LizzieLou

Ironic Reclamation

I am interested to read what others think about this issue - using terms like queer or dyke, etc. to describe ourselves. I've heard different opinions about this over time. Some are very 'pro-reclamation,' others get really upset. For example, I went into a lesbian chat room once and used the word "lesbo" and got totally shut out, immediately. No one asked if I was a lesbo or even would have had time to check my profile or anything. I was bummed.

People prefer different terms, "lesbian" "gay" and all those alt spellings of "woman".

Does anyone feel strongly about any of these issues and if so, why?

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Hi, Nicole here.

I've heard the terms "dyke, lesbo, lemon, carpet muncher, licker, lesbian, muff muncher..." do I HAVE to go on? 

I'm from Australia so the terms may be different. I'm not offended by any of these terms due to the reason that I don't relate to labels very well. I'm labelled "bi" so I have often been described as a "double adapter, not fussed, swinger, pendelum, confused, unable to make up my mind..." I really don't want to go on  To me, it's how you feel about yourself, so the best way I can describe it is "Lesbian". It's safe, it's politically correct and non-offensive. I have made up my mind, it's not about gender to me, it's about the love I feel or the attraction to the other. To some that is called "lucky" hahaha! I am monogamous in a relationship, that's all I know how to be when I'm with someone I love. That's my idea of Queer Politics. I am, therefore, I am. What else matters?

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to me, frankly, it fully depends on who's saying what, and in what context. If its a straight guy calling lesbians "carpet munchers" yeah....its offensive, and frankly, i find that particular term offensive period. I realise that sometimes people take on an offensive term to remove the stigma of the word or phrase, but to me, that can be (tho isnt always) just a conformation to the ignorant of the word as being acceptable.....

Some things just defy explaination to me. Often, you'll hear someone that's African American (or whatever term is politically correct these days) call each other the "N" word, but dont you DARE let someone else say it. I assume that its acceptable in that instance because of what i said above.....taking power over the word sort of. But offensive is offensive to me......you NEVER hear a Jewish person call another a Kike...... (and here i sort of accidently proved my own point, i feel free to use that word in an explaination, because I'm jewish.....but I dont feel free to use the "N" word, tho they are equally as bad to each of our races....)

Some things are just redundant to me. People that seriously spell woman or women "wymmin" or something similar is just ridiculous to my way of thinking. So its okay to just create our own spellings for things because we dont want to be identified with men?? Its nuts, makes no sense in the larger scheme of things, and in my view, just makes us stand out in a negative way to the communities that we live in. Whenever I hear it, or see it, I want to say "Get a grip......you may not like men....but you came from one, so deal with it." I dont begrudge anyone using or believing in those terms or spellings, but I dont like to be talked down to or insulted by those that do, and that's happened. I realise its partly a difference between those that identify as feminists and those that are just women, but many 'feminists' will put down their "sisters" that dont agree with them, and that's wrong too.

Interestingly enough, i dont know ANY older lesbians that use those terms or spellings. I'm of course not saying that they dont, I'm just saying I've never come across it in MY world view. I know some that did, and stopped. I just asked one friend who's in her late 40's why she stopped, and she said "I grew out of it"..... Food for thought.....?

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Hey Tinker, how are ya?

I agree those terms can be offensive. And I think the world is in the state it is in due to the fact that we are so offensive and take such offense. When I was younger "politically correct" wasn't a term used. Somewhere along the line, we became quite "nasty". Or maybe we began to stand up for ourselves? But today, everyone has to be soooo careful. It's like you are constantly walking on eggshells, on thin ice...one wrong step and you fall, or crack. I think what we have to do is start realising that none of us are separate from one another. We separate, religion, sex, gender, race, bloody everything! We fooled ourselves into believing that one group is "better" than the other. Take away all the bullshit, the clothes, the labels, the values, the judgments, the need to be "right" and we are all the same. Living under the same roof. People "name" call, they "label" because they fear what they do not understand, instead of embracing others, other cultures. Religion, Sexism, Racism, any ism...one day, one fine day...the human race will see that we are all same being. So, all these labels are foolish and stupid and somehow people believe it helps them sleep better at night, knowing their world is how it should be. Reality is something we created and then distorted. And now, this is where we live. I think it's time we wake up.

