October 17, 2008

It's in the Words, Dude

I find it a little disturbing that a lot of today's derogatory remarks reinforce the power of The Penis and the subordination of The Vagina. It just seems to me that all the lingo reinforces the stereotype that men are powerful and women are weak. I'm not trying to go on a tirade, I am really trying to understand. I understand calling someone a dick or a prick, both slang for penis, is a negative use of male genitalia. I'm not saying that women have the corner on the negative slang market. I'm just pointing out that I think the majority of pejorative terms are based on male dominance.

*A warning to you weak of heart. I use some strong words in this post.*

Take for example how people of various genders say things like that sucks or that blows. The connotation that something can suck is to imply that fellatio is only pleasurable to the receiver not the giver; that it asserts power over the giver. The giver is somehow weaker than the receiver. And in heterosexual relationships the giver is a lady. So a lady is weak just because she's the giver... Some people take it even further by proclaiming suck my dick to the person who pisses them off. It's like saying, "You are so not cool that the only thing I can say to you is you need to put my penis in your mouth. How about that for dominance, sir?" Really, I think it's all lame.

There is also the use of the p-word. You know, the other word for a vagina or a kitty cat- pussy. Oh, did that make you cringe? Pussy pussy pusssssssy. People use that word to denote someone who is weak. Using pussy insinuates that the vagina is the weaker of the two genitalia. I disagree. Maybe it has something to do with penetration. I don't really know. But I did find this from Take Our Word For It:
Pussy as a slang term for the female pudenda is thought to derive ultimately from Low German puse "vulva" or Old Norse puss "pocket pouch." It didn't arise in English with a sexual meaning until the 19th Century, but prior to that it had been used for women in general. It has since come to mean "effeminate, feeble, or homosexual men or boys."
So, that reinforces that pussy is derogatory. I just wish I understood how the etymology progressed to be something negative. It's a bummer.

The etymology of pussy hasn't been studied as much as the etymology of the c-word or cunt. What was that? Does that word make you uncomfortable? Cunt cunt cuuuuuunt. I once saw a book in the feminist literature section of my local bookstore simply titled Cunt. Apparently it was about how the word used to be of power for women; that being a cunt was ultimately a good thing. I didn't buy the book because for some reason I was afraid of what people would think if the book was on my shelf. I regret not buying it. Nevertheless here is a very interesting essay about the progression of The Most Hated Word in the English Language. (He touches very briefly on twat, which is British slang for vagina- slang I find the most humorous of all the slangs in the world for vagina.)

There are other sexual words and phrases that are meant to be hurtful i.e. fuck you but as many genders are able to fuck, as the kids say, it has lost it's heterosexual male/female dominance factor. Anyone can fuck anyone. Especially if you ask the Sex and the City people.

I'm guilty of saying something sucks, however lately I've been trying to say that stinks instead. I do say that sucks when I'm really angry. And I've been known to use both pussy and cunt when I'm trying to make a serious point. I guess I'm trying to take ownership of the words back. If I, a woman, use the words against a man, am I being derogatory to myself? I don't think so. I believe if anything, I'm turning those words on their figurative ear. I'm going to try to take the negative power away from those words. After all, words only have the power we give them.

1 comment:

dad said...

Talk about the power of words...this felt like the written equivalent of a really large door slammed shut and broken off the hinges, or possibly a table lamp hurled through a plate glass window...over and over. And yet, you tell me you wrote this quite unemotionally, pondering the sexism of slurs. It was hard to read!