Thought to continue the discussion down here as it is going (evolving) in a different direction in the main room. Turns out the dynamic involved more than a "word," but the "word" was a flag for much of the whole thing.
Thanks, Waldo, and thank you, Pan. I do think this topic can use some more analysis.
Pan writes, "It would be disingenuous for me to express shock that someone would react strongly to my choice of a word that has power due to its taboo status."
Particularly since it was not the word itself that drew fire, but the manner in which it was used. When it was used without being directed at any individual, and without being used as a slur, there was no objection to the word and it was not taboo here, as the discussion about the use of the word itself demonstrated clearly.
Pan: While I reserve the right to use any word that I see fit (an "obscene" word to describe a politician whose actions I find obscene), I should be prepared for a strong reaction - even on a forum like RBC that is far more tolerant and open-minded to extreme expression than is the norm.
I don't think there has been any objection to obscenity on this forum.
Pan: As the recent brouhaha evidenced, a word that is determined to be sexist (racist, homophobic, etc) can be seen, through analogy and hyperbole, to be short-hand for all of the evils that are symptomatic of sexism - it can be implied that anyone who uses a sexist term is therefore supporting sexism - an implication that is simplistic and reductionistic.
Again, it all depends on whether the word is being used in a sexist way or not. There was no objection to or criticism of the topic in which the word was used in nonsexist ways. Suppose there was a "taboo" word, and I'm going to make up a nonsense word for this purpose, "plufer." The word had been used for centuries to disrespect a certain class of people, say people with jobs. Suppose that somebody here on RBC wanted to demonstrate their superiority to people with jobs, and to denigrate people with jobs by calling them plufers, but knew that there would be a reaction if they simply used the word. So they started a topic to reclaim the word and explained that while it was a totally disrespectful word, it could also be used to denigrate people who did NOT have jobs, as well as in its usual sense of denigrating people with jobs. Managing to garner agreement that the word was disrespectful when used in the tradition way to disrespect people with jobs, they also gained agreement that it could be used to disrepect people who did NOT have jobs, and therefore was not, in and of itself, employment-based discrimination. They then proceeded to use the word in its traditional sense, to disrespect a person who was employed, and insisted that the word was not disrespecting people who are employed because it could also be used to disrespect people who are not employed. A bit disingenuous, wouldn't you say?
Pan: My response was harsh and emotional as I felt that I was, through implication, being labeled as sexist. My career choice has taken me into female-identified fields (education, arts) and, as such, I have direct experience with institutional sexism directed towards me through my field. I have been sexually harassed by both female and male supervisors on several occasions. There are other incidents I prefer not to share. Almost every woman and several men I know have been molested by family members and/or raped. I deal with body-issue/eating disorder issues with many of my students. I, as a straight, white male, can never know what it is to be a woman in our society but I have a far more direct experience with sexism than most men ever can imagine.
That's strange. I think it is possible for us to relate to any human condition simply by putting ourselves in the other person's place. It would be disingenuous of me to say that I used a racist word in a racist way because I am not a person of color and therefore cannot know what it is like to be a person of color in a racist society, because I AM a human being, I have experienced discrimination based on other things, so I do know what it is to be subjected to discrimination.
Pan: Andrea Dworkin made the argument that, since sexual intercourse involved penetration, all acts of sexual intercourse were acts of violence against women. Like a latter day Augustine, she places the original sin of sexism in the reproductive act. The intellectual power of her arguments are entertaining but are absurd in their reductionism and abstraction of biological pairing to violence. Likewise, I find attempts to source the patriarchal values in the uttering of certain words as absurdly abstract reductionist logic.
That's a common fallacy with regard to what Dworkin wrote. Dworkin wrote that the same sexual acts, if acts of engulfment, or acts of mutual and reciprocal simultaneous engulfment/penetration, rather than acts of penetration, were NOT sexist.
I had that argument with an Orthodox Jewish Israeli settler. He insisted that sexual intercourse between males and females was always the male penetrating the female. I asked what if the male was lying down with a boner, and (taking into account his strict patriarchal beliefs), the male granted permission to his wife to lower herself onto him, engulf him, and bring him to climax, all without him moving. Was that an act of penetration of the female by the male, or was it was it an act of engulfment of the male by the female?
Pan: Anthropology teaches us that culture develops to reinforce the values of a society. It is true that the semiotics of a patriarchal society will reinforce the patriarchy but the Structuralist belief that the culture forms the society is essentially backwards.