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no longer active member said:

to me, frankly, it fully depends on who's saying what, and in what context. If its a straight guy calling lesbians "carpet munchers" yeah....its offensive, and frankly, i find that particular term offensive period. I realise that sometimes people take on an offensive term to remove the stigma of the word or phrase, but to me, that can be (tho isnt always) just a conformation to the ignorant of the word as being acceptable.....

Some things just defy explaination to me. Often, you'll hear someone that's African American (or whatever term is politically correct these days) call each other the "N" word, but dont you DARE let someone else say it. I assume that its acceptable in that instance because of what i said above.....taking power over the word sort of. But offensive is offensive to me......you NEVER hear a Jewish person call another a Kike...... (and here i sort of accidently proved my own point, i feel free to use that word in an explaination, because I'm jewish.....but I dont feel free to use the "N" word, tho they are equally as bad to each of our races....)

Some things are just redundant to me. People that seriously spell woman or women "wymmin" or something similar is just ridiculous to my way of thinking. So its okay to just create our own spellings for things because we dont want to be identified with men?? Its nuts, makes no sense in the larger scheme of things, and in my view, just makes us stand out in a negative way to the communities that we live in. Whenever I hear it, or see it, I want to say "Get a grip......you may not like men....but you came from one, so deal with it." I dont begrudge anyone using or believing in those terms or spellings, but I dont like to be talked down to or insulted by those that do, and that's happened. I realise its partly a difference between those that identify as feminists and those that are just women, but many 'feminists' will put down their "sisters" that dont agree with them, and that's wrong too.

Interestingly enough, i dont know ANY older lesbians that use those terms or spellings. I'm of course not saying that they dont, I'm just saying I've never come across it in MY world view. I know some that did, and stopped. I just asked one friend who's in her late 40's why she stopped, and she said "I grew out of it"..... Food for thought.....?

Yes, to everything she said. I won't even engage with someone who deliberately misspells woman or women; and while people are free to call themselves whatever derogatory terms they wish, I will not tolerate being called a dyke or queer or any of the other N-word-like euphemisms being bandied about by the hipster types. And good on gay men for not introducing themselves as fags/faggots. You teach people how to treat you; and if you don't respect yourself, how can you expect anyone else's respect. (I'm off to break into song, now.)

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Regardless of how you spell it - women, wimmin, wymmin,  whatever - if we are communicating verbally  it all sounds the same and I will still see "women" in my head. (Because I always see written words in my head instead of pictures). 

Additionally, Dyke and dike sound exactly the same and a dike, as you know, is a structure that retains water and could therefore be used to describe women of all orientations.

And yes - I do tend to have a rather queer sense of humor.

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Sammy Lynne said:

Regardless of how you spell it - women, wimmin, wymmin,  whatever - if we are communicating verbally  it all sounds the same and I will still see "women" in my head. (Because I always see written words in my head instead of pictures). 

Additionally, Dyke and dike sound exactly the same and a dike, as you know, is a structure that retains water and could therefore be used to describe women of all orientations.

And yes - I do tend to have a rather queer sense of humor.

I always love your posts. I just can't get behind the creative spellings because they seem to be reactionary, and the reactionary is, by nature, defensive and never coming from a place of self-confidence, and because I took Attic Greek as my language in college; and having some understanding of etymology, I know that the English word women is historically derivative, whereas the English word "men" is just a shortening of the Greek origin for "women". I like this, because all humans are inherently biologically female. Language reflects nature, if only by chance. "Man" is "Woman" but merely lacking. That's as radical feminist as I get ;)  

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Dani28 said:

I always love your posts. I just can't get behind the creative spellings because they seem to be reactionary, and the reactionary is, by nature, defensive and never coming from a place of self-confidence, and because I took Attic Greek as my language in college; and having some understanding of etymology, I know that the English word women is historically derivative, whereas the English word "men" is just a shortening of the Greek origin for "women". I like this, because all humans are inherently biologically female. Language reflects nature, if only by chance. "Man" is "Woman" but merely lacking. That's as radical feminist as I get ;)  

Thank-you. I find myself looking for you whenever there is new content on the site because I enjoy your posts as well. 

