James Zakany writes:
>>I dunno, guys. She
seems to fit the colloquial definition of
>>which is 'spiteful woman' (Webster's II New
>>Dictionary). She also seems to fit her own
definition of the word
>>she likes to use so much: "slut."
>>Perhaps sunlion was simply being accurately
descriptive in the
>>simple, but vulgar, language of her admirers.
Dicky Dunn writes:
>Gotcha Zak, Hey Doc Charlie? I think in our high
minded zeal, we may
>be coming off like a couple of fundies.
Dr. Charlie writes:
I don't think we have to worry about that. Anyone of
average intelligence who reads my posts should have no
trouble realizing that I'm not a fundie, nor do I have a
problem with profanity. I cuss quite liberally here
myself. I am a Southerner after all, and I recall hearing
about a survey many years ago that found that Southerners
and New Yorkers (NYC) were the two groups in the U.S.
with the highest incidences of the use of vulgarity.
Worldwide, I think Hungarians were supposed to be the
most foul-mouthed. Kind of makes you want
to learn Magyar doesn't it?
I just think some terms go beyond the pale and should be
I understand Zakany's point that according to the
dictionary it could be said to be a perfectly accurate
description. However, there are connotations to the word
and a history of usage not covered by any dictionary.
Allow me bring up a personal note to explain:
When I was growing up in Tennessee, I thought that the
word nigger what was you called a black person who you
thought was an asshole. A bitch could likewise be said to
the word for a woman that you think is an asshole. But
just as the word nigger encodes a history of violence and
oppression, I think the word "bitch" does as
well. If one term cannot be divested of those overtones,
then the other cannot either.
The problem is that many people would agree with Zakany's
point and say a bitch is just a mean, unpleasant woman, a
female asshole, while few people, outside the South
especially, could be found willing to argue that nigger
can just mean a black asshole.
The reason for this is that the oppression of blacks has
been more "open" than the oppressive treatment
of women. (Or perhaps that relatively few men are willing
to face up to how women have been treated, or most men
want to say, "well, I don't treat women that
way!" and then ignore the problems that really do
exist.) It could be argued that the injustices to blacks
were more systematic, more institutional. I think that
the oppression of women could be seen as systematic and
even institutional (maybe in a more informal way) as
well. I think if women were asked they could voice some
pretty good support for this.
I think there maybe a problem of perception; people (men)
don't really realize how subtle some of the oppression
can be because they are never in the position to face it
themselves. So they think it's all illusionary, or women
make too much of it, or they focus on the progress that
women have made to say that it doesn't really exist
Now remember I come from a background where people used,
in effect, to deny that blacks were really oppressed.
Even during segregation they'd say "Well, we treat
our niggers pretty good around here, and never had any
problems. I don't think they're really oppressed at all.
They've got their own schools; their own this and that,
etc." They're focus on the superficialities and use
that to shield themselves from the the unpleasantries.
Now you may say that I'm somehow comparing apples and
oranges. And I think we should keep a stopwatch handy and
see how long it takes some idiot to try to
"refute" what I'm trying to say by hanging on
me the ad hominem labels of "feminazi" and
"gender-traitor." Yeah, I'm a pro-feminist
male. When I first came to grad school in Ohio I got
stuck in a TA office with some pretty intimiadating
feminists. I learned quickly to keep my mouth shut; then
I learned to open my eyes to some of the problems women
face in the real world that men aren't all that sensitive
to on the whole.
Consider domestic abuse. How many women are beaten or
killed by their husbands or boyfriends? Consider sexual
abuse. I think the figure there is supposedly 25%--one in
four women will be sexually assaulted at some point in
her life. Somebody may quibble with the numbers and
statistics, but I think that obviously there are an
intolerably large number of these crimes happening
everyday. What causes these crimes? I think it would
wrong to imagine them as just individual events. I think
the root of these crimes are attitudes--male attitudes
towards women and ways of seeing them which are negative
or degrading. Now not all men are at fault. Just as all
Southerners in the 50's 60's were not klansmen, most men
are not that strongly affected by these attitudes. But
they are there. I even see traces of them in myself
The topic of exploring what these attitudes consist of
can be taken up later if others are interested in
continuing that line of thought. Let me not go too much
at length, and just move to the next point, subtle forms
of oppression, wolf whistles, propositioning, even to an
extent oggling. The problem here is that you can't
eradicate male (hetero)sexuality. But you can recognize
how the behaviors characteristic of this reveal the
hidden presence of sexist attitudes in men who either
simply don't recognize, or refuse to recognize them.
