Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I Will Quit Beating This Dead Horse When You Pry the Club from my Cold, Dead Fingers

Yes, it's more language nerdery!

I was gonna post this at Pandagon but, honestly, I think I've done enough to drive its traffic into the gutter for awhile. Let me nurse my obsessiveness here, instead.

In this post, I said:

Do you really need to talk about how Ann Coulter looks? It doesn’t actually hurt Ann–you know, Ann, bestselling author, fabulously successful (if repulsive) media personality, that Ann?–if you type on your blahg that she’s Mann Coulter. She doesn’t read your stupid blog. She doesn’t CARE. The transgendered person who settles in for a fun evening of Coulter-bashing at your stupid blog, however, who discovers hirself being used as the chief weapon against Ann–that person cares. Ditto the liberal women who have to read about what a skank she is. WE care.

And we remember that there yet exist men who can criticize conservative women without going there, and we read them instead. So, really, fuck you and your eighth-grade drag queen jokes.

And I was pretty tickled when this earned a response from Roy Edroso, the blogger linked in the excerpt above. Roy said, in part:

Also, I still say "cunt" and "pussy" a lot. Now, when used in reference to the female pudend, these terms should be unobjectionable to any thinking person. But sometimes I use them in unflattering reference to human behaviors, and that can raise -- and has raised, in my comments -- objections that I am saying something bad about women by using female genital referents as negatives.

My only answer is this: language is my metier, and I try to use it to my best advantage. One of the best tools toward that end is the unexpected choice. Sometimes I put academic, literary, or other elevated types of language into situations that do not seem to call for them. (George Plimpton was a pro at this schtick. I remember him writing about Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre, and saying of an act that was about to emphatically get the hook, "The crowd desired that he would be silent.")

Sometimes I go another way and use crude language as a crotch-kick against pretension -- as when I called this thick-necked Men's Rights blowhard a pussy. As for "cunt," well, it's just a fun word.

Pass over that last bit for a second because it's the part about "the unexpected choice" I want to talk about first--or rather, I want to say that the unexpected choice, the change-up, the decision to go vulgar against pretension and pretentious against vulgarity--none of that is at all what anyone was objecting to in any of the myriad discussions that sprung up in the wake of this post. At least, I don't think anyone was doing that; it was, after all, a very long thread.

But the funny thing about Roy saying "Sometimes I go another way and use crude language as a crotch-kick against pretension" is that I'd had just such an example of his cited in an attempted gotcha-you're-a-hypocrite maneuver by someone in the Feministe thread. The question:

*What* do you guys read around here in the way of other liberal blogs? Roy just said ‘cunt’ a bunch of times today, so plainly he hates all women and should be blacklisted.

My response:

Roy’s cunt thing: I wasn’t too bothered by that, since one of the points was to use as many of the seven dirties as possible to show how ridiculous a standard for moral rightness “no cussing” is when the ideas you’re espousing are reprehensible. I wince every time I see the c-word, and Roy’s post was no exception to that, but I saw the joke, and Roy’s too hilarious for me to quit.

And now, NOW we can talk about "cunt" being "just a fun word to say:" Sure it is, when you're a guy. When you've had it directed at you personally, not to refer to your parts but to reduce you to them, it's not such a blast. Roy gets this, I think, but the kinds of guys who want a cookie for being bravely Politically Incorrect(TM) never do.

But beyond that bit of obviousness, there is the further obviousness--or so I considered it to be, before the thread that ate the internet--that the way the word is being used, what it means in a particular context, affects how people react to it. That's why I could give a halfhearted pass to the use of "cunt" in Roy's post mocking the idea that it's only dirty words that make a thing uncivil: It's used once to insult Instapundit as a "stupid cunt," and then a second time to refer to the female pudend (Michelle Malkin's, as it happens). In fact, if I were inclined to target that post as an example of hate speech, I'd be far more likely to go after "stanky-ass cum buckets" and "twinky-ass bitch" than the instances of the c-word.

But I'm not inclined to target that post, because the point of that post isn't to tell women to shut up and make Roy a sandwich, or to tell 'em to wipe the ejaculate off their chins, or to shame fatty into a fad diet or onto the treadmill. The point of that post is to make plain that reprehensible ideas are reprehensible no matter how you word 'em, civilly or uncivilly. Or to give you the thesis:

If some stupid cunt says we're "not anti-war, just on the other side," why the fuck shouldn't we call the motherfucker out?