Man is woman but merely lacking? Oh, I am so telling this to every male coworker I come into contact with tomorrow!

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Sammy Lynne said:

Thank-you. I find myself looking for you whenever there is new content on the site because I enjoy your posts as well. 

Man is woman but merely lacking? Oh, I am so telling this to every male coworker I come into contact with tomorrow!

Thank you. Same :) And they are - they're lacking a second X chromosome, which carries so much genetic material, including an additional chance at a higher I.Q. In it's place, they have a Y, which carries only one command - that of the in utero sex change from female to male. The Y chromosome is also the smallest and most fragile of all human chromosomes. It is so unstable that there are murmurs in the field of genetics that nature will, as an evolutionary step, phase it out. Which is kind of sad, but also fascinating.

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This is reflecting my warped sense of humor: right now, I am hearing a Devo-esque song playing in my head that has the refrain "phase it out." Lol. I dearly love reading posts from you guys. Err, you two. You usually have most interesting things to say. I should follow you both. 

I remember when the alt spelling of "women" was much in vogue among a certain sort in the lesbian scene. That really irked me. I didn't think there was any need to abuse language to make a political point. If you need another work for "woman", there are many beautiful ones available, no need to misspell the nice one you have in English. I offered my local lesbian collective several from the Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic at my command but was rudely turned away as an elitist-and probably in the employ of the patriarchy. 

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keltheimpossible said:

I offered my local lesbian collective several from the Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic at my command but was rudely turned away as an elitist-and probably in the employ of the patriarchy. 

:D I so relate to this. I refuse to accept the proposition that my being gay means that I have to be petty or foolish. Smart is sexy. Stay sexy, my friend.

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keltheimpossible said:

I offered my local lesbian collective several from the Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic at my command but was rudely turned away as an elitist-and probably in the employ of the patriarchy. 

 

Dani28 said:

:D I so relate to this. I refuse to accept the proposition that my being gay means that I have to be petty or foolish. Smart is sexy. Stay sexy, my friend.

As shocking as it may be,  I have never belonged to a lesbian collective  (unless you count LESBOTRONIC, which I don't view as a single collective but rather as a bunch of random smaller ones).

The groups that I am aware of in my area hold no interest for me. Contrary to the misconceptions of the grossly uninformed,  merely being lesbian is not enough of a reason for me to join your group - or to even like you for that matter.

Despite this, I am quite familiar with the sentiment. I have been dismissed on multiple occasions by so-called academics due my lack of a college degree. Apparently, traditionally recognized institutions of higher learning are the only acceptable places to get an education. Not having a degree would seem to be a definitive indicator of a subpar intellect. 

The fact that I am a lowly factory worker serves as further evidence that I am not capable of intelligent thought. Being underestimated is a part of my daily fare. I'm used to it, but being rejected in any way does not feel nice.

If you happen to be one of those people who dismiss others based on some perceived deficiency,  you should know - superiority is decidedly unattractive - stop it. Seriously, just stop.

You should also know that going to college doesn't automatically make you smart any more than not going automatically makes you stupid. Think about that.

Maybe I should have started a new thread for this. I seem to have gone off topic. 

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Sammy Lynne said:

 

 I have been dismissed on multiple occasions by so-called academics due my lack of a college degree. Apparently, traditionally recognized institutions of higher learning are the only acceptable places to get an education. Not having a degree would seem to be a definitive indicator of a subpar intellect. 

The fact that I am a lowly factory worker serves as further evidence that I am not capable of intelligent thought.

