 2:59 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always thought it was about cats. Because you can scare the shit out of some cats and they won't do anything about it. Punk-ass cats.
posted by electroboy at 3:00 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have never heard the term "butthurt" before. I would not use it, because it sounds like something a character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer might say, and, I'm sorry, but I just find the way those people talk to be annoying.

"Pussy" I have heard before. It's a gendered way of saying somebody is weak, and so I don't use it, because that makes it stupid.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:01 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's beginning to feel a bit Alice in Wonderlandish in here.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:03 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I flinch at nothing.
posted by Biru at 3:03 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


> So can we stop wasting time talking about etymology and start talking about the actual
> subject at hand? It's infuriating and it's *not* ridiculous to talk about how the words we
> choose carry various meanings whether we want them to or not, and we should be aware
> of them.
> posted by tzikeh at 5:25 PM on October 26 [+] [!]

Baby-bathwater problem. Instead of abandoning a word because it has picked up an objectionable meaning, we should just abandon the meaning.
posted by jfuller at 3:03 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: I always think of rape.
posted by emelenjr at 3:03 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Instead of abandoning a word because it has picked up an objectionable meaning, we should just abandon the meaning."

awesome! i'm all for it! first step, achieve actual equality for women.
posted by nadawi at 3:07 PM on October 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


Instead of abandoning a word because it has picked up an objectionable meaning, we should just abandon the meaning.

The word wasn't used in the cited title with any meaning other than the gendered one. I rarely hear or see the words I listed in my tags used with other meanings either.

I mean, this is a great sentiment, but the reason these words make me flinch is that they are routinely used with a gendered, and derogatory, meaning.
posted by bearwife at 3:08 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Niggardly has an etymology that's got nothing whatsoever to do with racism. But it's no stretch of the imagination to figure that someone would be offended at its use. Should its use be strongly dissuaded?
posted by five fresh fish at 3:08 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]



Wow. I didn't really agree with the banning of the "c-word" on here, but I understood the reasoning.

I probably haven't said the word out loud in a year. Just like that, I rarely use it in writing. So it wasn't a big deal to me, and I thought "well ok, I'll make an effort to not say or allude to a word which may be seen as offensive to this awesome community".

Now there's "oh...don't say douchebag, don't say pussy..., dont say BUTTHURT its offensive"

You guys are a bunch of pussies and douchebags for giving this argument credence.

also, I'm glad you're going to be feeling all butthurt because metafilter can't talk EXACTLY like your group of anti-social peeps who ask you to anonymously post how they can meet new people, or find someone to fuck.

Get over yourself; not everyone has to talk like you.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:09 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


> also, I'm glad you're going to be feeling all butthurt because metafilter can't talk EXACTLY like your group of anti-social peeps who ask you to anonymously post how they can meet new people, or find someone to fuck.

How's that trying to be a calmer and better contributor thing going for you?
posted by Burhanistan at 3:10 PM on October 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh no the niggardly debate again. Where is that button I hit to disable other people's accounts?
posted by Mister_A at 3:11 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


We'll always have new people.

there will always be n00bs.

I've said this before in other contexts, but people, especially new people, will take their cues from what they see (whether publicly or privately). If they don't see any "Hey, just so you know, a number of people are bothered by that sort of thing, might want to keep it in mind for the future," they're probably just going to keep doing it. Shouldn't someone at least link this MeTa thread in the original?

I don't like "butthurt," not for whatever rape connotations but because it always seems to be used in a condescending and dismissive way, like mimicking someone in a babytalk voice. It makes me think less of the person saying it, even (especially) if that person is someone I otherwise like and respect.
posted by Gator at 3:11 PM on October 26, 2010


FFF, cite? I've never seen or heard of "niggardly" being used in any way that refers to race or racism. Have you?

And, is there some reason we can't acknowledge that "pussy" is a word that does usually relate to gender, and negatively at that?
posted by bearwife at 3:11 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bad words are bad.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:12 PM on October 26, 2010


I mean, this is a great sentiment, but the reason these words make me flinch is that they are routinely used with a gendered, and derogatory, meaning.

You do realize you used the term "make me flinch" and not "makes us flinch", right? Think about that while you're proposing a set of rules for EVERYONE.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:12 PM on October 26, 2010


bearwife: Controversies about the word "niggardly"
posted by boo_radley at 3:13 PM on October 26, 2010


you're not paid to be a comedian so don't act like it.
What's comedian-like about the post title again?

it sounds like something a character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer might say, and, I'm sorry, but I just find the way those people talk to be annoying.
Having just re-watched Buffy in its entirety, I'd say "butthurt" sounds nothing like any of the Buffy characters. On the other hand, interjecting an insincere apology into the middle of a sentence is somewhat Buffy-like, and I agree with you that that's annoying.
posted by coolguymichael at 3:13 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Niggardly has an etymology that's got nothing whatsoever to do with racism. But it's no stretch of the imagination to figure that someone would be offended at its use. Should its use be strongly dissuaded?"

Kind of. I mean, I know this is just a made-up rhetorical question, but if I was editing someone's piece and they wrote "niggardly" in there, I'd be like, "Hey, man, this is needlessly obscure verbiage. Measly, parsimonious, stingy, scant, and hell, even cheeseparing is likely a better choice there, because your ability to clearly communicate won't be hampered and you won't have anyone thinking you said 'nigger.'" The only times when it shouldn't be discouraged is if it's fitting a rhyme, meter or alliterative scheme. Otherwise, it's bad writing. And bad writing should be discouraged.
posted by klangklangston at 3:14 PM on October 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


How's that trying to be a calmer and better contributor thing going for you?

Good call, burhanistan.

How about I change my post to:

Hey guys, lets just try not to offend people on here...and to not put personal preferences as rules for others.

I was all getting ready to go into hulk mode and drinking jolt and doing coke and listening to eminem and refreshing the page...not really.

But yeah, I got called out and the caller was right. Now I'm butthurt.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:16 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


the good part of this is that i get to link to the pussy manifesto again (if you watched it last time, this is a different performance).

the part that pertains to this conversation - if you want to talk about reclamation of words and removing long held meanings - the title of the post wasn't the way to do that, as it's been pointed out, it was used in exactly the objectionable way.

as Bitch says - Manifest this Muthafucka #3: I'm sick of my genitalia being used as an insult. Are you? It's time to let my labia rip and rearrange this. Here we go: "That was so Pussy of you to help me move to my new place! Especially since I'm living on the 13th floor. You've really made this a Pussy move!"
posted by nadawi at 3:17 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


hal_c_on, do tell me where I proposed any rules for anyone? Surprise! I didn't.
posted by bearwife at 3:17 PM on October 26, 2010


To be honest, I was a lot more surprised by the tags you chose for this post, than the title of the other.

This. Your claim of "I'm actually interested in people's answers to the question I asked, which is about whether they reacted the way I did to the use of the word "pussy" in the title cited" is kind of hard to buy given the obviously loaded tags you used.
posted by Big_B at 3:17 PM on October 26, 2010


To answer bearwife's question, yeah that title made me flinch. "Pussy" doesn't offend me as much as the C word but, using a term for female genitalia to connote a fearful or weak person is so....twentieth century. And just like I pipe up and challenge people for saying "that's so gay," I don't see how to encourage people to make full use of the abundance of the English vocabulary without pointing out lazy word choices.

Still I wonder how such a connotation came about, because when you think about what women go through in childbirth, it's a pretty goddamn powerful part of our anatomy, so the whole weak/fearful connotation fails.
posted by ambrosia at 3:18 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hi, let's try not to be dismissive of someone's personal experience.

True that. But lets not use a personal experience to limit a community's use of a few words.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:18 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


hal_c_on, do tell me where I proposed any rules for anyone? Surprise! I didn't.

Oh my bad, but what method of passive-aggression would you call this post whose purpose is to prevent people from using words that hurt your ears?
posted by hal_c_on at 3:20 PM on October 26, 2010


I've said this before in other contexts, but people, especially new people, will take their cues from what they see (whether publicly or privately).

And by and large what they will see on Metafilter is people not casually slinging around lazy gendered insults. Arguably the biggest problem we have on this sort of front is people who start contributing before they really get a sense of the place—it's far likelier that someone will import some bad habit from some other internet or social hangout where it's more common to throw e.g. "pussy" or "I'd hit it" around than that someone new will acquire the habit from the oddball case where it happens here.

Which, talking about it is fine, that's what Metatalk is here for, and I'd agree that linking to this from the original thread is a good idea. If someone feels like dropping the poster a polite mefimail about it, that's cool too.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:20 PM on October 26, 2010


Could someone please send me the list of upcoming words for "discussion" on whether or not they make us flinch? It's a fascinating series, and I want to make sure I don't miss a single episode.
posted by crunchland at 3:21 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


You guys are a bunch of pussies and douchebags for giving this argument credence.

I am, actually, not a pussy or a douchebag for listening to someone who has something to say in MetaTalk. If you don't like it, it's not your job to be here, so it would be nice if you didn't just show up and insult everyone gratuitously because you're bored or something.

Turning this thread into an exercise in ironic insults is bothersome and reduces the utility of MetaTalk. Realistically, we're not seriously at a mod level talking about banning people's use of either of those words. As usual, people who don't find themselves reduced by using different language may choose to do so. People who decide to seriouly ramp up their usage of those or any other insults just to get on people's nerves will be politely asked to knock it off and act like someone who is not in high school.

I use the term butthurt in casual spoken conversation, personally. I tend to not use it here because obviously there's some discrepancy in what people think it means compared to what I feel that it means. Language being what it is, wonderfully mercurial, there's really not a right answer. Since I know about that difference in interpretation, I can act accordingly since I actually choose the words I use to express myself and don't live in some sort of Humpty Dumpty reality.

Shouldn't someone at least link this MeTa thread in the original?

I mentioned this to another user in the context of someone using a word they found offensive in an AskMe question. The best and kindest thing to do is to drop the OP an email/MeMail directly and let them know "hey that's not really how we do things here" in the politest and kindest way possible and give them a chance to either request that their own post be edited or maybe just know it for next time. We can make a quick mod edit and no one has to get dragged into MeTa where people are bitching at each other before they even knew there was a problem. Part of being a community is that it's not [or shouldn't] be just the mods doing this, everyone can help.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:21 PM on October 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


I've pretty much only heard "butthurt" in the context of obnoxious video game players - the same folks who talk about winning being an act of rape, anyone and anything they don't like being gay, and women as being a separate, lesser, and utterly contemptible species. So I tend to lump it in with the rest of that set's catchphrases (and I do believe in that context it's almost always referring to anal rape.)

Without all that baggage, it's a pretty innocuous term, but it's probably worth knowing the baggage if you're going to use it.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:22 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Big B, I used the tags I did because those words also make me, bearwife, flinch. For the same reason -- the common derogatory gender connotation. I'm saying this for the second time -- see comment 83. I'm still interested in knowing what others thought about the title. Including you.
posted by bearwife at 3:24 PM on October 26, 2010


what method of passive-aggression would you call this post whose purpose is to prevent people from using words that hurt your ears?

I'd call it a question, in the interest of having a discussion.
posted by bearwife at 3:25 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


hal_c_on: You do realize you used the term "make me flinch" and not "makes us flinch", right? Think about that while you're proposing a set of rules for EVERYONE.

1) Nobody is proposing a set of rules. It amazes how quickly people jump on the DON'T YOU TELL ME I CAN'T SAY X bandwagon when someone tries to *discuss* a word, and the meaning it can carry, and how it can affect people.

2) Most words that we, as a society, do away with as offensive DON'T, generally, offend EVERYONE. If they offended everyone, no one would use them. QED.

3) The people who the words don't offend sometimes, eventually, down the road, recognize why the words were offensive, even though they didn't see it or think it at the time. The only way that can happen is if the offense is pointed out and explained and discussed, which is what bearwife started and what we are doing.
posted by tzikeh at 3:26 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


cortex, I didn't mean to suggest that new users would pick up bad habits here, but that they would, as you said, import bad habits from elsewhere and keep using them unless someone gently points out that it's not really how things are done here.

jessamyn, I didn't mean to suggest that MeTa should be the immediate go-to place for concerns like these, but that since this MeTa is already here, somebody could link to it since this particular horse is out of the barn already.

I just think it's easier (anywhere, really) for people to take their cues from stuff they actually see, rather than expect them to take hints from what they don't see. Most people just aren't that subtle and will tend to jump right in, bringing whatever baggage they're already carrying, as cortex suggested.
posted by Gator at 3:28 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


nope. lighten up.
posted by msconduct at 3:30 PM on October 26, 2010


I'd call it a question, in the interest of having a discussion.

But unfortunately you've not really set it up as a discussion, but just a statement along the lines of "hey this word sucks amirite?". I mean, did you really it expect that to be a productive means of engaging the community on an issue you obviously feel strongly about?
posted by modernnomad at 3:30 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay well on initial read I think it's a pretty lazy insult. But given the context, which for me is 1) that this is an utterly stupid way of getting a thrill and 2) has to be fake, I could see how a clever poster could actually be poking fun of someone using words like that, in a sort of "look at how stupid people have become that they would pay to be buried alive" way. A sort of LOLMORAN usage. Does that make sense?

And honestly I didn't even see the word. I don't use RSS and browse with IE so I sometimes miss the titles completely.
posted by Big_B at 3:30 PM on October 26, 2010


got it.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:31 PM on October 26, 2010


But I'm also with the crowd complaining that the whining about others language has become tiresome.
posted by Big_B at 3:32 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's clear to me that the point of Metatalk threads like this is not to promote the idea of automatically censoring words that a subset of the Metafilter community finds objectionable. (Right, guys? Please tell me I'm right...)

That said... what is the point of callout threads on language/loaded words? Because it seems an awful like the undertone of callout MeTa posts is, "I'm going to get loudly angry about this to demonstrate that I'm clearly in the more civilized subset!"

You're either advocating for software-level or mod-level censorship of language you, as a member of a subset of this community, find violent/offensive/"lazy", or you're trying to get people to voluntarily change their language use. Again, I hope it's not the former, but if it's the latter, do you really think you're going about it in the right way?

(Yes, "subset" was carefully chosen. I wouldn't dream of attaching "majority" or "minority" to that point of view...)
posted by supercres at 3:32 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Is it okay to call someone a pansy and a jackwagon?
posted by found missing at 3:33 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Other things happen to butts besides penises!

That right there is a sentence, ladies and gentlemen.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:33 PM on October 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


But unfortunately you've not really set it up as a discussion, but just a statement along the lines of "hey this word sucks amirite?"

modernnomad, here's what the post is -- a short question about the use of the word "pussy" in the cited title, followed by a question mark.

It is not a petition.

It is not a set of rules.

It is not a statement. The only statement I have made is about how I, bearwife, personally reacted to the title.

I asked this question because I am interested in the answers of MeFi members. All of you.
posted by bearwife at 3:34 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Big B, I used the tags I did because those words also make me, bearwife, flinch.

I don't think you understand how tags work. Might I suggest "offensive language" be added for future reference?

Why isn't this posted in the already open, only a few days old (referenced even in the title) thread about this stuff? Why is this a whole new post?
posted by NoraCharles at 3:35 PM on October 26, 2010


found missing

only if yellow makes them sad.
posted by nadawi at 3:35 PM on October 26, 2010


* "an awful lot like"

And I'm not saying that is the OP's motivation. I'm just saying that it can come off that way.

posted by supercres at 3:35 PM on October 26, 2010


But I'm also with the crowd complaining that the whining about others language has become tiresome.

This is essentially a "then don't read the thread" situation. If you find discussions about language tiresome, you can totally, totally skip them. It should be pretty obvious to anyone who reads enough Metatalk to get tired of the topic that we don't go around making sudden sweeping changes to permitted vocabulary around here, so you're almost certainly not going to miss a memo just because you declined to participate in one discussion or another.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:36 PM on October 26, 2010 [13 favorites]


"That right there is a sentence, ladies and gentlemen."

Ten bucks if you can get anyone on your show to say it.
posted by klangklangston at 3:39 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can I ask that if you don't especially care for discussions about language, you not compound the frustration and breakdown of civility by telling the people who raise the issue that they are "whining" or "too sensitive," or any other language that actively dismisses the subject?

I mean, seriously, if you care about language enough to step into this thread, care enough to defend it.

Oh, did I sound like Buffy there? Sorry.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:41 PM on October 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


Please don't use the word Buffy.
posted by found missing at 3:43 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ten bucks if you can get anyone on your show to say it.

More of a CSI sentence, really.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:44 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


All right, fine. We won't use "pussy" with the meaning that does not refer to a somewhat archaic term for a house cat or a slang term for a vagina.

What word -- what single word -- should we use that is both instantly recognizable to a modern reader that also captures ALL of the meaning and nuance that "pussy" infers, without inferring genitalia or felines?

Coward?
Chicken?
Dweeb?
Goofball?
Alarmist?
Craven?
Nincompoop?

Can't be done. Ergo, the word has a singular meaning that is independent of its other usages.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:45 PM on October 26, 2010


Yes. It has a single, sexist meaning that can't be duplicated.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:45 PM on October 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


"More of a CSI sentence, really."

Can't Simon just arch his eyebrows, maybe smirk a little?
posted by klangklangston at 3:47 PM on October 26, 2010


Astro Zombie: "Oh, did I sound like Buffy there? Sorry."

Somebody's coming off a little Dawn if you know what I mean, and I think you don't because you said you don't watch the show so I dunno.
posted by boo_radley at 3:48 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Point ... missed!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:48 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think chicken comes mighty close. And it reminds me of when we were all in the third grade and couldn't say swears!
posted by Max Power at 3:48 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, if your point wasn't that pussy is such a remarkable word that we can't do without it, what was your point?

Assume I'm not very bright and it's actually your job to explain yourself.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:50 PM on October 26, 2010


the whining about others language has become tiresome.

Fixed, etc.

There is a larger message here that I don't think is coming through. This isn't about "bad" words, or "dirty" words; it's about the awesome power of language, and that language can be wielded as a weapon, sociopolitically. When we see or hear others using language in such a way that it feeds into the easy, lazy, multiple forms of oppression encountered daily by millions of people who aren't straight, cis-gendered, white Christian men, if we *don't* point it out, then we're allowing that cycle to continue.

"I'm so tired of hearing people whine about what words other people use" is something you can say only if none of those words imply that you are, inherently, lesser than others.

People point out that this was a new person's first post, and that's fine--but saying "well, it's his first post, we'll give it a miss" is worse, in my opinion, because it's excusing the unconscious use of this kind of language, which is what perpetuates the problems.

Language is everything. It's everything.
posted by tzikeh at 3:54 PM on October 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


also bearwife:

I don't use the term in real life or internet (when being human) because saying it bothers me. Its a kind of visceral reaction rather than a well-thought out one, so I kinda don't say it at all.

I do, though, hear people using those terms beautifully every so often:
Borderline bitch
Masterfully constructed cunt
Whore bruise
Dykes only

So then I say, "whoa...maybe I shouldn't play with swords because I'm not trained in their proper usage. But a dictioninja could make some beauty with that. So yeah, lets let swords exist...I just don't have to buy them".

And the specific answer you were looking for was:

"It depends. If its used well, I applaud it. If its used poorly (see above), I'm kind of ambivalent about it. The only time I'd be up in arms is if somebody made a REAL (reads "non-academic) association with something offensive (pussy party). The usage in question seemed kinda "eh...but non-offensive". Thats why I was wondering why you were calling out this user for diction you didn't prefer.

Now I see you have the same kind of reaction that I do when I hear it. I think the difference is that I kinda see beauty in them every so often.

Hope that helps.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:54 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Assume I'm not very bright and it's actually your job to explain yourself.

Or don't bother if you don't want to, because 90 percent of this conversation is knee-jerking nonsense. Everybody here knows that "pussy" isn't a very good fit for this site. None of you use it here with any regularity, it almost never pops up, and the mods have made it clear that that's the sort of thing they would MeMail users about to ask them to cut it out. It's undeniably a gendered insult, and it brings down the quality of the discussion here, and it only got a pass this time because the guy was new and it didn't sound like the mods felt a need to make a big fuss about it.

So it's not ridiculous to ask people to be sensitive to language usage. For the most part, they already are, and you already are, or this wouldn't be MetaFilter, it would be a group of 12-year-old boys screaming at each other over their X-Boxes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:57 PM on October 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


"That right there is a sentence, ladies and gentlemen."

Ten bucks if you can get anyone on your show to say it.
posted by klangklangston at 10:39 AM on October 27 [+] [!]


Klangklangston, you are a clicking ninja, and I will also throw $10 via paypal into that pot.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:57 PM on October 26, 2010


My theory is that no one is being serious anymore about these requests, and it's really just a parody to show that if you exclude one thing from the community for being offensive, you might as well exclude them all. This doesn't follow, but it would be a brilliant strategy.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:58 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


tzikeh: "People point out that this was a new person's first post, and that's fine--but saying "well, it's his first post, we'll give it a miss" is worse, in my opinion, because it's excusing the unconscious use of this kind of language, which is what perpetuates the problems."

I hope that you have reached out to the poster to explain this directly and as non-confrontationally as possible, otherwise you're milling without grist.
posted by boo_radley at 3:59 PM on October 26, 2010


Yes, and "negro" is French for black

Actually, "negro" is Spanish for black; French for black is "noir", and "nègre" in French is an offensive word, a lot like "nigger". So... careful.

~*~*~The More You Know~*~*~
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 4:00 PM on October 26, 2010 [11 favorites]


The only statement I have made is about how I, bearwife, personally reacted to the title.

I asked this question because I am interested in the answers of MeFi members.


I appreciate that you want to hear what others think and I appreciate that you are trying to take a non-confrontational approach here. I happen to think 'pussy' is a not a great word for MeFi and wish people wouldn't use it.

But, I'm not really sure that this post is doing a lot of good towards the elimination of 'pussy' from MeFi. You obviously do have an opinion on the matter, so why not just come out and say why you don't like the word and what you think should be done about it? When you don't specify what course of action (if any) you want the mods or Mefites in general to take, it is pretty easy for people to make all kinds of assumptions (e.g. censorship!).

In other words, I don't think MeTa works very well as a poll-the-audience forum.
posted by ssg at 4:00 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, if your point wasn't that pussy is such a remarkable word that we can't do without it, what was your point?

Definitions drift. What started as one thing becomes another, sometimes gaining or losing meanings and inferences. It's all fluid and rarely, rarely needs to be placed in the proscribed behavior camp.

Assume I'm not very bright and it's actually your job to explain yourself.

Everyone needs a hug.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:01 PM on October 26, 2010


My theory is that no one is being serious anymore about these requests

Actually, I know that's not really true. I hope no one too offense.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:01 PM on October 26, 2010


Pussy cats are feeling left out in this discussion. They want nothing to do with female genitalia OR being sissies...oh, wait, too offensive. There must be a better word for that. Chickens? Chicken shits. No. Panty waists? No. Got it! Faint of heart!
posted by snsranch at 4:02 PM on October 26, 2010


I hope no one too offense.

Dork.

Wait, I'm sorry, I shouldn't use that term because it's derogatory to the quirky, silly and/or stupid, socially inept people, or those out of touch with contemporary trends. I apologize to those dorky, dorky people.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:03 PM on October 26, 2010


"I'm so tired of hearing people whine about what words other people use" is something you can say only if none of those words imply that you are, inherently, lesser than others.

I guess this gets to the core of the problem. I disagree that the word in question implies that anyone is inherently anything.
posted by eugenen at 4:03 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's all fluid and rarely, rarely needs to be placed in the proscribed behavior camp.