Patriarchy is the believe that males are superior to females. It is enforced through violence and the threat of violence. The Greek word andrapodismos describes the manner in which patriarchy took over the world by conquering city-states, killing all the adult males (those already corrupted by equality who it would be difficult to convert to sexism) and enslaving the women and children. The women could be easily forced to submit by simply killing those who didn't or threatening to kill their children. You then raise the children from birth to conform to divisive and unequal gender roles, so that the next generation is incapable of equality, and you can perpetuate patriarchy indefinitely.
Pan: On the original RBC site there was an argument regarding the use of gendered pronouns. One poster, inspired no doubt by Donna Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto, insisted that since male was the default gender in virtual space, it was demeaning to refer to the poster with feminine pronouns. While I could respect the logic behind (his) demand to be referred to as "he", I also understood the discomfort/awkwardness others on the board expressed with this forced ungendered grammar created. In many respects, insisting upon being called "he" brought more attention to "his" gender than if it was just left alone.
Are you saying that it is not demeaning to be referred to with feminine pronouns? That you don't find it demeaning when it is done to you? Or are you saying that it is demeaning for patriarchal males to be referred to with feminine pronouns, but not for them to refer to females in ways that they themselves would find demeaning?
Pan: While words, and their usage, must be examined in their contributions in supporting/critiquing the society - I cannot see how proscriptions against their usage can ever result in a more open and less oppressive society.
I didn't advocate proscribing any words. I objected to a traditionally sexist word being used in a traditionally sexist manner. You and Waldo, instead of recognizing that using the word in an oppressive way was inconsiderate towards people here who had been victims of that particular form of oppression, stated that you would no longer use the word at all, rather than that you would be more considerate and try not to use it in it's traditionally sexist sense. I didn't ask you not to use the word at all, although one person did say that any use of the word made them feel uncomfortable. I only asked that you be more considerate and aware of how you were using the word. Asking somebody not to shit on my living room floor is not the same as asking them not to shit.
Not every professor of Black Studies is black. I'm trying to imagine what would happen if a white professor of Black Studies told a class that since blacks were reclaiming the word nigger, the class was going to support that effort by referring to blacks as niggers. Somehow, I don't think it would go over too well. ;)
That's cool with me Pan. If "she" is the pronoun you prefer, just say so and I'll be happy to respect your wishes.
In the meantime, I'm a bit confused by what you wrote earlier:
Pan: "On the original RBC site there was an argument regarding the use of gendered pronouns."
That's strange. Why would there be an argument about gendered pronouns?
Pan: "One poster, inspired no doubt by Donna Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto....."
Interesting. I've never heard of that author or that reference, but I'll look for it. I have read some interesting things about pronouns in science fiction by James Tiptree and by Samuel R. Delaney, and also a few things regarding sex-based pronouns in various gender studies journals and textbooks.
Pan: "...insisted that since male was the default gender in virtual space, it was demeaning to refer to the poster with feminine pronouns."
Fascinating, if true. Are you quite sure that was the poster's argument? I was on the original RBC site and I don't recall anyone making that argument. It doesn't make sense, since there is no default gender in virtual space that I know of. There's a default gender in patriarchal societies, and I suppose some might argue that virtual space is a patriarchal society, but I don't recall any such argument being made on RBC1.
Pan: "While I could respect the logic behind (his) demand to be referred to as "he", I also understood the discomfort/awkwardness others on the board expressed with this forced ungendered grammar created. In many respects, insisting upon being called "he" brought more attention to "his" gender than if it was just left alone."
Okay, you've really got me now. Are you saying that the poster hadn't usually been referred to that way, and suddenly insisted on changing pronouns?
As I recall the incident, the poster HAD been referred to as he, but it somehow became known that he was a biological female, a male homosexual, a feminine or weak person, or some other category that made the male supremacists on the forum feel that that he could no longer be referred to in the same way that they had referred to him previously.
So they started referring to that person as "she" (or as "he" in quotation marks), and that person, having spent many years fighting for the right to equal terms and treatment without regard to sex, and assuming that they wouldn't refer to anyone else in a way that they themselves found offensive, turned it right around and referred to each of them the same way.
At that point, as had happened on many other forums, some male supremacists, outraged at being referred to in the same way that they only referred to people whom they considered to be inferior, and terrified that somebody might see that they had been referred to in a way that they considered to be the deadliest insult in patriarchy, had that poster banned and deleted everything that he had ever written.
Here on the new RBC, people aren't banned and there isn't any censorship. So it is probably for the best if people don't refer to others in any way in which they themselves would not wish to be referred to.