Sounds like you made some pseudo-intellectual very nervous. Good on ya ;)

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I didn't even know what all the other spellings of women were all about until now so thanks for enlightening me! I came across them on tumblr occasionally but to be honest I just assumed it was some sort of oldie spelling like how some people spell "fairy" like "faerie" hahahaha Ignorance really is bliss eh? ;) 

As for the original topic of are slur words offensive in a non offensive context... I guess I was kinda thinking that reclaiming them is good because it's a bit of a "sticks and stones" attitude and I think it is good to have a thick skin in this world... I like the whole "Yeah I'm a raving lesbo and what!?" attitude as I felt like it's just shrugging off the insult and thus not giving it any power. I can see how "

Dani28 said:

the creative spellings ... seem to be reactionary, and the reactionary is, by nature, defensive and never coming from a place of self-confidence

" but I am wondering if you apply this same thought to reclaiming slurs? I totally agree when it comes to the creative spellings but when it comes to the slurs it screams confidence to take a word which was intended to hurt you and deny it of any strength? 

It also kinda grates on me when when people who are, by definition, feminists can't just call themselves a feminist and instead have to say "humanist" or whatever else... just seems pedantic to me! Like nobody ever complains about the word "MANkind!" which ya know... only covers all of human history! So why is the affix "fem" enough to get their panties in a bunch?! Mind you I guess now that I know "Man" is shortened from the Greek word for "women" I guess that point is a bit redundant haha 

So much learnin' from one lill thread! 

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Oubulowng said:

" but I am wondering if you apply this same thought to reclaiming slurs? I totally agree when it comes to the creative spellings but when it comes to the slurs it screams confidence to take a word which was intended to hurt you and deny it of any strength? 

It also kinda grates on me when when people who are, by definition, feminists can't just call themselves a feminist and instead have to say "humanist" or whatever else... just seems pedantic to me! Like nobody ever complains about the word "MANkind!" which ya know... only covers all of human history! So why is the affix "fem" enough to get their panties in a bunch?!

Yes, I was alluding to "reclaiming-slurs" that I had directly addressed in another post on this topic. The people who use them think they're projecting pride and strength, but it's thinly veiled weakness. It doesn't sound confident at all; it sounds like what it is - defensive and defeatist. A strong woman doesn't have to call herself a c-word or any other of the number of derogatory terms meant to reduce women to our genitalia in order to feel good about being a woman. To do so actually reaffirms the derogatory use of the word, because it puts the intended victim into a perpetual state of defending who they are as if it's something that needs defending. I don't need to brand myself a "slut" in order to legitimize enjoying sex. Nor do I need to punish myself with homophobic slurs in order to be proud of how God made me. I'm not a slut. And I'm not a dyke. I'm a healthy lesbian, and belittling myself won't do anything to convince others that who I am is good and worthy of respect.

When I was in high school, I called myself a feminist after reading early feminist writings (hundreds of years old); but I abandoned the term, in my twenties, when I became aware of how that word is being used today. I didn't want my self-respect confused with the sexism of contemporary feminism. Lots of women who know their own power and believe in equality don't want to be associated man-bashing.

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Interesting point. I think I am at a point in my life (early 20s) where I am still figuring out my stance on things in the world. I guess I've possibly  just discovered a hypocrisy in myself as I totally agree with you when it comes to the sexist words and it's actually something I've been actively exploring recently (Mostly trying to un-learn and reject any associations I have with derogatory terms and actions within my own sexuality in attempt to rediscover a more organic reflection of myself.) but then with the homophobic terms I dunno, perhaps it is how it has been presented to me... like my own use of those kinda words for example tends to be when some people have discovered I am bisexual and suddenly their body language becomes awkward or they outright make a nasty comment my kneejerk reaction has been to laugh it off and make a comment like "Yep that's right, I'm a raving lesbo!" because I feel like that is showing that I see my being bisexual as no big deal what-so-ever without having to get super serious and most of the time those people suddenly look a bit guilty or apologise. When facing that sort of everyday homophobia I find that people don't tend to react well to directly tryna educate them whereas this way it seems that if they're not really homophobic and it's just that they haven't unlearnt homophobia from their upbringing then you can pretty much see the introspection on their face and well... if they are actually homophobic then it seems pointless wasting my breath on them cuz I don't want anything to do with them anyway. Their closed mind is their problem, they're a dying breed and I'd rather simply not associate with it. I guess what I'm saying is maybe it's more about normalising LGBT with a bit of shock-tactic humour than it is actually condoning the words? That's how I've always interpreted it anyway. 