Really? You'd be surprised how badly I react when I hear somebody tell me I'm being a Jew when I don't want to pay too much, regardless of how much the word might have drifted.

Sure, it doesn't mean that much, and it's all just language drift and shouldn't be taken too seriously, until it's the word that describes just how terrible you are. Gay. Retard. Homo. Sissy. Etc.

This site is better off if people use those words with respect for the power they wiled, and not wave their hands and say, oh, language changes meaning. I'm not hurt by it, so why should anybody else be?
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:04 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also potentially worth noting: if something is "pussy," then it is in the manner of a small house cat, to wit: timid, easily frightened, or skittish.

If you don't know the word for your vagina, that is between you and your mother, but calling someone a pussy isn't calling them a vagina, it is calling them a scardey-cat.
posted by paisley henosis at 4:04 PM on October 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


More of a CSI sentence, really.

Is that a running joke? No way, I can totally see a female officer using the butt of her service weapon to knock a dude in the nuts, and some dude commenting about it.

That is a beautiful sentence in its own right, though.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:04 PM on October 26, 2010


I didn't flinch, but I did swoon. Fortunately I have my smelling salts.
posted by found missing at 4:05 PM on October 26, 2010


Not that it matters at all, since these threads only exist for people to out-PC-rage one-another, like a bunch of spastic cunts.
posted by paisley henosis at 4:05 PM on October 26, 2010


People point out that this was a new person's first post, and that's fine--but saying "well, it's his first post, we'll give it a miss" is worse, in my opinion, because it's excusing the unconscious use of this kind of language, which is what perpetuates the problems.

It's not excusing it, it's just declining to give the guy a hard time about (or a harder time than whatever being the indirect subject of a metatalk post constitutes, assuming he becomes aware of it). Metatalk exists and the contact form and the flagging system and mefimail all exist as ways for people in the community to try and address stuff that they think needs addressing—whether to other users or to us mods or to the community as a whole—and all of them provide in different ways some approach to not so much excuse any given contentious use of language as to discuss it.

Basically, for things where the offense isn't something that unambiguously requires direct public mod intervention the system has options. We aren't restricted to a choice between like Publicly Rebuke or Excuse, and knowing that in most cases there's no malice involved at all on the part of the person who tread into tricky territory, that's a good and important thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:06 PM on October 26, 2010


HI PLEASE NEVER USE THE FOLLOWING WORDS EVEN IF I'M NOT AROUND THEY MAKE ME A BIT SAD THANKS

Squenge
Voot
Grambo
Gning
Dreefbram
Pippimidantriough
Derse
Waf
Pha
Oll
Flouranger
posted by The Discredited Ape at 4:06 PM on October 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


You obviously do have an opinion on the matter, so why not just come out and say why you don't like the word and what you think should be done about it?

Well, of course, and it is no mystery what my opinion is. I've said it before, several times in this thread, and will repeat again here. I greatly dislike the word, and the other ones in my tags, because of their common derogatory gendered use. But all I want us to do is discuss it. Everyone decides for themselves on their usage choices and preferences.

I could not agree more with tzikeh that language is everything, so I think a discussion about it is valuable. And I'm asking people for their reactions because that's how I think of discussing -- I ask, you ask, we listen to each other's responses.
posted by bearwife at 4:09 PM on October 26, 2010


Roderick Craven
yes, a craven... let us not forget Prices' "The Raven". had all the criteria for this post. jack Nicholson, intrigue, cats, humor, a bird with a really sharp beak...
posted by clavdivs at 4:10 PM on October 26, 2010


bearwife:

Are you asking for their GUT reactions (which MeTa) produces...or well thought out ones...because you can't get that shit out here in the state of nature (aka MetaTalk).
posted by hal_c_on at 4:10 PM on October 26, 2010


Dork.

Wait, I'm sorry, I shouldn't use that term because it's derogatory to the quirky, silly and/or stupid, socially inept people, or those out of touch with contemporary trends. I apologize to those dorky, dorky people.


Weird, where I'm from it's a slang for penis that has, I admit, changed over the years to mean your description, but it started out as penis.
posted by Max Power at 4:11 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I looked up the etymology of pussy -- looks like it's not gendered, as I had presumed, but is actually a variation of the Old French word variously spelled pourcif, poulsif, poussif, meaning "to push." Using "pussy" for female genitalia is a homonym.

That being said, it is pretty common to use gendered words to indicate male weakness, so it's understandable that people would presume this is what's happening. Nonetheless, it's not the case.

So I retract my comments about the word being sexist, but maintain that it's the sort of word that really brings down the quality of discussion on this site, as do any playground taunts.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:13 PM on October 26, 2010


Are you asking for their GUT reactions (which MeTa) produces...or well thought out ones...because you can't get that shit out here in the state of nature (aka MetaTalk).

Really? I thought you provided a thoughtful, thought out and thought provoking response a little earlier in this thread. (comment 135)
posted by bearwife at 4:14 PM on October 26, 2010


This site is better off if people use those words with respect for the power they wiled

Communities are always better off if the people within them are respectful to one another. There are lines. Gay teenagers keep killing themselves. I get that.

But the lines go the other way, too. People threatened because they dare to offend. I find that alarming.

Every time you see someone using offensive language, you cringe.

Every time I see someone bristling at offensive language -- really, just words on a screen written by strangers you'll likely never meet -- I cringe.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:14 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It has a single, sexist meaning that can't be duplicated.

Respectfully and earnestly, how is the definition of the insult "pussy" sexist? I totally get how pussies (and the women who have them) are awesome, and to associate awesome things with negative words is bad, but how is "a mixture of cowardice and goodie-two-shoedness" sexist?
posted by 23skidoo at 4:15 PM on October 26, 2010


But the lines go the other way, too. People threatened because they dare to offend. I find that alarming.

Was anybody here responsible for that? I don't recall Bearwife threatening anybody, particularly anybody from South Park.

People have a right to be offended, and they have a right to raise their objections in a civil manner, as Bearwife did. Sometimes they're wrong -- I disagreed about the usage of douchebag, and I have changed my understanding of what pussy means. But that doesn't mean their coming to MeTa and raising a question is somehow the equivalent of death threats.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:17 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Respectfully and earnestly, how is the definition of the insult "pussy" sexist?

I suspect you missed my follow-up comment.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:18 PM on October 26, 2010


But that doesn't mean their coming to MeTa and raising a question is somehow the equivalent of death threats.

Point ... missed! Again!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:18 PM on October 26, 2010


I don't know what to say. Either I'm an idiot, or you're not very good at making points. Either way, if you feel you have been misunderstood, explaining in a clearer way is always an option.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:20 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Using "pussy" as a slur isn't something grownups should do. It's just juvenile and tacky. Yes, there's a clear sexist element in play -- you're conflating the vagina with weakness, I mean, come on, what the fuck is that -- but I don't think the average person who uses the term is mature enough to even make that connection. I'm pretty sure I haven't used it as a non-joking straight-up insult since I was about fifteen. So what bothers me when I see a post called "___ is for pussies" is that I think I've accidentally stumbled onto AICN or something. It just sucks. If I can say that. Can I say that? I'm saying it anyway. It sucks.

But I don't care about it all that much, really. What I do find interesting about these conversations we keep having is that, to me, they're really about defining what kind of a place this is. Like: Most people would never dream of calling someone a pussy in the workplace, but they might not think anything of saying it in their homes, around their friends...but then again, they might not say it around their friends if they were eating dinner at a nice restaurant. Whether saying it is a good or a bad or a totally neutral thing, having to place a check on your language starts to sketch the parameters of what sort of setting MeFi is. No judgment on that; I too like nice restaurants, but not everyone can relax in one.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:20 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


(comment 135)

Sidenote, bearwife: comment numbers aren't native to the site, they're the product of a script you're using. Mentioning the comment number is going to be meaningless for almost everybody; either quote or link a comment if you want to refer unambiguously to it.

posted by cortex (staff) at 4:21 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also, AZ, though there are indeed two word origins in play, they are overlapping in usage. (So much so that people who don't do the research simply equate pussy and vagina) Re the weak or cowardly person etymology:

The word pussy can also be used in a derogatory sense to refer to a male who is not considered sufficiently masculine (see Gender role). When used in this sense, it carries the implication of being easily fatigued, weak or cowardly.

Men dominated by women (particularly their partners or spouses and at one time referred to as 'Hen-pecked') can be referred to as pussy-whipped (or simply whipped in slightly more polite society or media).

posted by bearwife at 4:22 PM on October 26, 2010


bearwife: I asked this question because I am interested in the answers of MeFi members.


It didn't make me flinch. I have used "pussy" occasionally myself, in appropriate contexts. ie, when everybody within hearing is someone I know very well, and I also know that they wouldn't flinch at it.

I don't think it adds anything useful to this site, though.

Astro Zombie: it is pretty common to use gendered words to indicate male weakness, so it's understandable that people would presume this is what's happening. Nonetheless, it's not the case.

On the other hand, from wikipedia: Other vernacular words for effeminacy include: "pansy", "nelly", "pretty boy", "sissy", "pussy", and "girl" (when applied to a boy or, especially, adult man).
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:22 PM on October 26, 2010


Look, let's just keep the list of proscribed words short and simple:

I'm down with banning Gay (as a pejorative), Fag, Cunt and the many and various racial epithets. Anything more than that gets fucking ridiculous and too hard to keep track of.
posted by empath at 4:24 PM on October 26, 2010


I looked up the etymology of pussy -- looks like it's not gendered, as I had presumed, but is actually a variation of the Old French word variously spelled pourcif, poulsif, poussif, meaning "to push." Using "pussy" for female genitalia is a homonym.

Surely the fact that basically everybody who uses "pussy" thinks they're comparing some soft and cowardly person to women's genitals matters much more than this etymology that nobody has ever heard of. The word is used sexistly, and it's sexist. You were right the first time.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 4:24 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, sure. I may have been unclear. It's terrifically common to use female-gendered insults against men, or against women. Pussy just happens, to my astonishment, not to be one of them. It's a false cognate.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:24 PM on October 26, 2010


Anything more than that gets fucking ridiculous and too hard to keep track of.

Is "pussy" something you typically use, and now will have to strip it from your MetaFilter vocab list?

If not, it's probably not much of an issue for you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:26 PM on October 26, 2010


Empath, I am not suggesting a ban. For one thing, the mods have enough to do! We all decide ourselves on what language choices we make. I think sometimes the words are worth discussing.
posted by bearwife at 4:27 PM on October 26, 2010


I greatly dislike the word, and the other ones in my tags, because of their common derogatory gendered use. But all I want us to do is discuss it.

That's just fine. All I mean to say is that if you had written that in your post, I think it would be a lot easier for people to respond positively.

Everyone decides for themselves on their usage choices and preferences.

This was not at all clear to me until just now and I think it would have been a great way to frame the discussion positively.
posted by ssg at 4:27 PM on October 26, 2010


Really? I thought you provided a thoughtful, thought out and thought provoking response a little earlier in this thread. (comment 135)

Happens when I need to step away and smoke a joint. Don't do drugs kids; it might calm your ass down.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:28 PM on October 26, 2010


Language is everything. It's everything.
posted by tzikeh at 3:54 PM on October 26


Um, no it's not. It's relevant, it matters, but it's not everything. Get some perspective. It is precisely this kind of shrill, politically-correct fanaticism that allows troglodytes like Rush Limbaugh to spew venomous usages such as feminazi with impunity. It drives otherwise sympathetic users such as myself to wonder if I really do want to accommodate the views of someone with such a misguided sense of priorities. You had me, right up until that. Seriously.

You know though, every time I read one of these discussions, I discover some which profanity I never even knew existed. So it's worthwhile for that.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:28 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


This was not at all clear to me until just now and I think it would have been a great way to frame the discussion positively.

It might also help if people don't assume a ban is being called for when it hasn't explicitly been called for. Bearwife is not responsible for other people's behavior in this thread. They came out, guns-a-drawn, on their own accord.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:29 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


On a largely unrelated note, "Other things happen to butts besides penises!" is the only line in the thread that really does sound like Buffy to me. A bluer, more 2010-era Buffy, okay, but Buffy just the same.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:30 PM on October 26, 2010


Herewith an imaginary dialogue.

Shopper: "Hi, I'm looking for rape oil."
Grocery store employee: "Uh, what?"
S: "You know, rape oil. It comes from rapeseed?"
GSE: "Still not ringing a bell."
Another shopper, overhearing: "Hey, do you mean canola oil by any chance?"
S: "How dare you oppress me! Language police!"

The moral of the story: Words are fluid. Over time, they shed old meanings and nuances and acquire new ones. If you wish to engage in good faith with a large community, you probably won't invite sympathy or credibility by adopting a reactionary posture with regard to those meanings.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 4:34 PM on October 26, 2010


butts besides penises!

*checks Tumblr*
posted by found missing at 4:34 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think a pretty good case can be made that "pussy" has actually acquired a sexist meaning, not the other way around.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:35 PM on October 26, 2010


you probably won't invite sympathy or credibility by adopting a reactionary posture with regard to those meanings

What modern meaning for the word did I miss in the cited title? Looked like the same old derogatory gendered meaning to me . . . no?
posted by bearwife at 4:36 PM on October 26, 2010


I'm still interested in knowing what others thought about the title.

I thought the same thing I think when someone IRL says the word: "Well, this person is obviously a low-class, sexist creep, and nothing they say is going to be of any value." And then I leave as soon as possible.
posted by MexicanYenta at 4:37 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


On a largely unrelated note, "Other things happen to butts besides penises!" is the only line in the thread that really does sound like Buffy to me. A bluer, more 2010-era Buffy, okay, but Buffy just the same.

Ironically, I've never been able to get through more than ten minutes of anything by Joss Whedon.
posted by katillathehun at 4:37 PM on October 26, 2010


I never watched that show. I couldn't work up the interest, despite (okay, maybe because) of all the hoopla about it.
posted by timeistight at 4:38 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shopper: "Hi, I'm looking for rape oil."
Grocery store employee: "Uh, what?"
S: "You know, rape oil. It comes from rapeseed?"
GSE: "Still not ringing a bell."
Another shopper, overhearing: "Hey, do you mean canola oil by any chance?"
S: "How dare you oppress me! Language police!"

Wait, you're actually painting the first shopper as the one at fault here?

Is giving someone shit for using a word you don't know something adults do now?
posted by Space Coyote at 4:38 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


--misplaced a bracket there--
posted by timeistight at 4:39 PM on October 26, 2010


Will someone please write a greasmonkey script so people who find words too offensive to read on MetaFilter can just make those words disappear? Your own private kill file but for words instead of people.
posted by terrapin at 4:39 PM on October 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


It's interesting that these threads keep popping up. Particularly interesting is that the OP of the thread mentioned is a newbie.

Not everyone reads MeTa.

I recently used an offensive word in an Ask post and got called out on it right quick. In thread. I wish it were brought to my attention privately. That being said, I contacted Jessamyn and she fixed it for me very quickly.

Why couldn't that have been done in this case?
posted by morganannie at 4:41 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Looked like the same old derogatory gendered meaning to me . . . no?

Yes, absolutely. Sorry for not being clearer--I meant that arguing that the derogatory use of "pussy" is based on a false etymology is missing the point (cf. "niggardly," which despite its non-slur lexicographic pedigree is widely, and in my opinion properly, avoided these days).
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 4:41 PM on October 26, 2010


I thought this was gonna be about the Hausu thread.
posted by jtron at 4:43 PM on October 26, 2010


my vote:
douchebag - no big deal
pussies (as in wuss) - While I prefer not to see women's body parts used as slang for
weakness, doesn't seem to be a big MeFi trend
butthurt - get your own MeTa thread
posted by theora55 at 4:44 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, interesting point, AkzidenGrotesk. Thanks for explaining.
posted by bearwife at 4:44 PM on October 26, 2010


I recently used an offensive word in an Ask post and got called out on it right quick. In thread.

I saw the title when the thread was over 100 comments long, a bit late to call it. I'm actually not looking to call out the OP anyway -- my objective is to discuss the word, by asking people about their reaction to it.
posted by bearwife at 4:48 PM on October 26, 2010


One other point is that I find it somewhat ironic that your chosen user-name is actually fairly contemptuous of the female gender, bearwife. Given the treatment of women as chattel throughout history, one would think that you of all users might wish to avoid self-identifying as someone who'd existence is seen as only relevant in her relationship with a man, and the connotations of the word "wife" ...

Word Origin & History

wife
O.E. wif "woman," from P.Gmc. *wiban (cf. O.S., O.Fris. wif , O.N. vif , Dan., Swed. viv , M.Du., Du. wijf , O.H.G. wib , Ger. Weib ), of uncertain origin. Some proposed PIE roots include *weip- "to twist, turn, wrap," perhaps with sense of "veiled person" (see vibrate); or *ghwibh- , a proposed root meaning "shame," also "pudenda," but the only examples of it are wife and Tocharian (a lost IE language of central Asia) kwipe, kip "female pudenda." The modern sense of "female spouse" began as a specialized sense in O.E.; the general sense of "woman" is preserved in midwife, old wives' tale, etc. M.E. sense of "mistress of a household" survives in housewife ; and later restricted sense of "tradeswoman of humble rank" in fishwife . Du. wijf now means, in slang, "girl, babe," having softened somewhat from earlier sense of "bitch." Wife-swapping is attested from 1959.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper



Why is your use of what is really a pretty sexist word to describe yourself any better than the poster's ( admittedly weak) usage?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:56 PM on October 26, 2010


Because it refers to being anally raped.

Nah. You get to my age and it's more likely to refer to hemmorrhoids or the 'ring of fire' effect from too many jalapeno poppers. (actually, I was recently at a bar out in Forest Hills and off their menu I ordered an 'Asshole Burger', a burger topped with pepper jack cheese, jalapeno peppers, and chipotle mayo. It was tasty but a few hours later, I learned the origin of the name.)
posted by jonmc at 4:56 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


It is precisely this kind of shrill, politically-correct fanaticism that allows troglodytes like Rush Limbaugh to spew venomous usages such as feminazi with impunity.

Let me see if I understand you correctly. Gendered insults have so little power to affect anything that anyone who raises the question is a shrill, politically correct fanatic. But raising the question of the usage of those words has so much power that it gives permission for a millionaire demagogue to unabashedly hate women.

Did I get that right?
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:57 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't know whether you're being deliberately obtuse or not, PareidoliaticBoy, but is it possible for you to have this discussion without making it personal? You don't know the reason for the selection of the user name, and it's really none of your business. I presume you were being facetious in your accusation of hypocrisy, and I don't see what that contributes to the discussion but contempt for it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:00 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did I get that right?

No, you got it entirely wrong.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:00 PM on October 26, 2010


Yes, and "negro" is French for black,

Actually, "negro" would be Spanish for black, "noir" is the French word for black.
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:01 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Really? I can't find another explanation. Please enlighten me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:01 PM on October 26, 2010


I don't see what that contributes to the discussion but contempt for it.

I just found it odd, and at odds with her position, which I am (somewhat) in agreement with; no contempt involved, whatsoever.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:03 PM on October 26, 2010


Why is your use of what is really a pretty sexist word to describe yourself any better than the poster's (admittedly weak) usage?

Please do not do this here. Go to MeMail if you have an actual question about someone's username. In the context of this thread it just seems like a fighty callout.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:03 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


1000monkeys, already pointed out, you are reading all the comments, right?
posted by mlis at 5:04 PM on October 26, 2010


One other point is that I find it somewhat ironic that your chosen user-name is actually fairly contemptuous of the female gender, bearwife.

For real? Do you object to people being told they are now "husband and wife" at the end of a marriage ceremony, too?

As my profile says, my handle comes from the fact that I am married to a grizzly bear-like man. These days, "wife" means the female member of a heterosexual married couple. My husband is OK with being referred to as a husband, too. He is one -- mine.
posted by bearwife at 5:04 PM on October 26, 2010


Really? I thought you provided a thoughtful, thought out and thought provoking response a little earlier in this thread. (comment 135)

WHERE ARE YOU GETTING COMMENT NUMBERS IN A HUGE THREAD AND HOW?!?!?!!11
posted by BigVACub at 5:05 PM on October 26, 2010


And I would add that I look forward to the day that gay couples everywhere get to use the words "husband" and "wife" too.
posted by bearwife at 5:07 PM on October 26, 2010


I am not oppressed by the word "pussy". I am perfectly capable of drawing my own conclusions about what that might mean and if I care on a case-by-case basis. I try hard not to get offended by things that don't really affect my daily life in any meaningful way. I'm more offended by people's actual misogynistic beliefs; such as boys are gross and real girls don't play with dirt, or that the default mode of the normal woman is to be a quiet, non-confrontational "girly-girl", and therefore outspoken or confrontational woman are less feminine. I think these ideas that are considered perfectly reasonable to a lot of people are far more insidious forms of sexism than saying silly stuff like "I'd hit it" or "pussy".

But that's just me.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:07 PM on October 26, 2010 [11 favorites]


non preview, thank you cortex.
posted by BigVACub at 5:08 PM on October 26, 2010


WHERE ARE YOU GETTING COMMENT NUMBERS IN A HUGE THREAD AND HOW?!?!?!!11

My bad. I forgot I see them because of one of my scripts for MetaFilter, which not everyone else is using too. Check the wiki, I think it has links for the scripts. I love a lot of them.
posted by bearwife at 5:09 PM on October 26, 2010


I can't find another explanation. Please enlighten me.

Your inability to grasp that a shrill and strident insistence on political correctness to the exclusion of all other consideration whatsoever precludes you from understanding the ammunition which such behavior provides to the right.

Further, if anyone's tone here is contemptuous and dismissive of others, it would be yours. Please engage me with a less antagonistic attitude, or otherwise I respectfully request that you don't engage me at all.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:09 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty goddamned tired of it, too--though my sense is that you're getting tired of *having to hear about* how some people are being constantly insulted and marginalized, while I'm getting tired of *being constantly insulted and marginalized.*

Well, you're partially correct, at least on my end. Although it is regrettable that some of our more sensitive members feel insulted and marginalized by the ways that others use language, I am indeed tired of these threads, and though I respect the moderators' positions that inclusiveness is an overriding imperative, and I equally understand people's reasonable expectations for civility and respect, I remain in the camp that suggests that some segment of the population are and will always be some combination of foolish, stupid, rude, bigoted or simply ignorant of the power their words have, and that being insulted or marginalized by the language they use is a losing proposition.

It means you will never stop being insulted and marginalized, because there will always be people who use language in a way that does that to you, no matter how much you suggest, correctly, that it can be unsavoury. Especially on the internet, where people feel less social constraint, it will never stop, because there is no end to the supply of.... here I pause theatrically to wonder if this word will offend somebody... assholes.

So, over your end, I have no influence other than choosing the words I personally use carefully, and my expectation (but not requirement) that others do as well. I have no interest or desire to influence or control the words that others choose.

My suggestion, as always, remains the pragmatic one: judge as you will individual people according to the words they use rather than taking offense or assuming a victim stance. The former empowers you, the latter disempowers you.

The endless succession of wheelspinning conversations about the issue here may have been useful ones to have the first 10 or 15 times because it is an important and thorny topic, but at this point, I do not see the utility beyond a ritual airing of grievances.

I understand the issue, I am sympathetic to those who are upset by the thoughtless way that words can be wielded by those unaware of the implications of their words choices, but yeah, I'm bone-tired of these threads.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:12 PM on October 26, 2010 [28 favorites]


And I would add that I look forward to the day that gay couples everywhere get to use the words "husband" and "wife" too.