Exactly. But again, addressing the bravely Politically Incorrect(TM) who refuse to see the difference:

Call 'em uptight, call 'em oversensitive, call 'em whatever you like, but it turns out most feminists, and more'n a few just plain women, find being reduced to a hot-or-not fuckhole, rather than being treated like the human beings they actually are, reprehensible. And THAT is the idea behind 99.95% of the usage of "cunt." That's its most popular meaning: A woman scarcely worth the organ she's providing a life-support system for. That's what's vile, not the word itself. We are not being language police when we say "please quit calling us cunts;" we are being worse than that. We are being idea police, and we'd like the idea that you cockslaps have any right to dehumanize us, any of us, to die, now. It is past time.

And as I've been round and round and round again about this enough times to know what's coming, here's my response:

The reason you shouldn't call out that motherfucker Dafydd ab Hugh for being too fat to serve in the military, despite his being the best thing that ever happened to war porn, is that it misses the fucking point, which is that whether he weighed 98 pounds or 298 pounds he was never going to serve anyway, because that type never does; and in between the real point and the dumb point you chose to make was an area wide enough (ho, ho!) to accommodate a gaggle of halfwits who couldn't even follow the dumb point all the way through--and thus was "too fat to serve in the military he claims to adore" abbreviated to "too fat."

And thus were innocent large persons annoyed, and thus did they complain, and here I must observe for only the 473rd time that "complain" is not synonymous with "blacklist," "police," or "prohibit." So quit pitching a fit about the PC-police at Feministe already, ya fuckin' douchebags, because last I checked the Piny Campaign for Language Dictator had run into fundraising difficulties, so I really don't think you need to worry about having your rights infringed upon from that quarter. Maybe take your own advice and fight the real enemy? I don't know.

And with that, I am done. Call me if the horse gets up again, but I think he's done too.

UPDATE: Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

A cursory read of the comments at alicublog makes it pretty plain that the commenters are reading Roy as agreeing with their position that it's totally okay to use "cunt" whenever you want to, because the problem always lies with the silly-ass cunts who get offended when you do so; just like the problem with "nigger" isn't its oppressive usage history, but rather the rampant-running PC Police who stir up those temperamental black folk to raise a needless fuss about it. This, for example, is fairly typical:

Here's another way to look at it: The staggering diversity of opinion on what cunt means just on this thread makes its intent cloudy no? Could mean a lot of things -- thus, like in MOST THINGS, context matters. And the context of nigger does too -- obviously.

But that doesn't even address the fact that blacks can choose all by themselves what they consider offensive, just as everyone else can.

The "staggering diversity of opinion on what cunt means," it will not surprise you to learn, is achieved almost entirely from members of the class who have traditionally used the term, and scarcely at all from members of the class against whom it has been used. Pardon my incivility, but fuck your fake diversity, you bubbling leg-dribbles of choleric shit.

So what'm I getting out of this? Chiefly, that there are more ostensible progressives out there than I thought who want to have it both ways. On the one hand, they want to dissociate themselves from assholes like these, feign shock and horror that similar-such behavior could be occuring in our most elite halls of learning, and congratulate themselves on not being one bit like that themselves* because they appreciate and understand context, see.

On the other hand, they want to throw a motherfucking neverending tantrum, weeping and wailing and gnashing teeth all over the internet, anytime someone points out that their understanding of the context is incomplete due to the unavoidable limitations of their own lived experiences--a point which should be obvious, and which any of these jackboot-licking nerds could easily prove or disprove merely by walking up to any large man of African-American descent and explaining to him why he shouldn't choose to find the n-word offensive. But these whiny-ass tittybabies aren't going to do that, because deep down they know that's going to end in an ass-kicking, with the probability of the ass getting kicked being theirs approaching 1.

So let's take swipes at the dumb cunt feminazis, instead. What can they possibly do about it?


*No slam meant against junk science; just noting that the closing lines:

We need to spend time shaking our heads that such people exist and congratulating ourselves for being better than them. We don’t need to be above pointing out that we’re better than them.

--reflect perfectly the attitude of the guys who told us they could take whichever cheap shots they wanted to because they're on the side of the angels. You aren't, but you could be, though until you are, I hope you choke. The End.

22 comments:

wolfa said...

The "unexpected choice" of insulting a man by referring to him as a "pussy"? Why yes, that *is* unexpected; I've never ever heard that before. Except, you know, every time people want to call a man a coward.

norbizness said...

You can never overstate the ameliorative effect of utilizing a Glaswegian accent when saying the c-word. Because then it sounds like coont.

Lesley Plum said...

Why do you want Teh Right Wingz to win?