With regards to the whole feminist thing I guess it's always been a small battle to face for me so I don't mind doing so. Like so many labels have negative associations that don't actually reflect the true of the word... for example the word "anarchy" to the average Joe tends to evoke images of mindless violence and punks but anarchist literature couldn't be futher from that. Another example is how religion tends to evoke whatever silly extremist stance the media portrays of that religion (Christians and Muslims in particular being seen as homophobic and sexist) when really the average religious person recognises that not all scripture is relevant today. (Pretty sure most Christians are happy to wear clothes of more than one fabric or eat seafood!) and that actually most religious people preach acceptance and love. 

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As you are extra young, you get a pass. These are your learning years - take the task seriously.

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Cheers, love. One patronising sentence was exactly the response I was looking for on that one. :)

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i was being nice. geez. okay, it's unbelievably arrogant to shame people who don't gush the second you come out to them. you have no idea what they're thinking unless they tell you; but it's more likely that rather than being ignorant (as people have been out and proud for longer than either of us has been alive and so meeting a real life gay or bisexual person isn't exactly a brand new experience for anyone) that they're actually just wondering why you told them you were bisexual when the subject was cheese. the humbling truth is that a person's sexuality is really only interesting to them. it's also foolish to believe that shocking people is going to normalize something (that btw doesn't need normalizing because we ARE normal). people who think that we aren't normal are already shocked by our existence. deliberately shocking them only reinforces their idea that we're shocking. if you want to create the impression of being normal, try behaving normally. for instance "Oh, actually I'm bisexual. Hey, is that cheese?" because it's not shocking. it's not a big deal. so don't make it one. ta.

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Why are you assuming that I bring up my sexuality at completely random or inappropriate times? That would be well uncomfortable and weird! Like yeah of course people would react like "okaaayyyyy..." in that situation! XD I don't shame people either, I make light of situations that would otherwise fall to awkwardness? (Unless like I said that person is actually just being a total homophobic asshole... then I tend to just rise above it and turn the other cheek, as I also said.)

And yes you're right we ARE normal... the idea of normalising something to the masses doesn't imply that it isn't normal... it implies that it isn't fully understood or accepted by society. Which obviously homosexuality is not cuz otherwise homophobia wouldn't still be a problem. I think you're taking what I say a little too literally... There are different degrees of shock tactic... from a gentle surprise to outright horror! The situation I was trying to describe where I've said something like "Yep I'm a raving lesbo!" was supposed to just be a bit cheeky... not rude! That said, I do tend to enjoy people with punky attitudes so when people in the media are 'outrageously camp' or very blunt I do still enjoy that.

Perhaps our mis-understandings here are a simple case of our geography? If you honestly hadn't meant too patronising and were genuinely trying to be nice? Cuz like... I don't know anyone round here who would have taken that in any other way? ...Cuz it's probably how we'd have meant it! XD I haven't met many Americans but the few people I have met in person have always mentioned that it took a while for them to realise we're not being rude in our humour (We are generally very cheeky, sarcastic, blunt, dark, dry, self depreciating). One of my best friends from England actually married a gal from Atlanta and has travelled around America a fair bit... he has told me so much about the differences between our mannerisms... he did mention that you guys are especially polite in comparison to us!  

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I've been to London, and I did not find the Brits to be rude at all (with the exception of a couple of pretentious kids who wanted to make fun of the American lesbian couple, ironically, while working at Starbucks.) And I was trying to be nice. I don't expect brand new adults to have a wealth of wisdom and experience. That isn't a fair expectation. I won't tell a young person that they're right when they aren't; but it isn't my first inclination to lite into them, knowing that they haven't had time to realize their mistakes and correct them.

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