Errr... In a discussion about how language has meaning and is gendered, does it really seem appropriate to brandish one's credentials by suggesting that gay couples should use gendered terms for their partners? This reminds of me of when older people say "I wonder which one is 'the man'" when referring to same-sex couples. Not trying to be a fighty callouter, just saying this is why these things are so tricky and why one person's innocuous is another person's offensive and why it's difficult to establish which is which.
posted by proj at 5:12 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Please engage me with a less antagonistic attitude, or otherwise I respectfully request that you don't engage me at all.

I apologize for any perceived antagonism, which was not my intention.

Now, what did you mean?
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:15 PM on October 26, 2010


I've noticed that threads like this seem to increase when we're near Thanksgiving and Xmas. Maybe it's all a manifestation of dreading seeing those rightwing relatives around the table.
posted by jonmc at 5:15 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Your inability to grasp that a shrill and strident insistence on political correctness to the exclusion of all other consideration whatsoever precludes you from understanding the ammunition which such behavior provides to the right.

Oh, I suppose this is what you meant. I don't agree, and would love to see you back this up.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:16 PM on October 26, 2010


No, in response to bearwife's initial question. Pussy just isn't a gendered insult, and is far from "overtly sexist".
posted by goo at 5:17 PM on October 26, 2010


Haven't read either thread, but has anyone put a link to this callout in the original thread or Mefimailed the poster of the original thread?

People can't learn if they don't know.
posted by nomadicink at 5:17 PM on October 26, 2010


Eponysterical, PareidoliaticBoy! Also, not really cool to harp on the username. Before I checked her profile (which explains the name in a pretty interesting way) I imagined bearwife to be the ironic male partner of a hairy guy. Actually, now I still do (but I mean that as a compliment).

Anyway, I'm with you, bearwife. I think of this as the "Jon Stewart Exception." Jon is so cool and everything, so when he uses "pussy" to describe wimpiness, it must be ok, right? I love Jon, but every time he says pussy I get pissed off and then immediately think again of the rarity of women on his show (both as coworkers and guests).

And another thing, WRT the discussion upthread of whether there are good substitutes for pussy, I think "whimp" is just about perfect. And it's perfect because it describes lack of will, not "effeminacy" (which, if you think about it, is the core problem with "pussy")

[And, since someone will come along in a moment to promote me to Language Police Officer, let me clear up in advance that I will ticket you if you try to use "wuss" or "wussy," because those are just whimpy ways of saying pussy.
posted by Mngo at 5:17 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fuck your cranberry sauce.
posted by klangklangston at 5:18 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


a shrill and strident insistence insistence on political correctness to the exclusion of all other consideration whatsoever

bearwife's been shrill? And strident? And insistent to the exclusion of all other considerations whatsoever? I must have missed whatever comment of hers it was in. All the comments of hers I read were polite, measured invitations to answer a question.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:19 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Husband and wife are legal terms. Neither is intrinsically offensive to anyone, in my experience.

I may not have said it artfully, but I think it would be most desirable if same sex couples everywhere could marry, and use the terms they prefer. My experience has been that same sex friends of mine who have been able to marry, or who have arranged commitment ceremonies, use the usual gendered terms, husband and wife, to refer to their partners, but whatever term people do or don't choose to use about their significant other is fine with me.
posted by bearwife at 5:22 PM on October 26, 2010


Fuck your cranberry sauce.

No, no, the mashed potatoes.
posted by jonmc at 5:22 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I wasn't aware that my question would be perceived that way. I am a bit surprised, I have apologized to bearwife, and I apologize to anyone else who found it offensive, as well.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:24 PM on October 26, 2010


No worries, PareidoliaticBoy. And thank you again.
posted by bearwife at 5:27 PM on October 26, 2010


Stop being so butthurt, you fucking pussies.
posted by Ouisch at 5:27 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wasn't aware that my question would be perceived that way. I am a bit surprised, I have apologized to bearwife, and I apologize to anyone else who found it offensive, as well.

Apology BARELY accepted.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:29 PM on October 26, 2010


bearwife's been shrill? And strident? And insistent to the exclusion of all other considerations whatsoever?

That is NOT whom I was referring to. But it's a long thread, and since I seem to be making such a mess out of it, having apologized as best I can, I will step out now before I do any more damage.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:30 PM on October 26, 2010


The Law of Taters: The longer a thread progresses, the probability of suggesting gastro-intercourse with yourself approaches unity.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:32 PM on October 26, 2010


And someone, please pass me a douchebag for my sandy vagina.
posted by Ouisch at 5:33 PM on October 26, 2010


And someone, please pass me a douchebag for my sandy vagina.

Are you mad at cortex and me personally? If not, can you please stop?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:33 PM on October 26, 2010


One other point is that I find it somewhat ironic that your chosen user-name is actually fairly contemptuous of the female gender, bearwife.

For real? Do you object to people being told they are now "husband and wife" at the end of a marriage ceremony, too?


I don't think they were getting at your usage of the term "wife". I think the user is getting at the fact that you self-identify as a "wife". "Wife" not being able to exist without husband (or partner, whatever), it says more about you being WITH somebody than being somebody.

I don't necessarily agree, but it is a good point.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:34 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It occurs to me that "scaredy-cat" might be the poussified form of "pussy."

Also, all the rage should go away if instead of spelling it "pussy," we revert to the French spelling, and definition, "poussif."
posted by five fresh fish at 5:34 PM on October 26, 2010


And someone, please pass me a douchebag for my sandy vagina.

Are you mad at cortex and me personally? If not, can you please stop?


Wait...so thats a valid action to do if we get mad at you or cortex? I'm gonna favorite that comment.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:36 PM on October 26, 2010


Goddammit, until I joined this site I never in my life told anyone to listen to a fucking zombie, and now I find myself doing it for the second time in a few days: listen to Astro Zombie, he has his undead head screwed on straight.

> but yeah, I'm bone-tired of these threads.

You know there's a way to deal with that other than reading and commenting in these threads, right?
posted by languagehat at 5:38 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I can't speak for anyone else's motivations, but my reaction in this thread is a "death by a thousand cuts" issue, as well as an inclination to oppose politically correct speech. I can't even remember the last time I've personally used any of the words recently objected to, but I am not about to tell someone else how they should or shouldn't express themselves. And I think the language they use reflects more on them, and not the community.
posted by crunchland at 5:39 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


I asked this question because I am interested in the answers of MeFi members.

I love the word pussy and don't see it as oppressive or gendered at all. Much prefer people to use pussy than 'it' - I'd hit it, etc.

I was going to say animal terms are more offensive but but poor cow is kind of affectionate. I suppose it'd be more of a concern if they were aimed at men as a bad thing, ie take it like a bitch. That makes it gendered. But pussy as cowardly or whatever, I like better than words that seem aimed at physical disabilities (like lame).

The only posts that have really worried me on metafilter have been in a thread on taking photos of underage girls and another on masturbating women, and none used the word pussy. It was more like 'some snips snapper' and comments about how men were currently wanking off to that image. The words aren't as important as the context and these seemed really off, but none used an actual word you could point to as an indicator.

So a) you can totally be offensive about women without using specific words and b) sometimes a bad word is totally fine in the context it's used.
posted by shinybaum at 5:43 PM on October 26, 2010


Crunchland, I never told anyone what speech to use.

Someday, someone is going to figure out that a discussion about how a user feels about how people express themselves is not the same thing as a request to censor, or even to self censor.

Also, I appreciate that you personally don't use these words. Thanks for making that choice.
posted by bearwife at 5:45 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


> I meant that arguing that the derogatory use of "pussy" is based on a false etymology is
> missing the point (cf. "niggardly," which despite its non-slur lexicographic pedigree is widely,
> and in my opinion properly, avoided these days).
> posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 7:41 PM on October 26 [+] [!]

This despite that whole incident sounding like a joke made up by white scriptwriters for a 1933 Amos 'n' Andy episode.
posted by jfuller at 5:46 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I try hard not to get offended by things that don't really affect my daily life in any meaningful way.

Actually, use of gendered words as insults does affect your daily life, you just may not be aware of it. Implying that female genitalia are a bad thing reinforces and endorses the idea that women are inferior, and that affects you on a daily basis, whether you are a woman who would like to go out after dark without worrying about being raped, or merely the son of a woman who would like to be able to go out after dark without worrying about being raped.

However, as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter whether the word is banned or not. Not banning it just means it's easier to tell the creeps from the nice people.
posted by MexicanYenta at 5:49 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


MexicanYenta: "However, as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter whether the word is banned or not. Not banning it just means it's easier to tell the creeps from the nice people."

Really? You can define a person as a creep based on the fact they used the word "pussy"?
posted by gman at 5:56 PM on October 26, 2010


I never told anyone what speech to use. --- Despite your repeated protests, it's clear that I'm not the only one who read between the lines for the implied meaning of your post. I suspect that had you just rolled your reaction to the title tag of that post into the other no-no word post from 2 days ago, you might have received more of the discussion you say you were looking for.
posted by crunchland at 5:58 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Really? You can define a person as a creep based on the fact they used the word "pussy"?

Yep. If they think my genitalia is automatically a bad thing and that it is an insult to be hurled at someone, then yep, they're a creep.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:00 PM on October 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


Sorry if I came off sounding like a dick.
posted by gman at 6:03 PM on October 26, 2010


What?!? Does it whistle or something?
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:10 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I vote we ban the letter q, it displeases me.
posted by HFSH at 6:15 PM on October 26, 2010


MexicanYenta: Yep. If they think my genitalia is automatically a bad thing and that it is an insult to be hurled at someone, then yep, they're a creep.

Sad that you are so proud of it, but seem not to even know the name of the thing, really.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:16 PM on October 26, 2010


I automatically categorize adults who use 'pussy' as an insult as sexist fools, and I have to work hard not to find myself expressing contempt for them and starting a big fight. I doubt I could tolerate regular such use in a friend, male or female.

I have always thought of pussy as referring to vulvas rather than vaginas.

It's funny how close it is to the French 'puissant' (meaning roughly strong and forceful) which I've heard is the origin of 'pissant'.
posted by jamjam at 6:19 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Despite your repeated protests, it's clear that I'm not the only one who read between the lines for the implied meaning of your post.

So when your knee jerks, it's the fault of the person it jerks at?
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:21 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's this woman who stands behind me at Seattle Sounders games. Every time an opposition player tumbles to the ground, she inhales deeply, sets herself, and lets out a high-pitched shriek of "Pussy!" Actually, it's not that staccato, it's more like, "Pusssssseeeeeeeeeee!"

Cheap beer spills over the back of me and her Budweiser-breath warms my ear, still ringing from her 5-second banshee wail, every time. And it's soccer, which has a lot of diving assholes in it, so every time is a lot of goddamn times.

I'm not terribly fond of the word and I don't use it much. I don't especially mind when other people do, but it does present me with a stereotype about that person, absent other information. I don't think it's the worst word in the world, and I don't think it's the best or most useful. But that lady makes me want to invent a time machine so I can go back and rewrite the spurious etymologies of the day, then return to the present and have my ears tickled with "Laaaaaaaaaaaaaamb!" But even that more pleasant vowel sound would still turn to broken glass in her nasal shrillness.

So I don't want to ban words, I just want to ban people. On reflection, I'm not sure that's better.
posted by Errant at 6:22 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sad that you are so proud of it, but seem not to even know the name of the thing, really.

Huh? I'm not "proud" of it, any more than I'm proud of my eyeballs. It just...is.

And I know using any of the various names for it as an insult is implying that it's a bad thing. However, if you don't like pussies, that's your prerogative. I do find, though, that most people hate what they fear. Therefore, I say to you - BEHOLD! The Power of the Pussy!

And good grief, this conversation has deteriorated into 7th grade name-calling. Which is where it started out, of course, but there was a fairly good spot in the middle where there was some actual intelligent conversation.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:26 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Other words that should be banned because some women use them to refer to their cooter:

Snatch! Find a new word to tell us if you seize something suddenly with your hands.

Box! Both pugilism and a convenient place to store something.

Gash! If you get cut, you better not use this word to tell us about it.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:37 PM on October 26, 2010


Vagina
Penis
Anus
posted by Balisong at 6:37 PM on October 26, 2010


Oh, I dunno. I'm probably never going to use it here outside of this thread (though I frequently use it when in the company of good friends), but snatch is just funny. I love that it's a verb!
posted by heyho at 6:42 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there a way remove threads from recent activity on the mobile stylesheet? That would nice right about now.
posted by nomadicink at 6:44 PM on October 26, 2010


FWIW, and for the most part, Metafilter is possibly the most civilized community here on the intarwebs, or toobs. If this place was full of rampant use of words like cunt, bitch, faggot, etc. like many places are on the web, then I'd be concerned. But it's not. Somehow, in the last few days, some errant word usage has been singled out, pulled from the many thousands of other really GREAT words that people use here.

Please don't bring the whole place down to some base level because some noobs are still trying to find their way.
posted by snsranch at 6:46 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, someone on Boardwalk Empire has just douched with Lysol. The horror is most timely indeed.
posted by elizardbits at 6:48 PM on October 26, 2010


I don't have a problem with pussy either, when it is a reference to pussy cats. It wasn't, in the title to which I linked.

There isn't a lot of point in discussion of my suspected secret, hidden meaning in what is a pretty straightforward post, which I've re-explained multiple times.

There also isn't much point in discussing innocuous uses of words that no one has indicated are offensive.

So, signing off to hang out with the real Bear in my life. I too appreciated the conversation in the middle of this thread, so thanks for that.
posted by bearwife at 6:49 PM on October 26, 2010


To answer the question, while I don't use those words in daily language, I did not cringe. I find that the mods do amazing and fabulous job of squelching the words and uses that offend me on metafilter. It's my favorite thing about this place.
posted by ldthomps at 6:53 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's ridiculous to ask a hundred thousand people to refrain from using any word. It's. Ridiculous.
posted by pwally at 7:02 PM on October 26, 2010


It's ridiculous to ask a hundred thousand people to refrain from using any word. It's. Ridiculous.

Can you find the moment in this thread when that happened?
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:13 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I see or hear the word "pussy" I actually do picture a scared little cat. I never really make an anatomical connection and have never really experienced the word being used in an anti-woman way, so I don't find it particularly offensive. If others consider it to be a gendered insult, I can respect that their life experience is different from my own and that they are entitled to do so.

On a side note, I noticed that the word "douchebag" was used as an insult on Supernatural on Friday night (in a "guy who is no good for a woman" sense), and "douchey" was used in a similar sense tonight on Glee. If we can accept that sometimes words (being fluid and all) can develop insulting/demeaning connotations, maybe we can also accept that they can evolve past them as well? Please note that I am not holding up these shows as being the definitive word on language (and don't judge me for my shockingly bad taste in TV!)--just noting that the young set seems to have co-opted this terminology and given it a very specific (and non sexist) meaning.
posted by Go Banana at 7:22 PM on October 26, 2010


I miss Mrs Slocombe...
posted by i_cola at 7:29 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


It isn't ridiculous or impossible, I'm totally in favour of the n-word being banned anywhere people feel like it. Also the k-word and various other racial epithets. I just don't think sexual words are anywhere near as gendered as people think, and if they are that it's totally always offensive to use them. I realise metafilter is pretty American and can accept some words like the c-word being banned just on the basis of that, but if it got to a whole list of banned words I just wouldn't bother reading the board because it crosses a line - the 'any reasonable person' line - where any reasonable person dislikes the n-word with some possible exceptions for context, but only some reasonable people dislike the word pussy. It definitely isn't a universal or close to universal peeve in my experience (which might differ for your mileage or geographical location purposes).
posted by shinybaum at 7:29 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perhaps if you are learning a second language you come to a word via a dictionary, even in that instance it is likely you don't. In either case it's more likely you come to your definition of a word via context, experience and inclination.
That is yours then. It may or may not be mine.
Please stop assuming what is mine is yours you fucking language-commie prick.

Metafilter: looks like it's not gendered, as I had presumed.
posted by vapidave at 7:30 PM on October 26, 2010


Comparing numbers of hits on Google for "butthurt rape" versus "butthurt spank" is interesting.

God, I was this close to googling before the CANNOT UNSEE precognition alert kicked in.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:43 PM on October 26, 2010


Can you find the moment in this thread when that happened?

This whole thread is about not using certain words..
posted by pwally at 7:55 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


While I understand the whole idea behind "pussies are soft, dicks are hard," dicks are actually quite soft most of the time, and I'm sick of people calling people "pussies" like vaginas or having one is a negative thing. Annoying and painfully juvenile.
posted by agregoli at 8:13 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whenever I hear someone referred to as being butt-hurt, I always interpret it to mean that the person is acting as if they had been victimized or picked on.

Whether that refers to a spanking or something far more drastic is beyond me, but because of the ambiguity I've always thought it a pretty ugly term.
posted by hermitosis at 8:20 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


For anyone arguing that "pussy" is an ungendered insult, try substituting "kitty" or "feline" in all pejorative uses and see how many sentences still make sense. Then try "dickless" or "eunuch."
posted by dogrose at 8:28 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


This whole thread is about not using certain words..

No. It's about when the usage is appropriate, and where. And that's still not about banning. Nobody has called for it, and that seems to be what everybody is objecting to, which has made this thread into a shitstorm rather than a discussion, which is what bearwife repeatedly said she wanted, and is actually the questions she asks at the start of the thread.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:29 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I once saw a dog pass a mitten that he had eaten."

I once saw a guy on a motorcycle pass a truck.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:38 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


But a discussion about what? And what's so special about this that makes it different from the previous two discussions that we need to hash it out a third time? The post doesn't suggest a concrete change in our behavior, only links to one example (and from a new user, at that, so it isn't necessarily indicative of a bigger trend), and doesn't have a clear complaint. You just flatly ask "does anyone else flinch?"

So I think the shitstorm partly has to do with how this was framed. If you want a discussion, you have to lead it with something more substantial than this.
posted by yaymukund at 8:49 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


That aside, I agree that we could all be more civil and this has nothing, really, to do with censorship.
posted by yaymukund at 8:51 PM on October 26, 2010


dogrose: For anyone arguing that "pussy" is an ungendered insult, try substituting "kitty" or "feline" in all pejorative uses and see how many sentences still make sense. Then try "dickless" or "eunuch."

"He eunuch-footed around the subject." "I wish you wouldn't dickless-foot around it, say what you mean!"

Hey yeah, you're right wrong!
posted by paisley henosis at 8:55 PM on October 26, 2010


For anyone arguing that "pussy" is an ungendered insult, try substituting "kitty" or "feline" in all pejorative uses and see how many sentences still make sense. Then try "dickless" or "eunuch."

That isn't what I mean by ungendered, personally. Ungendered means I don't use it at women in a gendered way, or at men I think are like women, or in a gendered way generally.

Some words are harmful and some are just distasteful. The distasteful ones can be seriously beautiful and people looking down on them seem narrow minded and snobby sometimes. Not that the title of the post was beautiful or arty in any way, but I don't understand the flinching reaction to it either.
posted by shinybaum at 8:58 PM on October 26, 2010


I like to picture my vocabulary as roughly corresponding to the MPAA ratings.

I use my G-rated vocabulary at work, around people I don't know, and around children. It requires me to think at least a few words ahead of my voice.

My PG vocabulary occasionally surfaces at work, but only around people I have heard also using PG words. My boss almost fainted one day when he heard me say "shit" softly under my breath, because in three years he'd never heard me swear.

My R-rated vocabulary is the one I use most of the time, around people I know and am comfortable with. It's my natural voice.

My X-rated vocabulary usually is reserved for driving and golf.

In my head, the word "pussy" belongs in the R ratings, but as I think about it I can't remember the last time I actually said it aloud. I don't ever say the c-word, either, other than actually saying the words "the c-word". It would be an X-rated word. "Butt-hurt" is something I heard my kids' friends saying occasionally when they were still living at home and frankly I don't think I could say it myself without laughing at how absurd it would sound coming from someone more than 18 or 19 years old. It's a PG-13 word and I don't really have a PG-13 voice.

So, as for those few words. I wouldn't normally use any of them IRL, because they're not part of my typical usage patterns, but I do hear them being used on occasion, depending on who I am around, and they don't bother me personally.

I also recognize as I am typing this that even though I picture Metafilter as part of my everyday normal life that I do, in fact, use a different voice here than my normal "R-rated" one, and that a lot of that difference is due to trying to choose my words more precisely because Metafilter has a lot of smart people and I don't want to sound stupid (and also, no doubt, to having the ability to proofread them before sending them out into the world). However, it's also because I have learned from prior discussions here on words and their power to hurt others, and so I try to avoid using that kind of language here. Not always successfully, I'm sure, but I do make a conscious effort.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:23 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd like to state for the record that while I don't love "pussy" as an insult, I like it even less as a sexytime term.

Thanks.
posted by desuetude at 9:29 PM on October 26, 2010


The k-word? I don't think I know that one.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:53 PM on October 26, 2010


> The k-word?

There are two of them, both borne out of misbegotten notions of racial supremacy. Take your pick.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:56 PM on October 26, 2010


DTMFA. Who reads that and doesn't think it refers to a man? It is a cliche even here. Please. Gendered insults are fine if you are insulting a man. Because when men wake up June has a glass of OJ and a Peanut Butter and Privilege sandwich to include with a note of love for all men's invisible knapsack, the birds are singing too. But only men can hear their call.
Gendered insults are sanctioned on AskMe. Officially defended as not being emblematic of our culture. Somehow that makes it right or fair. (I do not want that job, I doubt any consistency would be achievable. Even from a perfectly neutral person. Still I don't like the tenor so I abstain.

It is revenge. It is revenge that has collateral damage.

Some man was mean therefore all men are mean and must pay. Tag, you're it dude. It's a big brush and you are probably worthy of scorn unless you sprout a sympathetic chromosome, and even then you aren't woman or victim enough.

Most men grow up in a single-parent household headed by a woman. Most men have a Mother. Many men have a sibling, likely identified as a sister as a brother.

My wife agrees with the larger point. I doubt most of the persnickety here are or have ever been in a relationship. Or if they are in a relationship then this is the outlet for their frustration.

Women are lame. What the fuck is wrong with you? You have a numerical advantage.
So this complaint is more plaintive. Because women should be winning by now but you can't seem to agree. Why is that?

I mean, go on with yourself and complain about language usage. Or you know, prevail instead.
posted by vapidave at 10:02 PM on October 26, 2010


You realize you're just blithering, yes?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:16 PM on October 26, 2010


Blither is a good and descriptive word. Refute is another.
posted by vapidave at 10:21 PM on October 26, 2010


Keyboard breathalyzer is another word. Or two words, rather. But something to think about.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:22 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


what
posted by klangklangston at 10:29 PM on October 26, 2010


I mean, I know that's not a constructive response, but Jesus, Dave, it feels like this shit has to get explained over and over every fucking time, and I just don't care to have the Remedial Privilege Discussion with you, y'know?

You can't teach French to a pig. Wastes your time and annoys the pig.
posted by klangklangston at 10:30 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Patronize is another word. Uh, If I may oink or oinque' as the case may be: What follows is a paste from an email but I'd appreciate it if you would take the time to read because it is something that I feel strongly about and IMO deserves some consideration:

I was born in 64 and am 46. Half of all males are from single parent families led by women. People tend to be fond of their mothers, a lot of men have sisters. Some of us are married to women. So feminism should easily prevail. It is to the advantage of women and most men born in the last 40 years and anyone with anything resembling a conscience would agree with feminism's goals too. Despite overwhelming numbers, despite it being in the best interest of society, despite Mom ffs feminists have created a culture where you can agree with their goals but if you don't agree enough (this for women and men) you are ostracized. It's a concentric circle with some imaginary perfectly offended person at the center who is the only one that may object.
I hate when because I a white man someone supposes to lecture me about, say, the expense of day care for single mothers when there wasn't any such fucking thing when my parents were divorced in 1969 and I at 5 stayed home alone with my 4 year old sister.