/concern troll

I am increasingly amazed at the ability of some of the whiners to find ever more bizarre rationales for their use of sexist and/or homophobic slurs as long as they're used against the "proper targets." Really, they're not the WMD of left wing attacks on right wingers. They're the proverbial gun that gets turned back on us. I don't care how many times one of them insists "If we're not as dirty as they are, we'll keep losing." Repeating it over and over without a shred of evidence to back it up doesn't make it true. The next time I wind up reading some right winger writing "Ha, look how hypocritical the left is! They're the *real* sexists, racists, homophobes, etc." I want to plaster it on their virtual houses.

The reason most people don't have as much of a problem when someone like Rude Pundit does it is he doesn't pretend to have some moral motives behind it. He doesn't pretend it's some vaunted use of Teh Irony (that will be lost on its intended audience, making at best totally unsuccessful irony). He just does it. So while I, personally, don't like it any better when he does it, I am at least spared the Now With Extra Annoyance! factor of the "Oh, but don't you understand that this a morally superior use of these terms." Just because someone's general political positions might be morally superior to their opponent's doesn't automatically render their tactics so.

Heraclitus said...

Why do liberals have to be so pretentious when they're called on their use of misogynist language? "Language is my metier"? Another reason I think so highly of Amanda is that she never tried to compare herself to Masaccio, trying to revolutionize our perspective on language and the political. She was just all, "Goddamned right I have a fuckin' potty mouth. You limpdicked would-be wankers got a problem with that?"

I agree with wolfa that misogynist language doesn't get a pass so long as it's directed at dudes. I don't know about the blog or the post you're discussing here, but the seaward and such, like "faggot," only have bite because of the prejudice. Although I've never liked misogyny or insulting women, I've called other men cunts and bitches before. I didn't see that there was necessarily a problem with it until someone (I think zuzu) pointed out on a Feministe thread that those insults only work because it's considered some terrible thing to be a woman. That sounds so crazy the mind rebels, but it's really the only explanation that makes any sense. So I, at least, don't think "Well, I called Reynolds a cunt, too" really works as a get out of jail free card.

jiggavegas said...

Oh, thank God. Now maybe the "you try walking through the mall with Ann Coulter" jokes will finally die.

And hopefully, snide references to Feministe/language police/THOSE UNFUNNY JERKS WHO WON'T LET US SAY BAD WORDS ZOMG along with them.

Heraclitus said...

"So let's take swipes at the dumb cunt feminazis, instead. What can they possibly do about it?"

I heard they'll castrate ya bitch ass.

ilyka said...

I heard they repealed the First Amendment!!11!

the bewilderness said...

It was the 'unexpected' idea that struck me also. I'm guessing that since being called a womans body part as a derrogatory slur is outside his daily experience he has the luxury of considering it the unexpected. Why worry about the half of the population that is sick and tired of being the default insult for the other half. Asshat is an appropriate term for people who have their head so firmly pressed into their anus that they cannot see what would be staring them in the face were they not an asshat.

Carl said...

their understanding of the context is incomplete due to the unavoidable limitations of their own lived experience

Word. Could this be inscribed somewhere, in large, blinking, neon letters?

Or I could just redirect all incoming requests to my blog (all 3 of them) to tekanji's privilege post.

ilyka said...

Carl, thanks! If you could drop me a link to your blog we could see about upping those numbers.

Seriously, if there's one thing I learned this week it's that the two most effective means of making a white guy lose his shit are to:

1. Imply even vaguely that he could ever be mistaken for somebody's bitch, or to

2. Imply he wasn't born knowing everything.

I am tired of having willfully ignorant people talk to me as though I were stupid, when the whole reason they're ignorant in the first place is because they view "listening" to anyone outside their own privileged-guy echo chambers as such a faggy thing to do.

KMTBERRY said...

Well, Ilyka, at least you have the comfort of being RIGHT. I am not being snarky; you are just totally right, and all the smarter, nicer people agree with you.

The one thing I learned is exactly what you learned: some white liberal dudes just WON'T examine their behavior, and will die defending it knee-jerk and off the cuff. They simply refuse to consider that they might be wrong. To an embarrassing, and beyond-embarrassing degree.

(I kind of detect an undertone of "wah, we already had to give up n______r and Faggot; if we have to give up Fatso and Cunt, this just won't be FUN anymore!")

Lesley Plum said...

Oy vey, did they really pull out the CONTEXT MATTERS!!11!!!ELEVEN!! bullshit? Well, no shit to them. If you're using the term "cunt" to describe what someone sexist might say or in a description of something that occurred, then the context renders its use non-problematic.

But when you're using it as to insult someone else, the context is that you're using it as an insult. That's the entire context. It doesn't become less of an insult that's based upon the idea that being like a woman is horrible if you use it against one person vs. another. Or if you only use it in situations where the other person has used sexist language themselves. So if you do use it as an insult, context only matters in so far as it allows you to continue to delude yourself that you're not being sexist.