The fact, in my eyes, is that women do live in a
threatening environment with all this; they face a lot of
fear in their lives because of all of this--real,
justifiable fear--and it *oppresses* them. They cannot
live their lives as freely or as fully as they should be
able to because they always have to be taking
precautions, looking over their shoulder's, living with
I think the word "bitch," considering how it is
often used to mean "a woman who doesn't conform to
male expectations of how she should act, or a woman who
doesn't give a man what he wants--who doesn't comply with
the role a man expects her to play" evokes all those
things for a woman when she hears it. I think that it
does have its roots in sexism--that it carried a lot of
meanings for a woman--in the images it summons up, the
impact it has when she is called that, in the subtle
attitudes it does reveal in many instances when it is
used--that a man does not realize. This applies even when
the man may not have wished it to carry that message, and
the man who said the word is not really a sexist.
That's why I think the use of the word should be
discouraged. Call her an asshole instead, if you
must--its a genderless term and doesn't carry that
baggage or have that impact on a woman.
>The Poster Formerly Known As
SunLion (PFKASL from here on out) is
>a proven wit and we may have focused too much on his
>use of language.
PFKASL is a man who clearly, one can tell from reading
his posts, is a very enlightened, open-minded individual
who has demonstrated extraordinary character. He just
doesn't/didn't see the same connections in the word that
I do/did. No one should get the impression from this that
PFKASL is in any way sexist. He just got carried away
because he has strong feelings of indignation in what he
sees DL as representing.
>I for one was chiming in behind
you, but was mainly
>referring to posts like Anonymous Coward's. I just
>"Eloquent Critics" thing so much that I had
to put my 2 cents in.
Clever Snowball, the ARC. I 'm still trying to figure out
if there's some clever allusion Dr. G intended with that
nickname. But even assholes may sometimes provide insight
to the wise, Dicky. Don't let your effusivenss turn into
>The other Jackyls have been
curiosly silent, an I think it's because
>the whole "language police" smell is a bit
>I understand and applaud your point, but I think Zak
said it best;
>"I don't know guys"
I have tried to explain my reasoning. Feel free to
express disagreement or present criticism (preferably of
the intelligent and productive sort).
I certainly don't want to set up a Politically Correct
Language Inquisition. I think some of the stuff that came
out of the PC fad was useful, but that it went too
far--e.g changing "handicapped" to
"differently abled." I liked Zakany's point
that in the sense of the dictionary definition it was an
accurate description. I love accuracy and precision in
the use of language. But I do think some terms carry
powerfully destructive, negative connotations and those
should be recognized as such. People should think twice
those terms. Plus there was the silly talk about DL going
What it boils down to is this: I'm not the morals or
language police of
artd-l. I can't stop PFKASL or anybody else from calling
DL a bitch. I can't kick PFKASL out of the Pack o'
Jackals or prevent him from calling himself a Jackal if
he wants too. I was just using that and my title of
Master of Language to provide a little leverage when
making my point: Jackals are supposed to be the best
posters here. Therefore, they should not make cretinous,
adolescent comments like that, and getting carried away
is no excuse. In the final analysis, I was just voicing
my individual opinion--that saying stuff like that about
DL goes too far. If people want to, I can't stop them.
But I can complain, and I won't have much respect for
people who can't make their feelings known in a more
mature fashion. PFKASL is very capable of doing that.
As far as my belief that these types of statements should
be discouraged--at least for anyone who aspires to Jackal
status--let me sum up with my strongest point. We get
enough flack from Laurettes as it is--let's not
needlessly give them more ammunition to use against us.
And remember the Master of Language did not announce any
formal restrictions on what you could call another
*poster.* I ain't policing people's personal spats around
>I'm not wearing underpants,
[obvious one-line retort omitted...to save space :)]
High Councilor of the New Usenet Order
Master of Language
Master of History
The Enemy on Both Sides