12:52 CST here: (me back) Privilege is a matter of economics, not race or gender.
posted by vapidave at 10:53 PM on October 26, 2010


From where I am.
posted by vapidave at 10:54 PM on October 26, 2010


I'm just sad that "frogshit wild" still hasn't caught on enough to offend anyone yet. :(
posted by Jacqueline at 11:22 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Assorted Thoughts Conjured While Reading Through:

I quite enjoy the second and third seasons of Buffy, but the nouning of 'Big Bad' has always gotten on my tits. Gah, it pisses me off to even type it. Gahhhhh.

I have tits, so it is okay for me to say that, though the word makes me uncomfortable when used to refer to women's breasts.

Butthurt could also be a hemorrhoid reference. [Nods to jonmc]

It's always sort of embarrassing when the people who presumably see themselves as being above or more enlightened than the supposedly whiny, overly-sensitive language nannies come off as waaay whinier and more over-sensitive in these conversations. Embarrassing, yet also very funny.

Fuck off with the 'politically correct' nonsense. That's the shrillest bullshit I usually hear on MeTa, and always provokes a desire to spit in the shrill nonsense bullshit spewer's face, and you're all out of my 14.26 foot range of fire.

My wife and I are only up to episode 3 of Boardwalk Empire.

I think those truffle-hunting pigs probably know some French.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:23 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Or you know, prevail instead."

Yeah, we're on it.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:27 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought the same thing I think when someone IRL says the word: "Well, this person is obviously a low-class, sexist creep, and nothing they say is going to be of any value." And then I leave as soon as possible.

Fuck me, even if nobody is suggesting banning certain words, this kind of reaction is kind of terrifying. Not that I can even remember the last time I used the word "pussy" as a pejorative, but I never had a clue that it was widely perceived (at least on MeTa) as a sexist term. Even though I knew of its anatomical meaning. Since, as others have mentioned, wittle kitty cats have a lot of the negative personality traits associated with the word (weakness, cowardice, etc.) and vaginas don't, since they literally can't. And my (obviously naïve) mind never made the leap from "well, women have vaginas, and these personality traits have been stereotypically associated with woman by the male hegemony, so calling a guy that word must mean that you're saying he's like a woman, which is bad!" It's a million times less intuitive than "boys on the playground/in the office/on the basketball court/in Halo/etc. don't like being compared to a tiny cute fragile animal that cries and gets stuck in trees." But now I know that if I slipped and used the term, it would automatically make me "obviously a low-class, sexist creep"?? I'm super disillusioned -- this whole time, I thought the recurring "pussy" jokes in that 3rd season Arrested Development episode were basically about laughing that the British (in the fictional show) associated that term with different traits of the same animal than Americans.

This isn't even the first time MeFi has taught me that there are entire words I had no clue had offensive connotations (last time it was "buck") but that other users felt very strongly about. And I haven't been the person using these terms yet, but I suppose there's no way for me to know if I'm about to be. So, honestly, I know the suggestion has been laughed down a couple of times already by people saying "you should know what words not to use in a civilized community you dolts," but... is there no place for a list of words to avoid, just in case we don't? I'm not saying write a script that will warn you on preview before you post a comment that includes any no-no words or anything, I just don't want to be seen as low-class and bigoted because I didn't realize that certain (common) words have offensive connotations that I've never simply never learned, you know? It's hard to participate in a conversation as equals if something you said with 150% unimpeachable awareness and intention causes the other person to discount you as an inferior or unworthy person, without you having any understanding of why.

Confession: One year in college I chose the number 88 for my intramural basketball jersey because my high school soccer number was already taken and I had just watched Back to the Future the night before. I had no idea why the Jewish fraternity's team was roughing me up and their fans were booing and spitting at me until after the game when I finally got one of them to explain to me that 88 is a neo-Nazi symbol that stands for "heil Hitler"
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 11:52 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


PareidoliaticBoy: That is NOT whom I was referring to.

I get that you've gracefully bowed out now, and just want to observe that "Language is everything. It's everything" is not such a stretch when, for eg, several comments in here criticize the OP for not framing this post better in the first place. Frankly, I'm much more sympathetic to viewing language as "everything" since I started hanging out at metafilter. The number of FPPs that go down in flames due to poor word choice is wondrous to behold.

On the other hand, it's obvious that language doesn't mean a damn thing when people are determined to read an implicit, totalitarian message into a straightforward request for information.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:58 PM on October 26, 2010


cobra_high_tigers: is there no place for a list of words to avoid

This isn't a quick fix, but I find lurking on demographic-specific "safe space" boards instructive for this. eg at racialicious or feministing, people vent and argue amongst themselves. So lurking lets me pick up on words or expressions that some consider problematic. Not that you'll agree with all the content at such sites, but they can be a helpful window into other peoples' utterly different experiences.

I didn't know about 88 either, until a metafilter thread.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:25 AM on October 27, 2010


And metafilter continues its slide towards turning into Annie Wilkes.

YOU COCKADOODLE DIRTY BIRDS.
posted by seanyboy at 1:15 AM on October 27, 2010


I have compiled a list of words in this post that might offend someone and should thus be removed from metafilter post-haste:

All of them.
posted by stelas at 1:32 AM on October 27, 2010


For people who are arguing that pussy just means a widdle kittycat, do you walk around your workplace telling people not to be such pussies? Do you say it to your kids? Hey, Junior — there's no monster under your bed. Pussy! Have you ever been called a pussy by any casual acquaintance (IRL)? Like, say, your pharmacist? Pah! Ibuprofen is for pussies; take the Exedrin! If not, have you ever thought about why not?

I mean, I adore my awesome girl dog, but if somebody calls me a bitch, I don't assume they mean I'm cute, smart, cuddly, furry and they wuv me vewy vewy much. I'm not about to build a bonfire and start rounding up The Words, but I definitely judge people by the terms they choose, and I'm always taken aback that so many people on MeFi who would never dream of using racist or homophobic insults become really frothingly furious when any discussion of terms that might be offensive to women come up. "Like, yeah, I totally see why I shouldn't use this demeaning hate language, but this other one, noooooooo! It's my preciousssssss and you can't have it!"
posted by taz at 1:55 AM on October 27, 2010 [16 favorites]


These threads always end up reminding me this scene from Dexter.
posted by Memo at 2:51 AM on October 27, 2010


Ah shit. I hate it when I'm late to these threads. It makes me feel like such a knob-end.
posted by Decani at 3:02 AM on October 27, 2010


Hi, let's try not to be dismissive of someone's personal experience.
posted by keli at 10:21 PM on October 26


Okay. Then let's try not to decide that the personal experience of the most dreadfully wounded soul ought to set the standards of behaviour for everyone else. And then, for pity's sake, let's get a sense of proportion.
posted by Decani at 3:08 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


We will always be at war with language.
posted by jessamyn at 10:49 PM on October 26


Well I'm on the defending side. To the death.
posted by Decani at 3:14 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


We will always be at war with language.
I can't wait for the next episode of "Mods Reference 1984 in hilarious but slightly frightening ways"
posted by seanyboy at 4:30 AM on October 27, 2010


It's ridiculous to ask a hundred thousand people to refrain from using any word. It's. Ridiculous.

Can you find the moment in this thread when that happened?
--- Right here.
posted by crunchland at 4:33 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cortex: We'll always have new people. Not all of them will really have the pulse of this place down, so we'll always have situations where without malice someone kind of violates other people's sense of slow progress made. It's more of a "let's see that this isn't a recurring thing" thing than a "how could this happen thing", in other words; this sort of thing will always happen now and then.

My first (and so far, only) post had some sort of a faux-pas (faux-pax? How the hell is that spelled anyway?). I was a newbie, and didn't think about what I was doing (my post contained a link that was hidden by a paywall). I took my lumps and paid attention. And survived.

We are never going to please everyone, and shit's gonna get posted that offends some and is fine by others. It happens. Personally, I hate the term referenced in the FPP. But it seems like our mods have been real busy with more incendiary matters of late, so I'm cool with letting it go.
posted by sundrop at 4:51 AM on October 27, 2010


Women are lame. What the fuck is wrong with you?

Spinal cord injury, 2002.

Wow, happened in this thread.
posted by angrycat at 5:00 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


This isn't even the first time MeFi has taught me that there are entire words I had no clue had offensive connotations (last time it was "buck") but that other users felt very strongly about.

Wait, what? When was this and what the fuck does "buck" mean?
posted by waraw at 5:37 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


here.
posted by taz at 5:59 AM on October 27, 2010


Actually I'm more of butterscotch, not black.
posted by nomadicink at 6:02 AM on October 27, 2010


I didn't know about 88 either, until a metafilter thread.

Had a bit of a shock a few years back when a Jewish friend gave me her email address, which was in the form of name88@gmail.com - maybe I'd spent too much time around skinheads but I thought the association was well-known in the mainstream. The river of culture is so broad and so deep that fish from one side might not know fish from the other side, even though they're just a couple feet apart as the crow flies. That was tortured, must find caffeine

Women are lame. What the fuck is wrong with you?

I'm lame, too (bad genes, 1976) - but I have perpendicularly engorgable dangly bits. Is this one of those "Socrates is dead" things?
posted by jtron at 6:16 AM on October 27, 2010


Tax, a request is not a ban.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:25 AM on October 27, 2010


For people who are arguing that pussy just means a widdle kittycat, do you walk around your workplace telling people not to be such pussies? Do you say it to your kids? Hey, Junior — there's no monster under your bed. Pussy! Have you ever been called a pussy by any casual acquaintance (IRL)? Like, say, your pharmacist? Pah! Ibuprofen is for pussies; take the Exedrin! If not, have you ever thought about why not?

This. I think the claim of "but it means kitty!" is really disingenuous, given how the word is used in real life (as well as in movies, books, comedy shows, and all the other ways we experience language).

I'll be honest and say that it is a word I use... in very, very specific and limited contexts and situations. I'm aware of the word's baggage, and don't use it in ways and in places where it will hurt or discomfort someone. Maybe that makes me a bad person in some eyes here, but that's ok with me; I'm sure that were we to meet in person I'd not be using that word in front of them, either.
posted by Forktine at 6:26 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, that... is a bit of a reach. I searched but could not find a meta discussion. I highly doubt a 95-year old silent film is not informing today's most common usage of the term, especially on mefi, where it seems to be most often used in "20 bucks, same as in town" or "buck up little trooper".
posted by waraw at 6:33 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Frankly, I'm much more sympathetic to viewing language as "everything" since I started hanging out at metafilter.

I think a slightly more accurate way of explaining the situation here is "Language is all we have." That is, in real-life communities, there is a lot more nuance in communication. You can see how people are communicating visually as well as just their words. You can see how others are reacting to them without everyone having to say "That made me feel like this." and you can see over time how the choices people make come back and do or do not serve their own larger agendas, of which there are many.

Here there are people with a lot of different reasons for being here. Many of those reasons aren't clear, or others may be skeptical of them ["Are they here to talk about neat stuff on the web, or do they have some lulzy/trollish agenda?"] and so we have these longish discussions as a way of getting some metacontext to the two-dimensional words we use to communicate.

I was a semantics major in college so I find this sort of thing sort of interesting personally. I understand that other people find these conversations threatening, or tiresome or useless or whatever. I may like them because I feel more secure that we're just talking, that as mods we're not anywhere near the level of "this is a problem" where we'd start implementing any actual policies, and I'm very clear that people are going to do whatever they feel is the right thing to do absent any actual "this is a bannable offense" sort of rule.

I find that these discussions seem to result in a whole lot of "You can't tell ME what to do!" heel-digging-in which I guess I understand at some level but confuses me at another level. Of course people on the internet cant tell you what to do. I think for a lot of us, that's why we like it here. People have to make their own decisions about language, among other things. Having other people's opinions about what words mean can only help us make our decisions more informedly.

DTMFA. Who reads that and doesn't think it refers to a man?

As an example, I have always felt that this acronym was gender neutral and have seen it in plenty of AskMe threads about men and about women. Is my understanding at odds with what other peopel think?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:41 AM on October 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


I definitely judge people by the terms they choose, and I'm always taken aback that so many people on MeFi who would never dream of using racist or homophobic insults become really frothingly furious when any discussion of terms that might be offensive to women come up. "Like, yeah, I totally see why I shouldn't use this demeaning hate language, but this other one, noooooooo! It's my preciousssssss and you can't have it!"

What about if we're not frothingly furious, what if we're just matter of fact about it? I understand that some women are offended by the usage of the term, but I also know that some aren't. I use the word sometimes, and if you want to judge me for it, meh.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:45 AM on October 27, 2010


Is my understanding at odds with what other peopel think?

I'm guessing it started as male oriented, what with the MF part, but yeah, it's not strictly limited to males in AskMe, or even coupled relationships or hetro couples or even AskMe.

All that said, it does seem to mostly be applied to males.

Oddly enough, there are no songs tagged or commented with DTMFA. I could have sworn there was one somewhere...
posted by nomadicink at 7:07 AM on October 27, 2010


For people who are arguing that pussy just means a widdle kittycat, do you walk around your workplace telling people not to be such pussies?

No, but I don't walk around calling them cowards either. To my instinct (and I recognize my instinct is wrong - more on that below), "pussy" in the sense of "coward" is coarse (like "asshole" in the sense of "jerk" is coarse) but not gendered.

I realize that this makes me incredibly naive (judging from the incredulity with which other people's similar statements have been greeted). Probably it results from "pussy" in the sense of "coward" being a common word among my cohort when I was, say, an eight-year-old kid, before I realized the word had a sexual connotation, and I never really explicitly made the connection. In any case, I'll stop using it now, since although I don't mean it in a gendered way, it's clear that many people hear it that way. Hopefully this cause fewer people to assume that nothing I have to say is of any value.
posted by dfan at 7:24 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


> feminists have created a culture where you can agree with their goals but if you don't agree enough (this for women and men) you are ostracized. It's a concentric circle with some imaginary perfectly offended person at the center who is the only one that may object.

This is paranoid bullshit, and you have no idea what feminism is about.

> I have always felt that this acronym was gender neutral and have seen it in plenty of AskMe threads about men and about women. Is my understanding at odds with what other people think?

No, that is my understanding as well.
posted by languagehat at 7:32 AM on October 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


There's an "offensive/sexism/racism" flag. Yes, I know it should be "offensive/sexist/racist", but it's still a usable flag.
posted by pracowity at 7:33 AM on October 27, 2010


feminists have created a culture where you can agree with their goals but if you don't agree enough (this for women and men) you are ostracized.

Generally speaking, this is true. However, all groups do this to some extent, so it just proves feminists are people too, WIN WIN.
posted by nomadicink at 7:42 AM on October 27, 2010


> Generally speaking, this is true.

If by "generally speaking" you mean "for values of feminists and you greater than zero but less than anyone would pay attention to unless they were looking for an excuse to trash feminism."
posted by languagehat at 7:48 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


For people who are arguing that pussy just means a widdle kittycat, do you walk around your workplace telling people not to be such pussies?

In my workplace? Yes.
posted by empath at 7:49 AM on October 27, 2010


Although people also break wind loudly and wiff it over the cubicles too. It's pretty much a boyzone in here.
posted by empath at 7:50 AM on October 27, 2010


"DTMFA" is definitely an equal opportunity dumping.
posted by taz at 7:55 AM on October 27, 2010


taz: If not, have you ever thought about why not?

Oh, come on. Because I'm not an asshole, not because the word has some kind of clearly sexist connotation. I don't walk around calling my coworkers, hypothetical kids, or doctors "dickheads" either, but it's not because that one's offensive to men. It's because it's a rude thing to call people, which is also how I considered the use of the word "pussy" we're discussing, even prior to this thread. The analogy to "bitch" is pretty inapposite, since that word's been used for god knows how long to malign actual women, and its non-slang literal definition inherently refers to a female member of a species. As far as I know, "pussy" as an insult doesn't have a history of being applied exclusively to women before being applied to men as some kind of gender-reversal slight, and cats can be either gender.

I don't know if you were responding to me. On the one hand, your post came shortly after I said truthfully that I didn't realize how widely that word was understood to have sexist implications, but on the other hand I was never "frothingly furious" and I never clutched Gollum-like to the word "pussy" (like I said, I can't even remember the last time I used it in the pejorative sense. Probably grade school). But seeing you say "I definitely judge people by the terms they choose" put me on the defensive, since you just dismissed the idea that people may have never imagined the negative connotations that you associate with the term.

I mean, if there are some words that are so awful to use that there is no excuse for not even knowing that they're awful, even if you'd never heard that before in your life, it would be nice to at least have a list somewhere so that we'd know not to use them in advance, prior to being judged. (cybercoitus, I haven't had a chance to look deeply into the blogs that you recommended yet, but thanks for the tip. I will look for this kind of information there when I have a little while to dig into them)
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 8:03 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


When did this place get taken over by effing school marms?

Who're are too prim to say "fuck," apparently.
posted by applemeat at 8:15 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks jessamyn, "language is all we have" makes sense.

Oh hey cobra_high_tigers, I just found a list for sexual slurs and here's a wikipedia list of ethnic slurs. The ethnic one has the pejorative meaning of "buck" that I'm most familiar with, referring to North American Indian men.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:18 AM on October 27, 2010


Sorry about that, cobra — I really wasn't responding mostly to you. You were just the latest to make the kitty comment, and I did notice that you said you don't even really use the term. When I said I do judge people by the terms they use — there, I was mostly answering you, but not judging you! Your comment was useful and a contribution to the discussion.

Anyway, to all, I just came across a masterful insult from the wonderchicken: fuck their eyeballs with giant sandpaper Hitler horsecocks.

Love. No races, genders, or sexual orientations were harmed in the the making of this insult, and equines only slightly inconvenienced. Bravo!!!
posted by taz at 8:22 AM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Maybe if "language is all we have," some of us could all try to be a little more careful, and not interpret sexism and racism where it isn't and wasn't intended.
posted by crunchland at 8:30 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


sexism and racism where it isn't and wasn't intended.

And maybe other can be cautious when they discover they've been using language that has connotations they didn't realize. Oh, but wait -- I forgot that asking somebody to be civil and responsible in their use of language is tantamount to censorship, but responding to such requests with jerked knees and a flood of deliberately offensive language and mockery is totally critic and not at all a silencing tactic.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:36 AM on October 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Let me clearer, you defenders of free speech: This thread is a mess because, for all your supposed stance against censorship, you're perfectly happy to aggressively try to shut down a discussion you don't want to have. The behavior in here has been aggressive and derisive -- not the mark of somebody who wants to cure bad speech with more and better speech, but instead the mark of somebody who just wants to shut somebody else up. From where I'm sitting, it doesn't look like your real concern is to protect speech, but to protect privilege.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:44 AM on October 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I didn't know about 88 either, until a metafilter thread.

Fuck.
posted by rocket88 at 8:45 AM on October 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Thanks for your understanding, taz, and for your links, cybercoitus interruptus. And at the end of my last comment I wanted to say something that was basically a combination of crunchland's most recent comment and the first sentence of Astro Zombie's, but couldn't come up with a good way of putting it succinctly. So thank you guys for doing it for me!
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 8:47 AM on October 27, 2010


At 333 comments, I don't think anyone is trying to shut down any discussion. Aggressive and derisive, perhaps, but on both sides if you're going to be completely impartial. And while it is about privilege, it's not really about free speech, but about individual responsibility, and whether or not you're willing to stop using a word because someone flinched when they read it.
posted by crunchland at 9:09 AM on October 27, 2010


and whether or not you're willing to stop using a word because someone flinched when they read it.

I guess my question for you is are you going to go ahead and use it anyway? Is it a word that you use frequently on MetaFilter?

Or is this all theoretical? Because it strikes me as pretty theoretical, as I have said earlier -- that there aren't people on MetaFilter who regularly call each other pussies, and it's not really part of our collective vocabulary on this site, and if it did start getting used regularly (like "I'd hit it" was), the mods would step in.

This is what makes me think it's not about defending free speech, but rather a response of "how dare you get offended by anything I might choose to say whenever I want to say it?"

And that reeks of privilege asserting itself.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:16 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


If it's a word that's hardly used, then what's all the fuss about in the first place?

If you want to get right down to it, it's two competing privileges. This is about a small subset of people protesting the behavior of the rest, and trying to assert their influence, and the whole mindset that the rest of the world must strive to adopt their sensibilities and morality.
posted by crunchland at 9:24 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Aggressive and derisive, perhaps, but on both sides if you're going to be completely impartial.

Do you really feel that they are completely even?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:29 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is about a small subset of people protesting the behavior of the rest, and trying to assert their influence, and the whole mindset that the rest of the world must strive to adopt their sensibilities and morality.

No it isn't. Have you read the thread? This is not about policing behavior, but raising questions about behavior and then asking people to police themselves. Which is the very definition of individual responsibility.

You're trying to make this about some sort of PC war to keep you from saying what you want. If you believe this is the case, please go back in the thread and locate the comments that back this up. Particularly comments from bearwife, who, after all, started the thread.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:31 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


As a sign of solidarity with crunchland, I shall henceforth address him as Fuckface McShitbreath*. Any objections from wiener minorities or attempts by PC thug cliques to impose their sensibilities or morals upon me shall be strenuously resisted.

*A term of endearment in my neck of the woods.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:32 AM on October 27, 2010


If it's a word that's hardly used, then what's all the fuss about in the first place?

I dunno. Bearwife raised the question because it was the title of a post, the mods said they let it slide because it was the poster's first time and they there are multiple ways to address this, but made it pretty clear they didn't necessarily approve of the post's title, and then a chorus of "How dare you's" descended like the swallows coming back to Capistrano. Seems like the first two parts of this series of events could have been the start and end of it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:35 AM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I use the word sometimes, and if you want to judge me for it, meh.

We're agreed, then: you'll freely use a term that disparages women as a group, and I'll freely --- oh so freely! --- disparage you for that choice.
posted by Elsa at 9:44 AM on October 27, 2010


Has this thread helped or harmed the community? If it has harmed it, has it caused more or less harm than the rare use of "pussy" on this site? And if it has, does it matter?

I'd say it's caused short-term harm, in that there are now a lot more pissed-off, aggro people. I doubt it has much long-term effect.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:49 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


This thread is a mess because, for all your supposed stance against censorship, you're perfectly happy to aggressively try to shut down a discussion you don't want to have.

First they came for the cunts...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:52 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seems like the first two parts of this series of events could have been the start and end of it

That would have worked for me.

But there's been some interesting discussion in this huge thread, too, so that is fine from my point of view too. I am also more educated than when I started about the history of the word I brought up for discussion, as well as having learned things I did not know before about the words "niggardly" and the number 88.

I do, however, respectfully disagree with your insistence, crunchland, that the fact that I posted this question means that I advocated at any point for censorship or tried to "assert my influence" or presented a "mindset that the rest of the world must strive to adopt [my] sensibilities and morality." And there's no evidence or factual basis for those claims in anything I said, either.
posted by bearwife at 9:52 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mark my word, bearwife, the next time we have a discussion about language, "niggardly" will come up. It's a perennial.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:58 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


McShitbreath

A registered trademark of the McDonald's Corporation.
posted by found missing at 9:58 AM on October 27, 2010


Can our next MeTa be about how people that primarily self-identify as their spouse's other make me wince?
posted by entropicamericana at 10:04 AM on October 27, 2010


Can our next MeTa be about how people that primarily self-identify as their spouse's other make me wince?