As for the choosing to find something offensive or not thing, I think these guys shouldn't be the slightest bit offended when I say they're sexist asshats. After all context matters. In the context of their using insults based on women's bodies, saying they're sexist asshats isn't an insult. It's an accurate description. So they should totally choose not to be offended. Right?

Anonymous said...

The "staggering diversity of opinion on what cunt means," it will not surprise you to learn, is achieved almost entirely from members of the class who have traditionally used the term, and scarcely at all from members of the class against whom it has been used. Pardon my incivility, but fuck your fake diversity, you bubbling leg-dribbles of choleric shit.

Have I mentioned lately that I love you? Because I do. Deeply.

Jesus Christ, it's so tiresome when these guys expend so much bandwith to rationalize their use of an insult, and then pretend that there's nothing offensive about it, even when people are telling them it's offensive.

That one guy even acknowledged that "cunt" was a term often hurled at victims of abuse, as part of their abuse, but rather than come to the obvious conclusion that maybe it's an abusive and degrading term, he instead pulled some "bitches gotta get desensitized" rationale out of his ass.

Because, see, we're actually helping the little ladies when we spit dehumanizing epithets at them.

zuzu

schemanista said...

How is it not blisteringly obvious that if I hold a certain value, then I don't act contrary to that value?

I'm thinking a so-called "progressive" who can use the word "cunt" and then metaphorically pat a woman on the cheek and say "oh, honey, I was just being ironic", has missed a memo or two.

schemanista said...

Heraclitus:Why do liberals have to be so pretentious when they're called on their use of misogynist language?

To defend their privelege? To avoid admitting they're wrong? How many guesses do I get?

I heard they'll castrate ya bitch ass.

I know how you meant this, but still, the worst insult we can offer a dude is to imply that there's something womanish about him.

The terrorists have won!

roy said...

I appreciate the feedback. In matters of word choice, I neither ask nor give quarter. So I am definitely not seeking a feminism pass to use the word "cunt." If I lose some of you on that score, well, I deserve it. I'm not entitled to anyone's admiration or readership.

On some matters you just have to go it alone. I take the arguments I've read here seriously, but in the final analysis I'll make my writing decisions based on my own standards. That this makes me sound like many other eminent horses' asses is regrettable. But believe it or not, some things are more important even than being right.

Anonymous said...

...some things are more important even than being right.

Sure, Roy - things like decency, or kindness. Crafting the oh-so-perfect-sentence-to-show-those-cunts, well, not so much.

bellatrys said...

Well, roy, it's always nice to know who, in the end, is *not* on one's side. Thanks for making it so plain, so I know now not to even bother taking you seriously as a human being, no matter how many other smart things you may have said that I agree with. How brave and courageous you are, to leap in and endorse the status quo of conservative masculine privilege against the Feminazi Hordes, right alongside of your good buddy Rush...

--Ilyka, what we see here is that the Brotherhood of Lad transcends all mere political parties and ideologies...

grendelkhan said...

... which any of these jackboot-licking nerds could easily prove or disprove merely by walking up to any large man of African-American descent and explaining to him why he shouldn't choose to find the n-word offensive. But these whiny-ass tittybabies aren't going to do that, because deep down they know that's going to end in an ass-kicking, with the probability of the ass getting kicked being theirs approaching 1.

So... is that just a coincidence, or are you stereotyping black men as violent?

Lesley Plum said...

So... is that just a coincidence, or are you stereotyping black men as violent?

I think Ilyka's just saying that nearly any man faced with some jackass explaining to him why he shouldn't choose to find a particularly vile insult offensive would punch said jackass. We just happen to be discussing the "bravery" of white guys' political incorrectness, which seems to be verbally uttered directly only to women. Ilyka's hypothesis seemingly is this is because most men aren't afraid that women will punch them in retaliation, whereas when it comes to men in general, they are afraid of that result.

As it also so happens, there are no dehumanizing insults that are specific to white men. Funny, that.

Lesley Plum said...

I should update my last comment to say "women or men significantly smaller than they are." The basic gist being that it's not particularly brave to only utter offensive comments to people you aren't afraid will punch you.

ilyka said...

Lesley's got it, but for the record, no: I am acknowledging that said stereotype exists, and that a hierarchy exists such that women are generally perceived as less threatening than black men. None of this should be taken to mean that I wish to perpetuate either stereotype. I do not.

I am also saying some of these white boy nerds are only persuaded to check themselves by consideration of the possible consequences of not checking themselves, and I am saying that is wrong. "Because someone might kick my ass if I don't stop [behavior]" doesn't get you morality points, progressive points, or in fact any points at all.