Oooh! How about people who post photos of their (albeit adorable) children on FaceBook as their own profile picture?

Hi, I haven't talked to you in ten years, is that really you? Really? You've... shrunk.
posted by sonika at 10:07 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can our next MeTa be about how people that primarily self-identify as their spouse's other make me wince?

Please don't do that.
posted by nomadicink at 10:10 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think instead it'll be about awkward, ill-advised, halting attempts at humor, and how they make me wince, instead.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:14 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can our next MeTa be about how people that primarily self-identify as their spouse's other make me wince?


Given that how someone SELF-identifies is really no one's business but theirs, can we please not?
posted by bardophile at 10:14 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Given how someone speaks is really no one's business but theirs, why are we having this thread?
posted by entropicamericana at 10:17 AM on October 27, 2010


Has this thread helped or harmed the community? If it has harmed it, has it caused more or less harm than the rare use of "pussy" on this site? And if it has, does it matter?

[note: this is an expansion on your comment, not an attack.]

As we ask ourselves the question "Has this helped or harmed the community?" it's valuable to keep in mind that different members of the community have different experiences of the community, and will use different yardsticks to measure good and bad.

In my view, it's important to speak up when I see or hear incidents of casual misogyny, or (and this appears to be a crucial distinction in this thread) when I hear something sounds to me like an incident of casual misogyny, just as it's important to speak up when I perceive incidents of other forms of bigotry, or to listen when someone else asserts that they have seen incidents of bigotry which my privilege has kept me from seeing.

I dislike the word "pussy" as it's used in the example linked to here, and (etymology aside) I perceive it as misogynistic and therefore bad for the community --- or at least, bad for me and others like me within the community.

I'm not suggesting that the word be banned, or indeed that any word be banned. I will, however, speak up when I notice [misogynistic/ racist/ homophobic] language used here, because to not speak up and make my objection heard is to silently accept offensive language, to allow [misogyny, homophobia, racism, bigotry] to become normalized and acceptable.

So, in my view, this thread has helped the community -- or, at least, it has helped me feel welcome within the community, and in all likelihood, it has helped other community members who have chosen to remain silent but who are also angered or saddened by the normalizing of misogynistic language.
posted by Elsa at 10:18 AM on October 27, 2010 [15 favorites]


Given how someone speaks is really no one's business but theirs, why are we having this thread?

How is it no one's business but theirs when they're speaking to other people?
posted by katillathehun at 10:19 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given how someone speaks is really no one's business but theirs

I don't accept your assumption. When people speak in a community forum, how they speak is of considerable interest.

people that primarily self-identify as their spouse's other

Clearly you don't know me. At all. My spouse would be the first to tell you how wrong you are.

Do you also think AZ primarily self identifies as a zombie?
posted by bearwife at 10:21 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Given how someone speaks is really no one's business but theirs, why are we having this thread?

That doesn't even make sense.

Do you also think AZ primarily self identifies as a zombie?

Of course, he's an astro zombie.
posted by nomadicink at 10:23 AM on October 27, 2010


Mark my word, bearwife, the next time we have a discussion about language, "niggardly" will come up. It's a perennial.

I'd hedge that a bit and say only that the next time the word "niggardly" comes up it will be in a discussion about language. It's a word whose expressive usefulness in neutral contexts as a way to communicate "stingy" is dwarfed, in modern usage, by it's rhetorical usefulness in metalinguistic contexts to make some point or another about near-homonyms, racial epithets, censorship, situational awareness, and so on.

I don't have time to dig into it at the moment, but I think it'd be interesting to take a look through the few hundred or so uses of "niggardly" on metafilter in the last ten years or so and track which proportion of them appear to be neutral uses-for-its-own sake vs. various uses or mentions of it in a metalinguistic context—overtly discussing the word's controversial status, unpacking its etymology, slyly referencing it in response to an existing usage situation in a thread, etc.

I'll wager a shiny new joke account that the the vast majority of citations would be the latter sort, if someone else feels like doing the slog.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:23 AM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Given how someone speaks is really no one's business but theirs, why are we having this thread?

This is not a given. In your secret journal, it's a given. In a community context, it's manifestly not. We're having this thread because a member of this community wanted to talk about it. That's pretty straightforward stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:26 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I use the word sometimes, and if you want to judge me for it, meh.

We're agreed, then: you'll freely use a term that disparages women as a group, and I'll freely --- oh so freely! --- disparage you for that choice.

Oh, it has to be "freely"? Man, then I'm afraid we're not in agreement at all. I wanted to use the word against my better judgment and under penalty of law, and I wanted you to disparage me begrudgingly, in a tone normally reserved for 7-year-olds thanking their grandmothers for itchy Christmas sweaters.

I will have none of this freely nonsense.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:27 AM on October 27, 2010


I'm going to go ahead and pass on responding further because I don't want to get drawn into a flamewar. I really need to learn to not read MeTa. Go ahead and call my a kitty, a coward, or whatever.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:28 AM on October 27, 2010


You're such a goddamned whatever.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:29 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can our next MeTa be about how people that primarily self-identify as their spouse's other make me wince?

No. Don't be a jerk.

I was thinking on my way out to lunch that what I'd love to see as a MeFi app would be a view of certain threads [probably the ones on more touchy topics, and maybe every MeTa thread] where people could rank every comment. So basically you could do a +/0/- thing: this helps the site, this is neutral, this harms the site. And then the individual comments would get shaded based on that, and you could eyeball a thread and see, by shading, when stuff started to go wrong and the ebb and flow of a thread, how it does down, how it flares up. Who is doing the flaring, how predictable that is, who is good at calming things down, who is not.

This is not something I'd want in a mod toolbox, but sort of a geeky post-processing "well, how did that go?" sort of thing in an alternative MeFi universe where we were building it from the ground up. I like the idea of data visualization and seeing a thread as a continuous indicator of how people are getting along. I'm sure for different people the "this is where things started going wrong" point is completely different, and that would be interesting to see as well. I know that some people don't feel that they're actively harming the site, but I suspect that there are some people whose presence in a tricky thread almost ensures it going to hell at least temporarily. Comparing and contrasting different people's view of exactly the same words would be interesting. I know for me it's sort of how I view these threads already, sort of colorfully going better or worse, running hot and cold, with visible shifts in the overall zeitgeist of the thing based on fairly specific things people say.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:30 AM on October 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


Oh, it has to be "freely"? Man, then I'm afraid we're not in agreement at all. I wanted to use the word against my better judgment and under penalty of law, and I wanted you to disparage me begrudgingly, in a tone normally reserved for 7-year-olds thanking their grandmothers for itchy Christmas sweaters.

I WILL NOT BE YOUR GRANDMOTHER! But I will offer you a sugar cookie and let you take a nap on my sofa. Deal?
posted by Elsa at 10:32 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


dwarfed

Really, cortex? Dwarfed? I mean you do realize that our pal THE SUN is a dwarf, right?
posted by Mister_A at 10:34 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll wager a shiny new joke account that the the vast majority of citations would be the latter sort, if someone else feels like doing the slog.

I'd take that wager, but I'm a bit niggardly with my joke accounts.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:36 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do, however, respectfully disagree with your insistence, crunchland, that the fact that I posted this question means that I advocated at any point for censorship or tried to "assert my influence" or presented a "mindset that the rest of the world must strive to adopt [my] sensibilities and morality." And there's no evidence or factual basis for those claims in anything I said, either. --- Then what were your motivations? Was it to try and see what involuntary reactions the rest of us have to external stimuli? I mean, I shiver every time I hear Barry White sing, but I never thought to make Metatalk post about it.
posted by crunchland at 10:36 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you also think AZ primarily self identifies as a zombie?

I AM FIRST AND FOREMOST AN AMERICAN.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:37 AM on October 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


Go ahead and call my a kitty, a coward, or whatever.
You big jessie, as they say where I come from.
Which on reflection is probably gendered too, as it's normally a girl's name round our way, though maybe the etymology is something obscure and interesting instead.
posted by Abiezer at 10:38 AM on October 27, 2010


You big jessie

:(
posted by jtron at 10:40 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Then what were your motivations?

She has repeatedly and explicitly stated her motivations: to open the topic to discussion. You've not only decided she has motivations you have not demonstrated, but now your essentially accusing her of misleading when she has expressed her purpose. Is it that you disbelieve her -- in which case, the onus is on your to make your case -- or is it that you just didn't read her comments in the thread?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:40 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


But I will offer you a sugar cookie and let you take a nap on my sofa. Deal?

Deal. I will even make sure there are no crumbs on the sofa after the nap. I'M THAT NICE
posted by 23skidoo at 10:42 AM on October 27, 2010


is there no place for a list of words to avoid, just in case

I was once paid well for two weeks of building a list of offensive words. After the first few days, all the easy stuff had been found, and I had to start on intentional likely misspellings and foreign curses. That was a fun job. I kind of wish I'd kept a copy of that list. We added new words to the list occasionally. By the time I left, I think it was up above 5000 entries.
posted by nomisxid at 10:42 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


You big jessie

Surely this...
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:45 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


You big jessie

That's actually quite a compliment.
posted by nomadicink at 10:45 AM on October 27, 2010


Then what were your motivations?

Crunchland, I've stated them repeatedly in this thread. (And I said how I feel in the douchebag thread, too.)

One last time: I don't flinch at these words because they aren't said well or are malaprops or are deployed with bad grammar. That's why your analogy about Betty White's bad singing doesn't seem applicable to me. Rather, the word at issue and the others I put in the tags make me flinch because I'm a woman, discrimination on the basis of gender isn't abstract or imaginary for me, and these words have been used during the time I've been alive as gendered and as derogatory.

Now, here's a question for you: why is it a problem if I say that? Assuming I don't ask for censorship or a set of rules or some other restriction of other people's decision to use these words, what is the problem with me saying I dislike this kind of word, and asking other people if they feel the same or differently?
posted by bearwife at 10:49 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Apologies jtron and jessamyn. If it helps, it always seemed more affectionate and encouraging than an insult but maybe I was lucky with my friends.
posted by Abiezer at 10:56 AM on October 27, 2010


Interesting that people are happy to only ignore etymology to a certain point. "it originally meant (x) " is a non-valid argument, but " it meant (y) a bit ago" is ok.

If I call someone a pussy or a cunt or a dick or a douche, I'm generally using the word in a non-gendered way. It's meant that way, and people on metafilter are smart enough not to be pushed towards sexism by my use of the word.

There's been too much emphasis (in my opinion) on how words could be interpreted, and too little on what the motivation of the writer is. Sometimes you've got to put the perceived slight to one side and trust that people are just swearing because swearing is fun.
posted by seanyboy at 10:57 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


too little on what the motivation of the writer is.

There's a very good reason for this: I don't know what their motivation is. I can try to infer, but people are actually pretty terrible at that. So I just go by people's behavior, and, if that's not what they intended, they can clarify when the issue comes up.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:04 AM on October 27, 2010


Astro Zombie: "She has repeatedly and explicitly stated her motivations: to open the topic to discussion. "

But there's no need to open the topic to discussion. We've had at least three long threads about this in the past week.
posted by yaymukund at 11:12 AM on October 27, 2010


Just because you don't feel the need doesn't mean somebody else might not. I would suggest that people who feel this topic has been over-addressed simply steer clear of these sorts of threads.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:14 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


But there's no need to open the topic to discussion. We've had at least three long threads about this in the past week.

Other people have made that observation. Clearly, there is no need for you to comment here.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:22 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now, here's a question for you: why is it a problem if I say that? Assuming I don't ask for censorship or a set of rules

I can't speak for others, but this kind of 'question' gets under my skin because I don't believe you when you say you're not asking for a change in behavior. However coercive you think 'we' should be to effect the change, the motivation for stating your opinion seems obvious; you want something that offends you to be stopped, and since you can't stop some people from being dismissive jerks in their heads, you must be hoping to target their behavior, in this case, the language that they use.

She has repeatedly and explicitly stated her motivations: to open the topic to discussion.

And that explicit statement reads as disingenuous to me; there's a purpose to the discussion, to affect future behavior. To deny that is to be dishonest about your motivations.
posted by nomisxid at 11:29 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


But there's no need to open the topic to discussion. We've had at least three long threads about this in the past week.

Hmmm. Logic? If it were worth a topic worth discussing, there wouldn't be so many people talking about it in so many threads!
posted by taz at 11:29 AM on October 27, 2010


Out of curiosity: Why exactly does a non-coercive request for change get under your skin?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:30 AM on October 27, 2010


Just because you don't feel the need doesn't mean somebody else might not. I would suggest that people who feel this topic has been over-addressed simply steer clear of these sorts of threads.

But if the people who feel the topic has been over-addressed steer clear of these sort of threads they won't change their speech patterns, and thus you'll just end up with Meta posts about those speech patterns, which they won't visit, which means more bad words, which argh vicious circle.

For these threads to have any meaning, and given what their creators are requesting, they aren't 'discussions'; rather, it's being suggested that everyone reads it and alters their behaviour in order to prevent heartache in future - which, ipso facto, makes it a request for a global ban of that word. Anything else and it's empty discussion that just goes around in circles, especially if the targets aren't present because you've said they should move on.
posted by stelas at 11:36 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Once again, I am amazed that people who are so opposed to banning the use of certain words sound as though they are in favor of banning entire topics of discussion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:38 AM on October 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


I mean, maybe they aren't, but that ipso facto cuts both ways.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:38 AM on October 27, 2010


I skipped the last 20 posts or so, so I'll have to catch up on those ones, but I just had to point out that "buck" is not the same thing as saying "black buck", it's kind of stupid to equate the two--I can't believe that ever was a "thing" to argue about. I think sometimes we get a little hung up on language but at the same time, these language debates are probably the most interesting part of MetaFilter for me.

I am usually on the side of not censoring words (not that anyone here is saying that we are going to censor anything) in general, although I think we can all agree that there are certain words that, outside of "academic" discussion, we ought to avoid altogether--such as certain racial epithets, certain gendered sexist insults, and remarks about one's sexuality. I think we can all agree that ad hominem attacks and childish name-calling is not really appropriate for this site, although some times people get worked up and will call someone a name ("idiot!", etc.) and, usually, will regret it later.

Regarding the term "pussy": I honestly wasn't taken aback or shocked by its use, since it's used pretty regularly in general colloquial talk and pop culture ('though usually by kids and teens). It's not the nicest term to use and it does have some underlying sexist/gendered baggage (as someone mentioned earlier--think about whether or not you would use it at work or with your children). However, I tend to look at the context surrounding the use of words. I find that most often, it's the intent (or perceived intent) surrounding word use that will often determine whether or not that word is offensive, bearing in mind that there are certain words that are always offensive regardless of context (except for a few exceptions, such as discussing the offensiveness of the term itself) or when people use a term not understanding how offensive it is.

Personally, I tend not to use the word "pussy" because I think it's pretty crass, and I would only using it if I intended on being crass and offensive (I think the only person I would use that word on is my big brother, when we tease eachother). I wasn't shocked by the use of the word because the OP wasn't calling anybody in particular a "pussy" so I don't think there was any intent to harm and I think it's one of those words that can be "neutral" or contextual, but I also understand how it can be seen as offensive to some, especially those of the female variety.

Anyways, that's my personal view. I still reserve the right to swear because, damn it, sometimes you need to say "fuck" or refer to someone as a "douchebag".
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:39 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the premise that we're just having a discussion about word usage is kind of disingenuous. The person who is offended obviously has the upper hand in any discussion of whether a given term is offensive. They can always make noises like anyone who isn't offended is a troglodyte (sorry, caveperson!) who just doesn't get it. The offended side never comes around and says "Oh, I guess there wasn't anything to be offended about in the first place."

This is exactly what happened here, and it is what has happened in all the other "I find this offensive" Metatalk threads.

I tend to come down on the side that if you are a person who is offended, maybe you shouldn't things so seriously, particularly with something like the usage that kicked off this thread. If you squint at it, sure you can get all offended, but where does that leave you? Unless you have a good time being all offended, and there's nothing wrong with that. Me, I'm more of a live and let live kind of person.

So, maybe all the people who get offended at these kinds of things are just having fun in their own little offended way.

I'm glad we had this talk.
posted by jefeweiss at 11:41 AM on October 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


May I ask a question: Did you read any part of this thread at all?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:42 AM on October 27, 2010


and may I ask why you feel the need to take on every single person in this thread who posts a view which isn't in line with the OP's? It's a bit much, dude.
posted by gman at 11:48 AM on October 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Abeizer: no worries; I'd just never heard it before and thought it was funny that my first name was an insult
posted by jtron at 11:49 AM on October 27, 2010


Once again, I am amazed that people who are so opposed to banning the use of certain words sound as though they are in favor of banning entire topics of discussion.

I think you missed the point where I asserted that these posts aren't discussions, they're calls for bans. What is the point in a thread like this being a 'discussion' if you also allow that anyone who doesn't like them should move on, or that there are no consequences? It doesn't solve anything or even do anything bar take up space - those causing the problem will move on and continue to cause the problem, while those in the thread will hold hands and continue to be upset at the language those ignoring the thread are using. If you want a change to the language used in MeFi you either have to want a global response or an official response. A partial response isn't going to be of any help. From that, to effect meaningful change rather than flag-it-and-move-on, you've got to be looking for a ban.

I don't particularly have a horse either way in this race because I just blink past swearwords, I'm just confused as to this insistense that this is a discussion rather than anything else - it doesn't seem like it'd ever get you anywhere.
posted by stelas at 11:49 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh for fuck's sake, I meant in this MeTa.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:49 AM on October 27, 2010


but this kind of 'question' gets under my skin because I don't believe you when you say you're not asking for a change in behavior.

there's a purpose to the discussion, to affect future behavior. To deny that is to be dishonest about your motivations.


Well, then, here is where we do agree. There isn't any point in talking if you are saying I'm a liar and I'm saying that I'm not.

I stand by all my statements. I absolutely deny your claims about my motivation.

And there probably isn't more to say unless you are as willing to treat what I say in good faith I am to accept what you say.

Let me know if the time comes that your premise isn't my dishonesty, and I'll be glad to talk.
posted by bearwife at 11:50 AM on October 27, 2010


and may I ask why you feel the need to take on every single person in this thread who posts a view which isn't in line with the OP's?

I make comments when I have what I feel are salient points to make. But you're right -- at this moment, I am just repeating what I had to say over and over again, because new people are popping in and making the same points others had made earlier on. It's a drag for me too, and so I shall bow out.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:58 AM on October 27, 2010


Out of curiosity: Why exactly does a non-coercive request for change get under your skin?

The request is not what gets under my skin, it's the seemingly intentional deceptiveness of claiming it's not a request for change. The claim that bearwife created this thread without hopes for a change in behavior rings false to me. If you want people to change, say so up front. Even if I disagree with your position, I'll have far more respect when you are honest about your intentions.

To be clear, I think many people use insulting language as a lazy shortcut to avoid having to craft an argument, and as such I'm fine with people being called out for said laziness of rhetoric. On the other hand, I can't help but think of the scene in From The Hip, where Judd Nelson gets a judge to grant him a hearing on the admissibility of the word "asshole".

Stormy: You don't want me to use that word, then give me a different word, one that describes the exact sort of slime my opposing counsel's client oozes, as well as this one.
Opposing Counsel: jerk?
Judge: With all due respect counselor, you're making his point for him
--paraphrased

Some words have special powers because of their offensive connotations. I get just as annoyed at people who falsely claim to be oblivious to those.
posted by nomisxid at 12:06 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


AZ, just because "new people are popping in and making the same points" doesn't mean their points aren't valid. You've had more than your share of making your OWN point. Other people, though they may be repeating sentiments already stated, are stating their agreement or disagreement with previous posts re: the perceived offensiveness of the word, which is what the OP specifically asked us to do.

So if your point is that the OP is not attempting to request a ban, and simply wanting to discuss the perceived offensiveness of the word "pussy" as she claims to (and you back up), then it is perfectly legit for people to come in here and say "I disagree, I don't find that word offensive at all." Just because you happen to disagree with them, doesn't make their personal views any less valid.

Thank you.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:09 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


There isn't any point in talking if you are saying I'm a liar and I'm saying that I'm not.

That's kind of my point; I don't see how you could have posted this with the "just discussion" motivation, without knowing some people would view that (whatever your actual motivations) as dishonest, and so I don't understand what you think could have come out of this post other than the standard talking-past-each-other that happened the last several times this general subject came up.
posted by nomisxid at 12:14 PM on October 27, 2010


Can our next MeTa be about how Rick Springfield primarily identifies Jessie's girl as Jessie's girl and that makes me wince?

The point is probably moot.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:18 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's Jessie's girl.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:22 PM on October 27, 2010


I posted it because the word bothers me and I was interested to know if it bothered others. The post on the blue to which I cited was a long thread by the time I saw the title, and no one in the thread had mentioned the choice of words in the title.

And the answers have been very interesting in this thread, when people have answered my original question. I've learned a lot about how people view this word and how and when they use it.

I also don't agree with you that people just talk past each other on these threads. I think there have been some very good discussions in past ones, including the douchebag threads. Yes, some people do that, but plenty engage.

And no, I don't assume people think I'm dishonest. I'm still flummoxed at why you and crunchland insist I am.
posted by bearwife at 12:22 PM on October 27, 2010


I'd hedge that a bit and say only that the next time the word "niggardly" comes up it will be in a discussion about language.

This is because it's an outstanding example of what happens when uninformed people make worst-case assumptions about the meaning of a word.

We've seen milder examples in this very thread. A few people claim to use it as "scaredycat; a few claim its derived from a non-sexist French word; and others claim that they outright dismiss the value of anyone who uses the word. Which itself is a pretty extreme position to take.

The "niggardly" debacle is our "pussy" thread writ large and in real life. Of course it's going to be mentioned in these sorts of threads.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:22 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think you missed the point where I asserted that these posts aren't discussions, they're calls for bans.

That assertion is objectively false. Nowhere in the original post nor in the discussion that has followed has bearwife asked for any word to be banned. I've no doubt whatsoever that she'd prefer to hear the word "pussy" less often than she does. I sort of agree that it's not unreasonable to infer that she might hope to see less usage of the word on metafilter as a result of the discussion that she's started. But so fucking what? There is a difference between asking people to do something of their own free will, and absent any coercive force and "banning". Every post I've read in this thread defending the right to hypothetically use the word "pussy" every once in a while, seems to have missed the distinction.

And note well: bearwife hasn't actually asked anyone not to use the word. She's said how she feels about it and asked for a community discussion. I'm not so nuanced, so I'll be the one to ask. MF members: please don't use the word "pussy" as an insult. It makes you sound like a moronic seventh grader.
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:46 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sensitivity to register is a vital social skill.

Language use carries a huge freight of attitude and affiliation, some of it deliberate, some unintended. It's not just a question of protecting the easily offended.

If something I'm saying strikes you as crass, bigoted, prissy, annoyingly precise, cutesy, business-jargony, or otherwise jarring, that's interesting and potentially useful information for me. I might or might not change, but all in all I'd like to know about it.

Incidentally, it was a revelation to me that some people don't hear "douchebag" as gendered, and that some people do hear DTMFA that way. Good, useful information.

It's a perfectly reasonable thing to talk about, and I'm glad bearwife brought it up.
posted by tangerine at 12:46 PM on October 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


This is because it's an outstanding example of what happens when uninformed people make worst-case assumptions about the meaning of a word.

That rather conveniently excuses a whole lot of the people involved in such discussions. "Niggardly" is a lot like "McDonalds coffee lady"—it's a complicated touchstone that a lot of people make simplistic reference to from various angles as if the actual complications that make their personal position less than a slam-dunk don't exist.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:00 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not so nuanced, so I'll be the one to ask. MF members: please don't use the word "pussy" as an insult. It makes you sound like a moronic seventh grader.

As someone who uses the word "pussy" as an insult, including an insult in a request to change my language is going to make me not take you seriously. I have friends who have asked me to curb my language around them, and sometimes I will, for reasons like "that word just bothers me, and I can't explain why" to "I am religious and that usage offends me" to "There is too much baggage related to that word for me to be comfortable with people using it."

But if your reason for me changing how I talk is because you think it makes me look stupid? That's just an insult, it's not a reason to change. You think I sound dumb when I use the word? Fine.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:01 PM on October 27, 2010


We're dicks! We're reckless, arrogant, stupid dicks. And the Film Actors Guild are pussies. And Kim Jong Il is an asshole. Pussies don't like dicks, because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes: assholes that just want to shit on everything. Pussies may think they can deal with assholes their way. But the only thing that can fuck an asshole is a dick, with some balls. The problem with dicks is: they fuck too much or fuck when it isn't appropriate — and it takes a pussy to show them that. But sometimes, pussies can be so full of shit that they become assholes themselves... because pussies are an inch and half away from ass holes. I don't know much about this crazy, crazy world, but I do know this: If you don't let us fuck this asshole, we're going to have our dicks and pussies all covered in shit!
posted by Biru at 1:12 PM on October 27, 2010


Ewh.
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:17 PM on October 27, 2010


People quoting that speech is one of the many things that I don't much like Team America for.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:20 PM on October 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hmm. I guess in my head there's a big, big difference between " you sound stupid" and "you are stupid". On one side of that line is an outright insult, and on the other side is an admittedly harshly-phrased warning that I personally tend to read certain language as both immature and ignorant. Not that anyone needs to give half a damn what I in particular think, but it's not an out-of-place statement in a discussion explicitly about how we feel about the word.

But for real...there is ample evidence right here in this thread that several people object to the word for a wide variety of different reasons, many of them both better and better-expressed than my own. People on the other side of the disagreement have resorted to explicitly using objectionable words to express their distaste for perceived oppression, or calling the OP a liar, or equating a polite call for discussion to dictatorial censorship schemes. To me that says a lot about which side is making the most sense.
posted by Ipsifendus at 1:27 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


But to be honest, just because certain outspoken members of one particular side make themselves sound (whatever adjective you want to place here), doesn't mean that side doesn't have a valid point of view.
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:29 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


And no, I don't assume people think I'm dishonest. I'm still flummoxed at why you and crunchland insist I am. --- You know, I don't think you're dishonest. I decided I don't care why you brought this whole thing up. You flinched and then you wanted to talk about it. I'm fine to leave it at that.
posted by crunchland at 1:32 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you want a change to the language used in MeFi you either have to want a global response or an official response. A partial response isn't going to be of any help. From that, to effect meaningful change rather than flag-it-and-move-on, you've got to be looking for a ban.

Huh? Where does that come from? Why wouldn't a partial response be any help? What's wrong or unhelpful about "Let's find out if many other people are offended/bothered by a word that bothers me-- and if so, maybe some people who have been using that word will learn how many people it bothers/how it's interpreted by others and choose not to use it anymore based on this"?
posted by EmilyClimbs at 1:42 PM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


> I think you missed the point where I asserted that these posts aren't discussions, they're calls for bans.

That is a lie and you should feel bad for lying about a fellow member in good standing. Nobody has called for a ban. Bearwife obviously wishes people wouldn't use "pussy" that way, but what's wrong with that? I wish people wouldn't say "he may have caught it" in contrary-to-fact situations where I would say "he might have caught it," but I'm not calling for a ban on it, nor do I even want a ban on it, because I am a believer in free speech. But I am also a believer in people thinking about the language they use and perhaps even making the mental effort to realize that just because they didn't mean anything bad (sexist, racist, whatever) by the word they used, that doesn't keep other people from being negatively affected by it, and (here's the crucial, and difficult, part) the response to that situation need not be "You are too sensitive, get over it for fuck's sake!" It can be "Oops, sorry, didn't mean to make you feel bad," and it can even be "Wow, I had no idea that word was so contentious, I guess I'll try to avoid using it in public, where I don't know how people might take it." (Note: Neither of these latter potential responses is a threat to anyone's masculinity or a caving-in to Orwellian language czars.) And these discussions, as tiresome as they may be to some people (who can, of course, easily skip them), have proven useful in the past and have clearly improved the overall tone of the site. I'd like to thank the people who have started the threads in question, including bearwife, who has shown amazing patience and good grace in this thread.
posted by languagehat at 2:12 PM on October 27, 2010 [22 favorites]


All joking aside, pussy is established in the vernacular as meaning weak. It has become synonymous as far as the vast majority of native English speaking persons are concerned. If you can't deal with it, it's not really anyone else's problem but yours.
posted by Biru at 2:17 PM on October 27, 2010


Oh my...
posted by Mister_A at 2:19 PM on October 27, 2010


Wussie is a much better word to use and doesn't have the gendered baggage. The end.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:20 PM on October 27, 2010


Astro Zombie: "May I ask a question: Did you read any part of this thread at all"

If this was in response to me, yes I did. I read every comment.

And, I responded to the question that was originally posed with my opinion. Your amazement that leads me to believe that you don't agree with me. Frankly, I'm fucking shocked because I expected you to change your mind.
posted by jefeweiss at 2:21 PM on October 27, 2010


If you can't deal with it, it's not really anyone else's problem but yours.

Can someone write me a FAQ entry that we can just point to, explaining why peoples' word choice in an online community actually does matter somewhat to people other than themselves? I am finding myself unable to civilly answer this question at the moment.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:24 PM on October 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wuss/wussy has been mentioned. You may already have a ticket; check your windshield.
posted by heyho at 2:25 PM on October 27, 2010


Why wouldn't a partial response be any help?

A partial response would be of help, possibly, but AZ said that anyone who didn't agree was free to move on and not check this thread, which was the thing I found odd: a partial response of people who already agree isn't helpful, which is why a thread like this would seem to me to need to look to be global in scope.

That assertion is objectively false.

These threads come up every time there's a contentious word, and compromise is rarely reached (on both sides, I grant you) without hundreds of comments back and forth. It's not much of a 'just asking'. Note I never even mentioned bearwife or staked a claim to the word in question! I was commenting on the thread as a whole with a point you neatly underlined for me by telling me to change my speech patterns. (I'd say 'ask' but you followed it with an insult, which I feel kind of changes the implicit meaning a bit.)
posted by stelas at 2:25 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


languagehat: may or might?
posted by heyho at 2:29 PM on October 27, 2010


"And that explicit statement reads as disingenuous to me; there's a purpose to the discussion, to affect future behavior. To deny that is to be dishonest about your motivations."

Sort of.

Look, the purpose of having a discussion is to do a couple things: Make people aware that there's an issue with the word (in this case, "pussy," and there is), and to hash out community standards on acceptability. For the first part, folks who may not have realized there was an issue with a word will now be aware that there is, and they can make the decision on whether it's more important to them to keep using the word or to honor the feelings of other members. In being aware that there's an issue, if you keep using the word, it can make you come across as a dick. (Note: I am sometimes a dick.)

So, yeah, it's to affect future behavior. But it's not a ban unless you're so socially moronic that you haven't ever had a discussion with people of varying norms before.

If you want to use the word pussy, realize that it's kind of crass. Sometimes, being crass can be funny. Often, it can be stupid. I tend to think that my "pussy at hand" joke was funny (though crass), whereas using the word in the title of the thread was just kind of stupid and crass.

If you can't grasp that distinction, you're bad at verbal communication. Sorry. This website happens to favor those who are good at verbal communication. Good luck on Fark.
posted by klangklangston at 2:35 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Frankly, I'm fucking shocked because I expected you to change your mind.

All right, since I am being directly addressed, I'll respond to this.

I'm not sure what you think my mind is. That there should be a global ban on the word pussy? Nope. That pussy is necessarily a gendered insult? Nope.

That it's an insult that lowers the overall tone of this site? Yep, and I'm not likely to change my mind on this. That people might be cautious about the language they use in a public setting? Yep, I have always thought this and continue to think it.

That a lot of the behavior in this thread has been a sort of reactionary "how dare you tell me what I can and cannot say" sort, not inspired by bearwife's original post or by any comment she has made subsequently, but based on a knee-jerk "my privilege is being threatened, how dare others be so fucking sensitive?" sort? Yep, not going to change my mind on that either.

That a lot of this behavior has manifested itself as a very aggressive attempt to say these sort of discussions are stupid and shouldn't even be happening, which strikes me as viciously ironic, given that the very people making them are the ones who are claiming they are here to defend free speech? Yes. Oh, this thread has convinced me of the fact. Posters don't even seem to care to listen to what bearwife says. She'll say "I'm not calling for a ban," and a moment later somebody else will say "You're calling for a ban," and then when she finally makes it clear that this is not what she's doing, they will out and out accuse her of misrepresenting herself. Do I think this is misbehavior? Yes I do, and I won't change my mind about that either.

I did change my mind about pussy being inherently a gendered insult, although I think it is often used that way.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:38 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: "Look, the purpose of having a discussion is to do a couple things: Make people aware that there's an issue with the word (in this case, "pussy," and there is), and to hash out community standards on acceptability. For the first part, folks who may not have realized there was an issue with a word will now be aware that there is, and they can make the decision on whether it's more important to them to keep using the word or to honor the feelings of other members. In being aware that there's an issue, if you keep using the word, it can make you come across as a dick. (Note: I am sometimes a dick.)"

I generally don't use the word in real life unless I'm purposely trying to be immature, but the thing is, not many people read MetaTalk and so I don't think much is going to change no matter how many times we have this discussion.
posted by gman at 2:40 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


A partial response would be of help, possibly, but AZ said that anyone who didn't agree was free to move on and not check this thread,

I did not say that. I said if you think these discussion are useless, you have the option of not participating. Pooping into a thread such as this one and saying "oh, this is stupid, why this again?" is threadshitting, and it's just as useless here as it is on the blue.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:41 PM on October 27, 2010


> Wuss/wussy has been mentioned. You may already have a ticket; check your windshield.

Origin unknown! That ticket was written on a homemade pad by a traffic cop who hasn't been paid in months and the department just lets them wear a t-shirt out of sympathy.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:41 PM on October 27, 2010


Yes, pooping into a thread.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:42 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I generally don't use the word in real life unless I'm purposely trying to be immature, but the thing is, not many people read MetaTalk and so I don't think much is going to change no matter how many times we have this discussion."

Fair point, but I bet it picks up more flags now.
posted by klangklangston at 2:46 PM on October 27, 2010


not many people read MetaTalk and so I don't think much is going to change no matter how many times we have this discussion.

That same criticism could be applied to a lot of what appears in MeTa. But these sorts of discussions genuinely have affected change, or at least raised awareness of discussions. There will always be somebody who is unaware of these broader discussion, but in general they seem to be good for the community.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:49 PM on October 27, 2010


Can someone write me a FAQ entry that we can just point to, explaining why peoples' word choice in an online community actually does matter somewhat to people other than themselves?

How would you phrase the question that this entry would go with?

"How to avoid offense in writing comments and posts?"

"How to ensure your post or comment is read as intended?"


In short, what problem would be solved by this FAQ entry and would it really be solved?
posted by nomadicink at 2:53 PM on October 27, 2010


Astro Zombie: "That same criticism could be applied to a lot of what appears in MeTa. But these sorts of discussions genuinely have affected change, or at least raised awareness of discussions. There will always be somebody who is unaware of these broader discussion, but in general they seem to be good for the community."

Yes and no. A few people will change their ways because of threads like these, but take a gander at how many times that word is used on Metafilter, even if it's not always in a derogatory fashion. As for what klangklangston said with regard to flags, that's true! and if it gets deleted my comment will be a bit lacking.
posted by gman at 2:55 PM on October 27, 2010


nomadicink, I think jessamyn was mostly being flip in lieu of going in a For Fuck's Sake direction. For my part I decided to not saying anything at all instead of going in said For Fuck's Sake direction, because on the one hand, really, for fuck's sake, but on the other I'm trying to get some stuff done around the house and am similarly not up to a civil response to "what I do in a community setting is other people's problem" chaff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:57 PM on October 27, 2010


Astro Zombie: "A partial response would be of help, possibly, but AZ said that anyone who didn't agree was free to move on and not check this thread,

I did not say that. I said if you think these discussion are useless, you have the option of not participating. Pooping into a thread such as this one and saying "oh, this is stupid, why this again?" is threadshitting, and it's just as useless here as it is on the blue
"

Ironically, I don't think that it's useless for someone who isn't offended to participate in a thread about something that might be considered offensive. They might learn something about what offends other people.

The problem with this being an actual "discussion" is with the people who are offended (and the people who are offended by the people who are offended.) They get all worked up about being offended (one way or the other) and start arguing. If there's one thing that I have learned from arguing with people, it's that angry people don't change their minds (at least until they calm down).

What got me angry was that I took your comment to be condescending without even considering. So I went all "Grarr". I still think that your comment was pretty condescending.

I think Bearwife has made some pretty good contributions to this "discussion." I think that discussing whether or not something is worthy of discussion is also discussion. Bearwife explicitly asked for peoples' opinions and they expressed them.

My personal opinion happens to be that if you spend too much time being offended you are wasting your life. There are certainly things that are worth spending time on, but someone using the word pussy on the internet does not meet my threshold. So why am I still here? I guess it's because I feel like people who feel like this really isn't that important are underrepresented in this discussion.
posted by jefeweiss at 3:18 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think jessamyn was mostly being flip in lieu of going in a For Fuck's Sake direction.

Oh yeah, I'm smart.

I guess it's because I feel like people who feel like this really isn't that important are underrepresented in this discussion.

This doesn't seem to make any sense. My snarky response is "Hurray for you for giving voice to the people who aren't interested in this in the first place."
posted by nomadicink at 3:31 PM on October 27, 2010


> So why am I still here? I guess it's because I feel like people who feel like this really isn't that important are underrepresented in this discussion.

Really, from what I've seen here it's more like the people who complain about "not this again" treat a MeTa thread like it was a door-to-door salesman that forced his way into their living room during TV time or something. Clearly, Metatalk is completely avoidable, and the complaints are more illustrative of how habitual web usage can turn one's worldview a bit inside out.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:34 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, I apologize if my tome was condescending. When somebody comes into a thread 200 plus comments in and offers a comment substantially similar to what has been posted dozens of times, it suggests maybe they skipped a few comments.

I guess it's because I feel like people who feel like this really isn't that important are underrepresented in this discussion.

This also makes me feel you haven't read the discussion. Looking at, say, the first half hours of this thread, and ignoring the "butthurt" side trip, "meh" comments outweigh "this is important" comments two to one. And half of the ones I am categorizing as "this is important" were made by mods.

But you say you read the thread, and I believe you, and will just chalk it up to people getting vastly different readings out of the same text. But perhaps you can understand why I wondered and not assume I was intended any offense by asking.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:37 PM on October 27, 2010


So why am I still here? I guess it's because I feel like people who feel like this really isn't that important are underrepresented in this discussion.

Is that your only reason? Or are you interested in the topic?

I'm surprised myself at how interesting this thread has remained. I'm thinking hard myself about gman's point (and cites) as to regular and recent use of "pussy" by users who haven't appeared in this thread. I'm not sure I want to flag, which seems to me like a request to delete . . . as I've said often now, I don't actually want to ban use of the word.
posted by bearwife at 3:41 PM on October 27, 2010


bearwife, let me get this straight: so you're not actually calling for a sitewide ban of the p-word? And you really just wanted to discuss it? Well, it's about time you stop dancing around the issue and just said that!

Good lord, people. Really.
posted by heyho at 4:04 PM on October 27, 2010


إذا لا تفكر عن المهبل، فإن جهودك غير مقبول، كما قلت السيّد سنيد.
posted by Biru at 4:32 PM on October 27, 2010


Ok, Biru, that's not fair man! (Unless that says, "Who doesn't love a pussy?!")
posted by snsranch at 4:43 PM on October 27, 2010


Biru, your comment translates on google:

Do not think for a vagina, your efforts, the unacceptable, as I said Mr. Snead

Uh, what?
posted by bearwife at 4:46 PM on October 27, 2010


If you ain't thinking about pussy, you ain't concentrating. I paraphrased the Arabic as, hilariously, after an evening of drinking I can't remember the Arabic for "to concentrate".
posted by Biru at 4:58 PM on October 27, 2010


I guess I wouldn't draw too much of a distinction between people who get offended at the use of the word "pussy" and people who get offended when they think that someone is telling them they can't use the word "pussy." Either party is not likely to take part in any real discussion. They are too busy being offended. The people who are offended by the word seem to have the upper hand from a rhetorical standpoint because most people don't want to offend someone and, as we have seen, it's tough to tell someone that they aren't really offended.

And I do find the discussion interesting, when I can pay attention to it through all the people talking at each other and jumping to conclusions. I would more tend to lament the fact that there isn't more discussion. I think that it's possible that the more discussions we have about this the more ridiculous they will get. We have already excluded language that 75% of the English speaking world use on a daily basis. I'm kind of curious if we'll ever reach a homeostasis of offensiveness where the number of people on either side are equal.
posted by jefeweiss at 5:05 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


This conversation reads for me like so:

A: This term is unpleasant for me to read. Perhaps there are other ways of expressing X sentiment.
B: How dare you say such a thing. Shut up.
A: But it not fun to read --
B: Shut up. Shut up.
A: But you see --
B: SHUT UP YOU LANGUAGE POLICE OFFICER

So I guess what I'm saying is, weird, man. I really don't get what gets some folks riled up.
posted by angrycat at 5:18 PM on October 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Biru, bedtime for you, dude.
posted by angrycat at 5:18 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


On the contrary, might I suggest that any negative connotation resulting from the use of the word "pussy" is directed upon the person using that word. For example, at a dinner party, among relatively educated and well spoken folk, if one were to say, "Well, Timothy is simply being a pussy", that the speaker would instantly be regarded by all as being jackass and a simpleton. One of a lower class, perhaps. That person would surely be ignored during cocktails.
posted by snsranch at 5:32 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wish people wouldn't say "he may have caught it" in contrary-to-fact situations where I would say "he might have caught it," but I'm not calling for a ban on it, nor do I even want a ban on it, because I am a believer in free speech.

how 'bout a little tiny ban on it? I had a goddamn hard enough time learning all the subjunctives without this whole decay of the more-vivid/less-vivid into the contrary-to-fact.
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:50 PM on October 27, 2010


Is it that you disbelieve her -- in which case, the onus is on your to make your case --- I've been thinking about this, and I'd say you're wrong.

The onus is not on me to make my case. I didn't need to convince anyone to believe my own disbelief, so I don't need to make a case. I mean, I don't believe in the tooth-fairy or God either, but I don't need to explain that to anyone. And even if I did try to explain my reasons, I doubt it would have made any difference.
posted by crunchland at 6:23 PM on October 27, 2010


The onus is not on me to make my case.

So you have thought about it and decided that if you accuse somebody of being a liar, there's no need for you to back that up?

I mean, nobody can force you to, but it's usually considered to be an extremely uncivil act.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:10 PM on October 27, 2010


Its a bad word I'd prefer not to see or hear outside the bedroom.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:11 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


The onus is not on me to make my case. I didn't need to convince anyone to believe my own disbelief, so I don't need to make a case.

crunchland, the stance you're taking with this comment is pretty damn disingenuous. You're not simply thinking to yourself,"Hmm...I don't believe bearwife." Rather, you're participating in a pubic forum, and saying to the entire assembled audience,"I think bearwife is being dishonest."

I gotta say, she's been nothing but polite and respectful here. It's pretty goddamn arrogant to assert that you can speak to her motivations better than she can herself. It's even more arrogant to suggest that casting aspersions on another member, one who's demonstrably at great pains to keep things on the high road, isn't something that you feel the need to explain the reasoning behind.
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:12 PM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Burhanistan, you may want to check out fast times at ridgemont high for the origins of wussy.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:20 PM on October 27, 2010


You're not simply thinking to yourself,"Hmm...I don't believe bearwife." Rather, you're participating in a pubic forum, and saying to the entire assembled audience,"I think bearwife is being dishonest." --- Actually, I was only referring specifically to Astro Zombie's claim that I needed to prove something. I've already said that I don't think she's dishonest. I take her at her word that thought we could have a pleasant conversation, despite linking to a contentious thread from a few days ago, and putting lots of other shocking words in the tag field.
posted by crunchland at 7:50 PM on October 27, 2010


Wow. You people are still at this. Here's a suggestion. Calm down. I bet if we got all the people in this thread who have been yelling at each other together in a room, we'd all have a fabulous time, no one's feelings would be hurt, and every person present would feel respected and empowered. For reals.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:55 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


A: This term is unpleasant for me to read. Perhaps there are other ways of expressing X sentiment.
B: How dare you say such a thing. Shut up.
A: But it not fun to read --
B: Shut up. Shut up.
A: But you see --
B: SHUT UP YOU LANGUAGE POLICE OFFICER

So I guess what I'm saying is, weird, man. I really don't get what gets some folks riled up.


Some people think that being offended is a choice in such situations, and Person A has chosen poorly. I believe that sometimes, although probably not in this situation. Some people can process offenses logically, others do it emotionally. For someone who processes offense-level logically, seeing someone say "___ thing you do not find offensive offends me" is tantamount to "I have chosen to be offended by your words and am parlaying this into a proscription of your behavior." Because if they were saying it, that's what it would amount to.

People are different, is all.
posted by Phyltre at 7:57 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow. You people are still at this. Here's a suggestion. Calm down. I bet if we got all the people in this thread who have been yelling at each other together in a room, we'd all have a fabulous time, no one's feelings would be hurt, and every person present would feel respected and empowered. For reals.

You had my favourite, until you posted "for reals". Should I start my own MeTa?
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:00 PM on October 27, 2010


:-P
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:00 PM on October 27, 2010


Yeah. I realize my last comment might be more snide than I wanted it to. Suffice to say, I was really only meaning to address AZ's "onus" claim, and not reignite the earlier stuff. Sorry about that.
posted by crunchland at 8:01 PM on October 27, 2010


crunchland... *shakes head sadly* ... you're making me think of not that girl's comment in another thread, about horses: once they start biting down, they can't open their jaws again until they've bitten all the way, so if one bites your finger, they will have to bite it off completely.
posted by taz at 8:03 PM on October 27, 2010


oops. I wrote my comment before seeing your last.
posted by taz at 8:06 PM on October 27, 2010


Some people can process offenses logically, others do it emotionally. For someone who processes offense-level logically, seeing someone say "___ thing you do not find offensive offends me" is tantamount to "I have chosen to be offended by your words and am parlaying this into a proscription of your behavior." Because if they were saying it, that's what it would amount to.

I lean logical, myself. I have concrete reasons, which I've stated more than once, why this word bothers me when used to criticize other people, and why for me it falls in the group of words I listed in the tags. But it isn't logical to say that when someone says a word or a thing bothers them, for x stated reason, therefore they are "parlaying this" into a "proscription of [other's] behavior."

Look, I get that some other people don't respond to this word as I do, and what has been very illuminating for me about this thread is learning how others do feel about it. But the further gloss or translation that when someone speaks up to say that something bothers them, the people who do or say that thing are being told they are forbidden to do so, seems to me very illogical. I.e., when I express my feelings, that's a data point for others. It isn't something more until it is -- until there is actually a request for the behavior or use of the word to stop. And that's not a request I'm making here.
posted by bearwife at 8:31 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I take her at her word that thought we could have a pleasant conversation, despite linking to a contentious thread from a few days ago, and putting lots of other shocking words in the tag field.

This would be easier to take at face value if you'd just stopped right before the word "despite".
posted by Ipsifendus at 9:16 PM on October 27, 2010


I hate you all.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:19 PM on October 27, 2010


No wait, it's the other one. The other one. I LOVE you all. There. Phew.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:19 PM on October 27, 2010



Using "pussy" as a slur isn't something grownups should do. It's just juvenile and tacky.


This is actually how and why I use it. It's generally in casual speech with people who know me. Part of the very purpose of using the word is to sound like a fourteen year old boy. Sometimes, being juvenile and tacky is, well, fun, a lot of fun.

I use it in written speech as well, and have done here (I'm pretty sure.) I don't do it often, as it requires a particular context and nuance in order to have the proper tone. If you haven't been having a conversation with me and can't see my face or hear my voice, it's not easy to convey.


I don't really think of "pussy" in the discussed usage as being gendered, honestly - why would I say it if I did? (Full disclosure - I have one.) However, I am generally not that sensitive to gendered insults unless they are particularly foul and purposefully hateful. I do recognize that others are and tailor my usage according to that sensitivity; I don't want to exclude someone from what I am trying to say if all they are going to see is THAT. WORD.

But in the end, context trumps all. If being juvenile and tacky works in the moment, so be it. But here, it usually doesn't.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:10 AM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm apt to believe bearwife when she says "We're just having a discussion".

However, the truth is that any metatalk thread which discusses acceptable / desirable usage of a contentious word is going to lead to other-thread comments saying metafilter has decreed the use of the word as unacceptable.

This is the real consequence of these sorts of discussions (example), and I dread having someone making a "We've previously decided you shouldn't use pussy in this way" comment somewhere else.

I'm aware BTW that the people making such comments do not represent the reality of these discussions, but those "We don't do that here" comments still push the site towards a more conservative written form.

If you start a {bad-word-x-is-bad} thread on metatalk, you *will* cause the usage of that word to be reduced. If that's your aim, fine. If not, then please be aware of the consequences.

(Again - I'm not digging at bearwife here. I see no reason not to believe her position)
posted by seanyboy at 5:23 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I, too, believe bearwife when she says her motives for posting this thread were merely for discussion and that her goal was not "banning" the use of pussy on metafilter. But it took some convincing for me to get there, because a) she didn't really provide any fodder for discussion, and b) this looks like a callout.

The nascent discussion:
Now that we've had a discussion about "douchebag," does anyone else flinch at this title, too?

The glories of the internets also links "this title" to the phrase Haunted houses are for pussies and provides the context of another recent MeTa about gender and language. So mostly all we get on a literal level is "Did you flinch when you saw Haunted houses are for pussies?" Connotatively, I think many of us would read that as some form of "Did this specific use of pussy meaning 'weak' upset you?" Or, maybe, "Does this use pussy upset you generally?" To which, we can sort of assume, bearwife answers simply "It did upset me; it made me flinch."

Beyond that simple question and answer, the way people approach the discussion will diverge widely. Personally, from the context of this being MetaTalk, I immediately think callout: "bearwife finds so 300two8's contribution to the site so objectionable that it requires public shaming." It's possible that bearwife does not share that view of what metatalk is (perhaps teh schmoopty is more prevalent nowadays?), but it's how I read these threads and I don't think it's an unreasonable reading. Peltings with rocks and garbage have a grand tradition in the grey. Beyond that, there is a thread about gendered language still on the front page... bearwife linked to it... it specifically discusses 'pussy'... so I have to think bearwife would think first to bring up this discussion there. Unless she had specific reason to want it on the grey front page, which is a larger audience of readers than those following the douchebag thread. In other words, it was that important to call attention to 300two8's usage.

seanyboy is right, posting this thread has consequences regardless of intent. What I think many of these threads about discouraging certain language boil down to is a discussion shared vs. safe space. We all want to share this place on the web and we want to be comfortable doing so. bearwife and many others here feel language like X is are for pussies infringes on their safe participation here by reinforcing longstanding cultural oppression. crunchland and many others believe threads like this one make it harder for people to express themselves and thereby effectively end up hurting open discussion.

I'm more in the crunchland camp but agree that "words are all we have". I would extend it, however, to include "words and the community's response to them are all we have". I do not use "pussy" in the way 300two8 did, but I know many people who do. People who have good things to share. I read this posting as an attempt to exclude those people by placing barriers to posting, both for those of us who are mindful of metafilter's complex relationship with gender issues ("I want to express foo, but will have to include x,y,z disclaimers to the gender police so it's not worth it") to those in the community who are less aware of them ("I joined metafilter, shared a cool link and got called a rapist; fuck those guys").

I do not believe that was bearwife's intent, but I do hope she will keep it mind that some people will read contributions like this thread in that way.

Anyway, regarding the "discussion": I did/do flinch when hearing that usage of "pussy". I'm nerdy (and male btw) and have had that word directed at me in hurtful, bullying ways when I was younger. This particular case, however, didn't push any buttons for me as it didn't seem directed at any specific person in particular. To me it conveyed succinctly the bravado of the purveyors that they have somehow taken the genre to some extreme. But I have no interest in haunted houses and had scrolled past the thread on the blue front page so I hadn;t seen the title before this thread. I can see how I'd have a different reaction if I was interested in the topic and clicked through only to have to confront something I found offensive.

But, you know, there's always going to be stuff I find offensive posted here (wanna compare notes on gendered insults in title tags?), but I truly prefer it that way as that stuff is a welcomed challenge to my intellectual ruts.

Finally, I don't think "pussy" is in the same class as the other words in bearwife's tags: though laden with misogyny I don't think of it as a word likely to be used against women in a threatening way, but more likely used neutrally as in this case or, if in anger, intended to emasculate a man. Those other words in the tags I do associate with violence against women (except "ballbuster" which I can't really picture anybody saying, not anybody here anyway), so I would classify "pussy" under "gendered insults without historical context to make them really odious."
posted by Dano St at 7:55 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Finally, I don't think "pussy" is in the same class as the other words in bearwife's tags

I wasn't really going to bring this up unless someone else did, but the tags were part of what made this post go from feeling like an "I'm just wondering what people think" to an "I am pissed off about this on the site" to me. Because, at some level, to me, pussy is an insult that in my context I hear used to refer to men and women, used to denote weakness. Not that great certainly. However most of the words in the tags, to me are used AT women in sort of jerky I-hate-you sort of ways, they are all worse. So I felt that there was one word we were discussing, under the shadow of negativity of all those other words. Which to me slanted the discussion somewhat.

To me, as a site participant and as a mod, it felt fairly confrontational and angry because I pretty much only hear those words in angry contexts and absent any context, just hanging there as tags, it gave me the "oh shit not this again" because I am certain I was not the only person who was confused thinking "what is up with those tags?"

And after a lot of discussion I feel like I get a better idea of what bearwife was desiring. And I don't want to turn this into a "let's discuss how you said what you said instead of what you said" situation, so I won't. That was my read when I saw this post. We as mods are responsible to all members of this community, the people who make the callouts and the people who are called out. Seeing the word cunt in a MetaTalk tag ruins my day because no matter what the post is about, some people are only going to see that and they respond pretty much how you would expect them to.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:13 AM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


The neat thing about the professional white background (at least in Windows/Firefox) is that the tags in Metatalk are pretty much washed out. I just noticed them. Hmm.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:23 AM on October 28, 2010


And I don't want to turn this into a "let's discuss how you said what you said instead of what you said" situation

I don't either and was hesitant to go there myself, but it seemed to be a point of lingering contention which bearwife herself was engaged in, so I went ahead in put in two cents.
posted by Dano St at 8:23 AM on October 28, 2010


For what it's worth, I've been turning the topics in this thread over in my mind for quite a few hours over the past few days. I need to apologize to bearwife for coming on as strong as I did. I've been on the receiving end of this sort of Metatalk aggression many times, so you'd think I'd have better compassion for other people when they're in the same position.
posted by crunchland at 8:24 AM on October 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


I agree that pussy isn't as over the top as the rest of the tags, but for me it is like fingernails on a chalkboard, which I always figured is the whole point. The whole point. The person using it usually wants me to feel that friction; it's why they choose that language — and, I can't help but feel like the underlying power of it is that it's "nasty" and I should feel bad/ashamed/disgusted with myself for having one.

Am I charging people with this kind of mindset whenever anyone uses it? Not at all, but as a girl growing up and grasping the meaning behind all the bad words, I was (and still sort of feel) convinced that (most/some) men feel like this is such a disgusting part of a woman that it should be used for insults... which didn't make me feel good about me, them, or the whole idea of sex or intimacy in general. Not every little girl feels this way, obviously, but it remains a distinct memory for me, trying to puzzle through all sorts of language like this and what it means about the world in general. We aren't children here, and shouldn't be expected to speak as though we're talking to children... but if the question is how do we feel about it, well I still hate it. I don't think it should be banned, but I'll definitely admit that if someone reads this thread and decides for themselves that maybe it's not the greatest word for expressing something negative or shameful, that wouldn't be the worst thing ever.

(also, just btw: that linked example of a gendered insult in a title tag was the poster being sarcastic, Dano; she was expressing doubt that women were really hearing the sorts of rude things they reported. I'm sure there are other examples, but I don't think that's one.)
posted by taz at 8:52 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't like butthurt because it is incredibly dismissive, and that kind of thing makes me rage.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:00 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


she was expressing doubt that women were really hearing the sorts of rude things they reported.

Interesting. That is not at all what I get reading that OP. It never even occurred to me that would be what was meant, and I still doubt it to be the case. But the possibility is reason enough for me to say "ok, forget I brought that up."

posted by Dano St at 9:31 AM on October 28, 2010


I'm hardly some kind of regular on MetaFilter, let alone here in the grey (mostly just too busy with kids these days) but I do try to check in here occasionaly to take the temperature of the place. And my impression of late is that MeFi is much fightier than when I was lurking several years ago, and people feel more entitled to make their personal issues the subject of drama. Being aware of the effective ban on "cunt" and the recent threads on "douchebag" and now "pussy," (a word I can't recall ever having seen before on the site, for god's sake) gives me, a casual observer, the definite impression that language policing, even if internalized, might be on the rise here. It doesn't matter that an actual ban has or has not been called for, the underlying chilling effect is there. It makes me, someone who has yet to put together an FPP, even less inclined to participate lest I commit some error of language that upsets someone's sensitivities or irritates a sore point that has festered since the last time I checked MeTa.

I'm okay - hell, I'm ecstatic - to be a member of an online community where racism and sexism are emphatically rejected. I'd like to think that basic respect is a core value of this place. But so is freedom of expression, and I'd rather see the behavior of individual members be the subject of dissaproval, instead of words.

And for the record, and since bearwife asked, I think "pussy" is a juvenile term used mostly by the repugnantly macho. But it has no gendered association for me. It's a slightly more agressive version of "wimp."
posted by werkzeuger at 9:31 AM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


snsranch: "On the contrary, might I suggest that any negative connotation resulting from the use of the word "pussy" is directed upon the person using that word. For example, at a dinner party, among relatively educated and well spoken folk, if one were to say, "Well, Timothy is simply being a pussy", that the speaker would instantly be regarded by all as being jackass and a simpleton. One of a lower class, perhaps. That person would surely be ignored during cocktails"

This comment interests me, mostly because of what is implied about status and class. I can only really speak for myself, and I have the all too human tendency to assume that others are more like me than they probably are, but I don't really go to too many dinner parties where cocktails are served afterwords. I also don't really hang out with too many people who are in a position to consider other people to be "of a lower class". It really does make me curious as to the SES and habits of other people on Metafilter.

I grew up in larger cities and towns, but I currently live in a small rural town. To me, your statement is pretty foreign. Among the people that I have worked and hung out with, I would consider being called a pussy to be getting off pretty easy, which isn't to say that I go around using the word myself. "Have another beer, ya pussy" might be something that someone would say just kidding around. This is exactly the sense in which I took the original comment.
posted by jefeweiss at 9:57 AM on October 28, 2010


As a college student, I've heard it all. It just makes the poster look like a little kid with a bad vocabulary. So instead of a flinch, I only give it ONE GENERIC EYEROLL.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:12 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


sarcasm, jefeweiss . If you look at snsranch's other comments in this thread, I think you'll see that he was trying to say that people who don't like the word are snooty. Or something.
posted by taz at 10:15 AM on October 28, 2010


It doesn't matter that an actual ban has or has not been called for, the underlying chilling effect is there

Please understand that the "chilling effect" you speak of cuts both ways: it's not the case that there's a clear choice between the a Metafilter suffering that "chilling effect" where people state clear objections and a hypothetical free, happy, unfettered, un-"chilled" Metafilter where this discussion doesn't take place. Not from where I'm standing, anyhow.

You're right that, when members object to the use of a derogatory and arguably misogynistic word, people inclined to use the word in question may think twice about using it in the future.

And I'm right that, when no one objects to the use of a derogatory and arguably misogynistic word, people who are saddened or angered or offended by the widespread and casual use of gendered and demeaning language may think twice about speaking at all. Talk about your "chilling effect": misogynistic language works towards freezing out a subset of the female or feminist members of the community.
posted by Elsa at 10:25 AM on October 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


And, if you read my previous remarks here, you'll see that I am not arguing for a ban on the word "pussy" or on any word. I am clearly stating an objection to it.

Simply put: I'm not trying to curtail someone's right to use language I find objectionable. What I am doing is objecting to it.

posted by Elsa at 10:29 AM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm not bothering to read this whole thread, but I see no mention of Tobias Fünke, M.D., Analrapist yet. Thank you, that is all I had to say.
posted by ellenaim at 12:12 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd rather see the behavior of individual members be the subject of dissaproval, instead of words.

See this confuses me. Because in a text-based online community, our use of words is really the only behaviour we display, isn't it?
posted by bardophile at 12:47 PM on October 28, 2010


> I'm not bothering to read this whole thread...

That's a proud declaration that always makes me flinch a little.
posted by heyho at 12:54 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you can't be bothered to read other people's words, why should they read yours?
posted by Gator at 12:55 PM on October 28, 2010


Can someone run the data to see if these MetaTalk-language threads are comprised disproportionately of newer users*? Because I'm pretty sure that this thread pops up every few months and basically goes exactly the same way each time.

* excepting Astro Zombie, the 'hat and the mods.
posted by GuyZero at 1:53 PM on October 28, 2010


See this confuses me. Because in a text-based online community, our use of words is really the only behaviour we display, isn't it?

is quite different from this

Language is everything. It's everything.

The phrase "text-based community" is vitally important in that context. If this is what you mean, then say it. If words are so important, (and demonstrably they are, on web-page) then say what you mean, and don't respond with vicious character assassination toward a poster who has responded to the actual words they've seen; and not some imagined addendum that completely changes the meaning. Some of us aren't actually frikken mind readers.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:07 PM on October 28, 2010


Can someone run the data to see if these MetaTalk-language threads are comprised disproportionately of newer users*? Because I'm pretty sure that this thread pops up every few months and basically goes exactly the same way each time.

And some of us are older community members who are in here swinging every time the ugly subject comes up --- because it's important to us, because we feel it's important to make our voices heard in this community, because other people's insistence upon their privilege to use misogynistic language doesn't curtail my privilege to object to it.

And from my point of view, this isn't the same each time. Over the past few years, these threads have been far more civil and less contentious, and that's a step. It's been a while since we lost a chunk of the most vocal feminist community. It's been a while since someone on either side (or in the wide gray area in the middle) flamed out.

It's changed from a fight to a continuing conversation, and that's a huge change. That's a mile of progress on a long, long road.
posted by Elsa at 2:19 PM on October 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


> I'd rather see the behavior of individual members be the subject of dissaproval, instead of words.

This is nonsense. As bardophile points out, language is behavior, and using sexist language that offends a large part of the userbase is bad behavior that should be discouraged.

Another form of bad behavior that should be discouraged is equating requests to think about usage with jackbooted totalitarianism. to say "language policing, even if internalized, might be on the rise here" is to frame the issue in a misleading and unhelpful way. It is not "policing" to say "Excuse me, you're standing on my foot, would you mind moving?" No more is it policing to say "Excuse me, that word bothers me, would you mind not using it here?" Note that no one is telling you what you can or can't say, and no one is even asking you to censor your speech in other circumstances—say, in your own circle where everybody knows you and knows how to take your words. There is nothing wrong with asking the userbase to consider and weigh in on issues of usage. Inevitably, some people will say "Yeah, that bothers me too," others will say "Huh, I hadn't thought about it, but if it bothers people I'll be more careful how I write," and still others will say "How dare you! Free speech forever!!" These last people need to grow up and learn to use their brains, but no matter. What's important is that some people actually do stop and think, and the sitewide incidence of jerkish speech is at least marginally reduced. This is a good thing.
posted by languagehat at 2:20 PM on October 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


You're right that, when members object to the use of a derogatory and arguably misogynistic word, people inclined to use the word in question may think twice about using it in the future.

I think that's an accurate statement (and a nice sleight-of-hand) but it's not what I said. I'm concerned with members who are not inclined to use misogynistic language and still feel hesitant to speak.

...people who are saddened or angered or offended by the widespread and casual use of gendered and demeaning language...

Is this really how you see MetaFilter? As a hotbed of misogyny?

...this confuses me. Because in a text-based online community, our use of words is really the only behaviour we display, isn't it?


I simply mean ban users, not words.
posted by werkzeuger at 2:23 PM on October 28, 2010


Just to clarify, with "in here swinging," I'm talking baseball, not boxing. I'm not roundhousing at anyone; I'm swingin' for the fences.
posted by Elsa at 2:28 PM on October 28, 2010


As I very clearly say in that very comment, werkzeuger, I speak up when I see or hear misogynistic language. I'm glad that Metafilter has a more civil standard than much of the internet. That doesn't mean that we are exempt from criticism when it does occur.

That the usage is sometimes intended to be casual and non-offensive only highlights how normalized that language is.

I don't know what "sleight-of-hand" you're referring to in my comment, but perhaps you'll be more explicit?

I simply mean ban users, not words.

Then it is you and not either bearwife or me who is calling for any ban at all.

And now I have to be away from my desk. If you have follow-up remarks, I won't see then for hours or until tomorrow.
posted by Elsa at 2:32 PM on October 28, 2010


the sitewide incidence of jerkish speech is at least marginally reduced.

In my opinion, 300two8's title tag was not jerkish. It was pretty conventional speech and conveyed it's meaning which was not at all intended to harm anyone. Your assertion that it was jerkish speech is actually the shitty behavior from where I'm sitting, but, you know, I'm sorry you have the share the space with children like me that don't know how to use their brains. And by "sorry", I mean, "have fun asserting your privilege to shit all over people that disagree with you but thanks for proving my point that bearwife damaged 300two8's reputation by simply posting this thread; I'm going to go drink a beer now."
posted by Dano St at 2:55 PM on October 28, 2010


I'm okay - hell, I'm ecstatic - to be a member of an online community where racism and sexism are emphatically rejected.

... but you apparently entirely disapprove of the conversations that go into successfully making an online community where racism and sexism are emphatically rejected.

I simply mean ban users, not words.

Because banning users is much better that having discussions in which we attempt to bridge the gaps of perception and usage. Nobody was ever banning words or calling for that action, so even if "ban users, not words" made any sense, it's quite beside the point.
posted by taz at 3:11 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't care if you're offended:
I actually don’t care whether anyone is offended. Offense is a vague, amorphous concept, and it is completely subjective, as my friend pointed out. Anyone can claim to be deeply, mortally offended by anything, and it may very well be true; even if it’s not, there’s no way to dispute it. “You don’t really feel what you claim you feel,” is a line of argumentation that doesn’t get anyone anywhere.

What I care about is harm. What I ultimately said in this other argument was:
The problem with sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, classist, ableist, etc., remarks and “jokes” is not that they’re offensive, but that by relying for their meaning on harmful cultural narratives about privileged and marginalized groups they reinforce those narratives, and the stronger those narratives are, the stronger the implicit biases with which people are indoctrinated are. That’s real harm, not just “offense.”
Now, I think many people who write about and try to fight structural bias are just accustomed to using “offensive” as something of a shorthand for this notion of harmful-because-it-reinforces-pernicious-memes; I know I generally have. But offense is only defined in terms of how the offended person feels, which means it’s an insufficient concept. It actually obscures the real problem.
posted by Lexica at 3:42 PM on October 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


These last people need to grow up and learn to use their brains, but no matter
...
the sitewide incidence of jerkish speech is at least marginally reduced.


Classy.

[facepalm.jpg]

I should have known better. I'm out.
posted by werkzeuger at 5:05 PM on October 28, 2010


wuh. classy? You're the one who opened with the salvo "of late .. people feel more entitled to make their personal issues the subject of drama."

Right. There is nothing to be discussed here: it's all just some person's personal issue, we're only talking because they feel entitled and want to create drama.

Your words. Now you're upset because you feel someone is being dismissive of your concerns?
posted by taz at 5:34 PM on October 28, 2010


IYour assertion that it was jerkish speech is actually the shitty behavior from where I'm sitting, but, you know, I'm sorry you have the share the space with children like me that don't know how to use their brains.

You're taking this entirely more personally than anyone intends it to be.
posted by Ipsifendus at 5:40 PM on October 28, 2010


You're probably right, Ipsifendus. It's just that langaugehat has pronounced wide but nebulous swaths of comments infantile or stupid several times before and it gets hard to tell who exactly he's flinging crap at today.

To my friend, lh, I smile and say 500.
posted by Dano St at 6:44 PM on October 28, 2010


Yes, I agree. Languagehat could definitely use a hug.
posted by crunchland at 6:46 PM on October 28, 2010


You're taking this entirely more personally than anyone intends it to be.

Ironic that you're saying this in a thread about someone who dislikes the use of the word "pussy" as an insult.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:34 PM on October 28, 2010


I want to fling my feces around and it's your own problem if it smells.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:36 PM on October 28, 2010


Yeah, we've been putting up with that for awhile.
posted by crunchland at 7:42 PM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


the salvo "of late .. people feel more entitled to make their personal issues the subject of drama."

That sentence is a salvo that deserves to be categorized as "jerkish speech"? As "needs to grow up"? werkzeuger shared his thoughts sincerely but apparently doesn't know how to use his brain. I liked the comment so does that make me a stupid jerk too?

I don't see how "people feel more entitled to make their personal issues the subject of drama" is really comparable to lh's insults. Is it "entitled" that you see as fighty? That is kinda mean, but gawd... do a control-f for privilege. Calling other mefites "entitled" is hardly werkzeuger's original concept. I didn't gather any meaning from "personal drama" so if that's what so nasty, I guess I just glossed over it.

I admit that "rather see the behavior of individual members be the subject of dissaproval, instead of words" is a bit of a head scratcher out of context, but on the whole I took werkzeuger's comment as saying he's noticed an uptick in disapproval of bad words and he feels hesitant to post because of it. Oh, and he answered the poll question. What's wrong with that?

I wouldn't have guessed, though, that "ban users, not words" was what was meant. Yeah, could I selectively unfavorite that part? I took it more like "if something crosses the line, address that instance rather than make broad rules about language" which is rather standard procedure. Isn't that actually agreeing with the point we keep hearing that "but but no one asked for a ban!!" ?

I dunno, if we all here to report our feelings, I guess I'm confused.
posted by Dano St at 7:50 PM on October 28, 2010


*apologizes for assuming werkzeuger gender*
posted by Dano St at 7:54 PM on October 28, 2010


Ironic that you're saying this in a thread about someone who dislikes the use of the word "pussy" as an insult.

I'd argue that "pussy" (and other insults that derive their power from the association and tacit assumption that female attributes and body parts are Bad Things) aren't remotely personal; they're derogatory to all women, regardless of personal distinctions between us.
posted by Elsa at 8:06 PM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm confused.

And maybe also wanting a hug. Or another beer. Ideally a beer in one of those little plastic hugs would be great if anyone has one of those. Thanks y'all, you're the best.
posted by Dano St at 8:07 PM on October 28, 2010



Ironic that you're saying this in a thread about someone who dislikes the use of the word "pussy" as an insult.


Not especially. This thread is a discussion about a word, and how the community feels about that word. Someone feels insulted by that word, but the thread is not a discussion about that person, as you've characterized it to be. Nor is it about the people who want to feel free to use the word here. This discussion is not about a particular person or people. It's about a word. I.e., it is not personal.

I read Dano St's message as indicative of some pretty strong feelings of defensiveness. Those feelings are probably needless, because so far as I can tell, nobody's calling for Dano St to immolate themselves for their speech patterns. Nobody's called them a child, and nobody indicated that he/she doesn't "know how to use their brains". This discussion is not a referendum on any particular person. Your perception of irony here is based on faulty characterizations of this discussion.
posted by Ipsifendus at 8:08 PM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nobody's called them a child, and nobody indicated that he/she doesn't "know how to use their brains".

???

and still others will say "How dare you! Free speech forever!!" These last people need to grow up and learn to use their brains, but no matter.

That certainly refers to somebody. Somebodies actually. I understand that languagehat was not addressing me personally, but I don't understand what you mean. Who did you read him as referring to?
posted by Dano St at 8:19 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read Dano St's message as indicative of some pretty strong feelings of defensiveness.

And since I've apparently have keyboard diarrhea tonight, you mean this message right? Yeah, I was frustrated there. Sincere apologies. But overall have I been defensive?

What if I said I'm defensive about being called defensive? Please don't call me defensive. I don't like that word. You hurt me. Curb your behavior.

How would you feel? I would feel awkward. I would think I should probably shut up now.
posted by Dano St at 8:30 PM on October 28, 2010


This discussion is not about a particular person or people. It's about a word. I.e., it is not personal.

Oh, bullshit.

In your very first comment in this thread, you made a comment about particular people, namely those who use the word "pussy" as an insult when you said "MF members: please don't use the word "pussy" as an insult. It makes you sound like a moronic seventh grader."
posted by 23skidoo at 8:36 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


by 'I' I mean me not you. of course. please do clarify. or don't. but feel free to do whichever. ok, seriously, zipping it, I swear
posted by Dano St at 8:41 PM on October 28, 2010


I'd argue that "pussy" (and other insults that derive their power from the association and tacit assumption that female attributes and body parts are Bad Things) aren't remotely personal; they're derogatory to all women, regardless of personal distinctions between us.

Respectfully, that's a perfectly understandable position to take, and I don't care to dissuade you from it, but the opposing side of "you are being too sensitive about what that word means" is just as defensible, which is why I called the comment ironic.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:44 PM on October 28, 2010


Lots to respond to, here.

Dano: I read languagehat as referring (in the line you quoted) to people who are not able to differentiate between a request to refrain from using certain words on the one hand, and a ban on free speech on the other. That he mentioned no names, and quoted nobody's exact words, is a good indication that this is not intended to be taken personally.

And yes, you are correct about which of your comments I was referring to. If you don't care for the word "defensive", I'll say that the comment in question read as both angry and rooted in a misapprehension that somebody was calling you in particular a bad person. I did not, and do not, thing that anybody was doing that, and wanted to suggest that there was no need for you to worry that they were.

23skidoo, my comment is a reference to a group of people, the reference itself being described entirely in terms of a specified behavior. No names are used, and God-as-my-witness I wasn't even thinking of anybody in particular. I did honestly express how I feel about the behavior, which is, really and truly, that I think it reflects badly on the people who do it, making them sound significantly stupider than they probably are in actuality.

Jesus, somebody who actually copped to using the term as an insult said themselves that they do it exactly because it's juvenile and therefore amusing. Fair enough, but I'm not convinced that ironic posturing as an idiot improves much on really being one.

These are just my thoughts, and they've got nothing at all to do with you personally. They have to do with behavior. Prior to this thread I've never noticed you at all, and still wouldn't have if you hadn't responded as many times as you have.

If it's the case that you indulge in that behavior, using "pussy" as an insult, and that's why you're upset that I feel the way I do...well, shit, I don't know what to tell you. You can get as bent out of shape about it as you like, but I don't see that doing so constitutes a good reason for me to change to my mind.
posted by Ipsifendus at 9:01 PM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


It came from the Internet! Just in time for Hallowe'en. THE THREAD THAT WOULDN'T DIE!
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:06 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think pussy is a gendered insult, one that would get a significant nasty look from me and indicate that the person using it hasn't examined their male privilege.

Consider:

Pussy refers to female genitalia in non-insult contexts
Females are stereotyped as being weak, whiny, "shrill" (LOL), school-marmish, etc.
The term pussy-whipped obviously uses the word pussy to refer to women, not cats


Pretty good indicators to me that it's a gendered insult. I'm surprised by people who don't see it that way.

Call me a feminazi; call me shrill, whiny, school-marmish, oversensitive; call me a pussy, but I don't want anyone to use it on the site. I don't have the power to ban it, but if I did, I would ban it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:55 PM on October 28, 2010


Ban antiperspirant is marketed to women. When you say "Ban" you oh fuck nevermind. But last I checked a boric acid douche is indicated in cases of yeast infection.

The term pussy-whipped obviously uses the word pussy to refer to women, not cats

I'd say it is used to refer to the overwhelming instinct to have sex. And the men that subsume their self-interest in order to have sex.

Females are stereotyped as being weak, whiny, "shrill" (LOL), school-marmish, etc.
Please check your TV. Name one character that is as you described. One.
Now let's look at the idiot men. They are legion on sit-coms and commercials are rife.

I'd pause and pat your head but I've been elected to the Board in the whole Patriarchy thing and I'm late to our next meeting.
posted by vapidave at 11:11 PM on October 28, 2010


I always took pussy whipped to mean a man who has insufficiently asserted his manhood because he is controlled by a person with a vagina.

For whatever that's worth.
posted by angrycat at 4:39 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I share angrycat's understanding of the term pussy-whipped.
posted by bardophile at 5:24 AM on October 29, 2010


Fun, a wakeup poll. I vote vapidave has pussy whipped. Can we vote on how men define bitch next?
posted by Dano St at 5:47 AM on October 29, 2010


If it's the case that you indulge in that behavior, using "pussy" as an insult, and that's why you're upset that I feel the way I do...well, shit, I don't know what to tell you.

Hahahahh, nice try, really, but I'm not at all upset that you don't like the word "pussy" being used as an insult. I just think it's really disingenuous of you to say that this discussion is not about people when you are talking about people who use the word. Other people have talked about how using the word is crass, you have talked about the people who use the word. The fact that you didn't address people by name is completely moot.

You can get as bent out of shape about it as you like, but I don't see that doing so constitutes a good reason for me to change to my mind.

1) I'm not bent out of shape, and
2) Again with the irony.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:15 AM on October 29, 2010


Pretty good indicators to me that it's a gendered insult. I'm surprised by people who don't see it that way.

To respond more substantially: yes, it's obviously a gendered insult. So is "don't be a dick" which is actually a golden rule for many of us. My understanding is that being a gendered insult is itself not enough to put a word on the list that does not exist of that which cannot be said. It really needs to qualify as hate speech in same way as well. Does the usage that prompted this thread do so?
posted by Dano St at 6:18 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Unbelievable.
posted by juiceCake at 8:01 AM on October 29, 2010


I'm surprised this discussion has gone on this long, but since we're all offering out anecdata about how feel, here's mine.

While I can't remember the last time I used the word 'pussy' as an insult, either online or in real life, it strikes me that the kerfuffle as to whether the word is 'gendered' has been addressed in a fairly simplistic manner in this thread -- as though the fact that 'pussy' tends to refer to 'vagina', which is clearly a female-only body part, instantly makes the word 'gendered', and any 'gendered' insult is automatically one we ought not to use. To me this ignores the great body of evidence that, in English, we use all kinds of insults based around bodily functions and body parts, more so if they relate specifically to genitalia. To wit: pussy, dick, cock, fucker, asshole, wanker, cunt, shitbird, knobhead, etc. Some of them originate with female genitalia, some with male, and some with neither. They are all impolite and unacceptable in many contexts, not by virtue of being gendered insults, but because they are simply inappropriate language in all but the most informal of situations. Try using the word "cock" to describe your old boss in an interview and let me know if the reaction is any different to referring to him as a "pussy".

To truly be a 'gendered' insult, 'pussy' would have to have only negative connotations while calling some a 'cock' or a 'dick' would bring with it positive connotations. This is why the slut/stud dichotomy is a gendered issue, but pussy/dick is, in my view, not.

We shouldn't call each other around here pussies or dicks (though I admit to having probably called someone a dick on more than one occasion on MeFi), not because they are irrevocably gendered insults, but because they are simply rude and lower the level of discourse, unless of course it's done in a jovial way. Sometimes friends of mine, including women, refer to each other and refer to me using the insults I've listed, including pussy, as part of jovial banter. I think the issue on mefi is that we don't, for the most part, truly know each other that well, and it can be difficult to convey in text form a certain amount frivolity in our language.

So, to finish up this plate of beans, while I will continue to avoid using 'pussy' as an insult around these parts, and have no problem doing so, I reject the contention that it is a irrevocably gendered term and those that do use it on occasion ought to be subject to the full MeTa wrath.
posted by modernnomad at 8:38 AM on October 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


Obviously that's the meaning of "pussy whipped". That's my point. It's not referring to being controlled based on your love of a cat.

Pussy = female genitalia.

To say otherwise is to be ignorant (willfully or otherwise).

Because pussy = female genitalia and the insult lines up with female stereotypes, it's obviously a gendered insult.

I would ban the hell out of it if I ran this website.

(There you go, someone ACTUALLY calling for a ban--although I'm not actually calling for it because I know it's not going to happen. Please feel free to flip out anyway and accuse me of trampling on your freedom of expression).
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:39 AM on October 29, 2010


There is no freedom of expression on a privately owned site. There is only what the owners decide we can and cannot say. Our freedom was curtailed the moment the first self-linker was banned, and we're all better off as a result.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:49 AM on October 29, 2010


I'm a little astonished myself this thread has continued, but it's also stayed very interesting. (Yes, words are a big preoccupation for me.)

For what it is worth, here is how urban dictionary defines "pussy whipped."

And this is wiktionary's definition.
posted by bearwife at 9:17 AM on October 29, 2010


How come Urban Dictionary wants me to buy:

pussy whipped mugs, tshirts and magnet
posted by angrycat at 9:46 AM on October 29, 2010


Pussy refers to female genitalia in non-insult contexts

Agreed.

Females are stereotyped as being weak, whiny, "shrill" (LOL), school-marmish, etc.

Agreed, but what does that have to do with the word 'pussy'? To me, in one sense, pussy means weak or whiny. But I have no mental association of 'pussy' to shrill or marmish.

The term pussy-whipped obviously uses the word pussy to refer to women, not cats

Again agreed, the pussy in pussy whipped refers to female genitalia. But I don't think it of it as a man being controlled by a dirty, nasty vagina, but as somebody putting their sexual desires above their common sense. It would makes sense to me in any combination of people fucking that you can think of: a dude could be pussy whipped by a dude or a chicken. So could a lady, but I'd see her as exhibiting masculine behavior as "the lizard brain" is a male stereotype.

If one mefite calls another a pussy or pussy whipped that mefite would lose quite a bit of esteem in my opinion. If they refer to somebody off site that way, it would depend on context, but agree with others here that it's usually a lazy form of expression. But if they say "haunted houses are for pussies" referring to their own FPP? Meh. Could be better, but so could every contribution here. I don't think a noob should be chastised for daring to speak as they are comfortable, unless it's something really bad but defining really bad is tricky.

Calling that title lazy seems fair to me. I'll even grant tainted with misogyny. I don't deny patriarchy exists, and it finds its way into common idioms. But there has to be a line for where its appropriate to police and where it is not. If "haunted houses are for pussies" is subject to banning*, does ""haunted houses are for scaredy cats" get banned too? It's been argued it has the same etymology.

*banning being whatever community correction is applied: deleting, editing, mod callout, mefite callout, flagging, snark, hate mail.
posted by Dano St at 9:50 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]



For what it is worth, here is how urban dictionary defines "pussy whipped."


I loved how the fourth definition is:

when ur girlfriend is the penis of the relationship.

There's something magical about the layers of gendered language there.
posted by Forktine at 9:52 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anecdotal point: I have two male friends who grew up together. One friend's like adolescent nickname for the other is "Stever." Apparently there was some some rhyme that involved Stever/eager/beaver. For slightly obvious reasons, the friend is forbidden by Stever to now call him Stever.

Anyways, I'm not sure eager/beaver = pussywhipped as it is mostly used, as it does when the desire to have sex is a key part of the definition. NB: This is based on the few times I've heard it used myself. I think I used it once because I was trying to be deliberately offensive, for contextual reasons.
posted by angrycat at 9:52 AM on October 29, 2010


*banning being whatever community correction is applied: deleting, editing, mod callout, mefite callout, flagging, snark, hate mail.

Banning is a word that has a very specific meaning on this site, so it might be a better idea to pick another word. When someone is banned from this community, they no longer get to comment and, for the most part, are not considered community members when we make moderator decisions based on community input. It's a big step, it's a step that only the mods can make, and it's something we take seriously.

Having people give input to how they feel about language, or spelling, or regional dialects, or word choice, is something that every community member should participate in if they feel so moved. We'll speak up as mods if we're seriously considering a policy change [as I mentioned above, this is not one of those times] but we encourage constructive feedback and community discussion in MetaTalk. Flagging is a necessary part of how this community functions, it is not at all like banning. Deletion of posts is not at all like banning and people who feel that it is may have problems interacting here over the long run.

Similarly, if people have the right to post without pre-posting approval, they also have the responsibility to deal with criticism appropriately. When things get really out of control, we can show up to make sure things are staying within guidelines, but community corrections in a general sense are an integral part of how this site works and is supposed to work. Lumping any negative feedback under the heading of banning negates the responsibility that community members have towards each other in both positive and negative feedback ways.

I am aware that there are some people who feel much more strongly about the negative impact of negative feedback [and we'd like people to try to be reasonable when they're doing it] but saying "this sort of thing doesn't work for me" is a part, a large part, of how MetaFilter works.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:02 AM on October 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


When I say "ban" I don't mean "flag" or "admonish" or even "chastise", I mean delete it when it happens and if it keeps happening from one person, tell them to knock it the fuck off.

That's banning something.

Flagging it or chastising the person who says it (no, not even chastising!) is not banning it.

As for community policing, no, there doesn't need to be a bright line. It's a community and there are many people here with different opinions and experiences, and that's a strength.

Example, I didn't know that some people see "douchebag" as a misogynistic term. Now I know so I don't go around saying it and sounding ignorant. Knowing how a diverse group of people feel about something I do is a good thing. It makes me less likely to sound like an inconsiderate asshole.

If you were walking around with your pants falling down, you'd want someone to tell you. Using words like "pussy" is the equivalent. There are people out there who will think you're a sexist fool for using it. So you can say NO DON'T TELL ME IF I SAY SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME LOOK BAD, CENSORSHIP!!! YOUR FEELINGS ARE IRRELEVANT!!! or you can say "thanks for sharing your experience, I didn't realize that it made me look bad to use that word, and I'll be more thoughtful about it in the future."

Learning things you didn't know: a good thing.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:10 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


On pussy as a gendered slur:

I'm reading this book The Kept Man and I came across this passage yesterday. The last paragraph succiently describes the view of pussy as a gendered slur. And since the conversation is still ongoing, I thought I'd share. And Jarvis, the narrator, is a woman. Everyone else is male.


Mal sits up straight. "I gotta get out of here. This place is driving me nuts. Jarvis, we're going to get a drink. You want in?"

Without hesitation, I nod. To have another moment with them, no matter how small, was thrilling.

Mal glares at Scotty. "Come on, man, don't worry about your mother-in-law. It's your one day in months without the baby. Let's go have some fun."

Scotty folds his arms across his chest, guns on barrel. "Oh Mal, my friend, you have no understanding of what it's like once you have a baby. Even if they're not there, they're still there. And when I go home smelling like beer and cigarettes, she can smell it on me. Deep in her subconscious. And some day, when she's, like, thirty, and she's sitting in a therapist's office, she's going to remember that her daddy used to come home drunk. And then she'll blame me for everything."

I think about my father for a moment. Was there a time when he didn't smell like beer and cigarettes?

"Okay, but what if you don't smoke?" says Mal. "And then you just, like, chew a bunch of gum afterward. Then she won't smell a thing."

"It's kind of a psychic thing," says Scotty. I could tell Mal was losing him.

Tony stops speaking into the phone and holds it to his chest. He turns to Scott and says, sharply, "Don't be a pussy," and then returns to his phone.

Don't be a pussy. These are the words that have launched street fights and corporate takeovers and wars. Fraternity pranks. Racial violence. Manifest destinies, all tied up in the idea that whatever you do, don't be sensitive, frail flower, don't be less than a man, for Chrissakes don't be a girl. And these are the words that will convince a loyal father he really needs to get drunk in the middle of the afternoon.

posted by nooneyouknow at 10:16 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry jessamyn. I was responding to the young rope-rider's use of ban,while trying to make it clear I didn't mean it in a literal or site-specific sense. Perhaps I failed to do so.
posted by Dano St at 10:17 AM on October 29, 2010


If you were walking around with your pants falling down, you'd want someone to tell you. Using words like "pussy" is the equivalent.

Actually, some people walk around with their pants falling down as a stylistic choice. They actually don't need people to tell them their pants are falling down. Using "pussy" as an insult is equivalent. Not everyone who uses the word is unaware that it's crass.

There are people out there who will think you're a sexist fool for using it. So you can say NO DON'T TELL ME IF I SAY SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME LOOK BAD, CENSORSHIP!!! YOUR FEELINGS ARE IRRELEVANT!!! or you can say "thanks for sharing your experience, I didn't realize that it made me look bad to use that word, and I'll be more thoughtful about it in the future."

Or 3) you can say "I'm cool with some people think I'm a sexist fool for using the word, because from personal experience I can tell you that many non-sexist intelligent people use the word, and I'm not going to stop using it." I mean, I can respect your opinion without having to change my behavior.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:24 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


[pussy whipped] as somebody putting their sexual desires above their common sense

This is interesting. I've never encountered that interpretation before. I'll have to take a poll at the Hallowe'en party this weekend. (For purposes, to be very clear, of taking a poll. Not for telling the people there that they can't use "pussy" or variants thereof anymore.)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:25 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Coincidentally, I'll be going as a pussy whip.
posted by found missing at 10:26 AM on October 29, 2010


You know, it wouldn't take much to make it so that certain words appear online as asterisks when they're keyed into the comment or posting fields posted. Online BBSs have been doing that for decades. I bet PB could whip the code up in his sleep.
posted by crunchland at 10:50 AM on October 29, 2010


That will never, ever happen here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:53 AM on October 29, 2010 [11 favorites]


But I think there's a huge number of people here who would like to see it.
posted by crunchland at 10:54 AM on October 29, 2010


For people who find that idea appealing, there is always Greasemonkey.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:55 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, f*** that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:57 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


What the h***?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:57 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


But I think there's a huge number of people here who would like to see it.

I think you overestimate this number.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:58 AM on October 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


You know, it wouldn't take much to make it so that certain words appear online as asterisks

* ***** fuck *** asshole * pussy-ass motherfucker ***** ****.

Hmm, you are right, it does have a certain charm to it.
posted by Forktine at 11:03 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think you overestimate this number.

I think you're overstating that number for rhetorical effect.

Unless "a huge number" is one of those words like "a few" which can mean any number of quantities but mostly means "three"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:04 AM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


They already star out passwords if you add them, it shouldn't be that hard to filter out other things -- see, here's mine:

**********

Try it!
posted by empath at 11:31 AM on October 29, 2010


voteforodonnell

DOH!
posted by morganannie at 11:39 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, I guess, next time we get someone who flinches about something, we can just point them to greasemonkey.
posted by crunchland at 12:10 PM on October 29, 2010


Fuck the heck.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:10 PM on October 29, 2010


crunchland, I can't even tell who you're fighting with anymore. Was that a poke at Jess and cortex? or bearwife? or the TYRR? or just anybody who said they don't like the word? You sound so incredibly bitter, and I'm not getting why.
posted by taz at 1:24 PM on October 29, 2010


Nah. You're reading more into it than I wrote. I'm saying that there are technical ways to take care of the problem is all.
posted by crunchland at 1:57 PM on October 29, 2010


I'm saying that there are technical ways to take care of the problem is all.

Only if the reason this was posted was to request a script, and of course that wasn't my reason. I'm interested in discussing the language I see, as are others on this site, not in shielding my ability to read what is said.
posted by bearwife at 4:19 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just bought a copy of Keith Richard's biography so I'm in a 'what would Keith Richards do?' frame of mind.

He'd say "What're you all blathering on about?"

Then he'd ask if you had any heroin.
posted by jonmc at 6:49 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd never thought of "eager beaver" as having anything to do with the slang term for a female anatomy. I thought it was because they were industrious and productive (the beavers, though the specifically female anatomy can be industrious and productive as well, but that is more at intervals and limited to a range of years).

The Free Dictionary says: "eager beaver: someone who is very enthusiastic; someone who works very hard. New volunteers are always eager beavers. The young assistant gets to work very early. She's a real eager beaver."
posted by vapidave at 8:48 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


sorry to not be more clear: the eager beaver thing was a pre-adolescent joke that took the "eager beaver" as it is usually used and made it into a thing where the guy was eager for beaver.

I feel kind of gross explaining it. Beaver has always struck me as a really weird slang for vagina.
posted by angrycat at 9:02 PM on October 29, 2010


Try having a beaver as your national animal. And of course, if you shave it, everyone mistakes it for a naked mole rat. It's just plain awkward.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:08 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Where eez your eenveetation, Señor Beaver?" Ten Gatorpoints for anybody who gets that reference. Gatorpoints redeemable anywhere in the United States. Except Alaska and Hawaii, the freak states.
posted by Gator at 9:12 PM on October 29, 2010


Yawwwwwwn.
posted by quadog at 11:23 AM on October 30, 2010


Beaver has always struck me as a really weird slang for vagina.

Well, in this age of Brazilian waxes, sure, but think back to the old days and it all makes sense...
posted by jonmc at 5:32 PM on October 30, 2010


Astro Zombie: "Just because you don't feel the need doesn't mean somebody else might not. I would suggest that people who feel this topic has been over-addressed simply steer clear of these sorts of threads"
Alvy Ampersand: "Oh for fuck's sake, I meant in this MeTa"

Hah, don't worry I wasn't flaming out. I would have made SO MUCH MORE NOISE if I were flaming out.

I took a break because folks whom I generally respect (who are on my contact list, for fuck's sake!) are making arguments that I strongly disagree with— which is a sign that I've lost perspective. Sorry guys.

I might be too soft for these internet arguments (especially about gender, where I seem to hold unpopular views) so I'm going to apply AZ's advice more broadly and just skip them altogether.
posted by yaymukund at 9:43 AM on November 16, 2010


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