For that reason, if I've been referring to Pan in a way in which "he" does not prefer, I sincerely apologize and will take great care in the future to refer to "him" however "he" wishes, assuming that the respect is mutual.
The C-guy was trying to mollify another guy who is seriously fucked up.
Has projection problems and delusions and fetish fantasies... all because of the old heartbreak-gone-bad. Right now, he's one sick puppy. So cboy was tryin to show a little misplaced buddyrub "solidarity" ... yeah, buddy, it's all them dang naggers... and we all freaked out and polarized over this single word. Well... it wasn't about that word...
...but then it was. I do the same thing, harping about the Rich Fatties... which I now have abbreviated to Fats. Am I runnin down "big" people? Naaaahhhh... but somebody could sure take it that way. I just wrote about "fat white people." It aint got nothin to do with the few extra elbows we all carry around at times. or maybe it does.
I'm usually referring to what ol Groucho called "the capitalists," but cripes... hardly anybody ever sees those fuckers. They are usually represented in our world by what Bageant calls the "ankle biters." The stooges. Groucho called em the "bourgeoise" Well... ol Harpo honked those words to death too. they sounded like babble when that lingo was pounded out of our heads 100 years before the cold war ever started... and pounded IN to poor old Ivan's head until they were totally meaningless.
"The corporate-government-media complex that manufactures our mass consciousness (hereinafter referred to as "the bastards" for clarity purposes) is simultaneously unknowable, yet easy to believe in."
So I'm gonna refer to em as "the bastards" from now on... because Fats just sounds like I'm down on some folks who just had a few extra onion rings. Oh wait... what about those "single-parent" children... you know... cause mom and dad didn't sign the official contract... and one of em just bugged out later? hmmmm... i gotta work on that.
What I am NOT going to do is respond to any more threads (it doesn't happen HERE) where somebody is slinging about that "socialist" or "communist" or "fascist" muck when they're just code-words for "the other." I had enougha that fekkin "evil-doers" bullshit for the last eight years... and that "Kommunist" bullshit for 50 years before that. It's a load o fekkin CRAP. I aint gonna play in that sandbox no more. I quit "arguing" with fire-plugs after my last acid trip 40 years ago.
Yeah yeah... words are a "signifier" because.... crap... google google wici wici>>> yeah... "semiotics" and Saussure and all that bullshit. My brain is getting incontinent faster than me bladder. Yeah... "words."
Troll-boy and c-baiter illustrate: forbidding stupid words is not going to prevent stupid people from being stupid.
Hmmmmm...... So any suggestion that stupid people be less stupid, will be taken by them to mean that you're trying to deny them the right to use certain words, rather than that you're asking them not to use those words stupidly?
I started the first Word Cop fred because my objection to a sexist word being used in a sexist way, was misrepresented as being an attempt to censor any use of the word at all. Since that was never my intent, I felt a need to say so.
Within that thread there were several attempts to misrepresent what I HAD said, which was true and which could not be refuted, as something I had NOT said--something that was not true and therefore could easily be refuted.
I DID say that using a sexist word in a sexist way is a form of sexism and is likely to be perceived as such by those who have been subjected to sexism. I did NOT say that the word shouldn't be used.
I never had any use for troll-boy, but what really pissed me off was c-baiter's willingness to tolerate sexism in return for being given a certain amount of power, position, and prestige, while claiming to oppose sexism. You summed it up nicely in your Rumkowski analogy (which I know was posted here on RBC but can't seem to find to link).
One of the things that makes you an effective writer, Waldo, isn't that you use or don't use certain words, but that you can use words effectively to convey meaning, like Bageant does. That's why you can use words like "fatties" or "bastards" or other words that COULD be used in a discriminatory manner, and not be accused of discrimination.
So any suggestion that stupid people be less stupid, will be taken by them to mean that you're trying to deny them the right to use certain words.
That's a very precise description of the nasty "politically correct" blowback. It's very difficult to determine if x-word is being used in an x-way until you've sampled enough of the speaker's context. Sometimes it's fairly easy... and sometimes it takes a while. Troll-boy has written some thoughtful stuff... when he isn't writing about (what he thinks is) "politics." He's a mediocre writer, but a fairly diligent researcher. He did a thing about indigenous Florida artifacts that I thought was interesting.
His last statement: "I intend on being graphic and way over the top and you have not even seen a small taste of that capability as yet. I have been holding back." I wanted to say, If you're writing chops are as sharp as your "political" acuity, please continue to "hold back." Fuck it. I'm just not going to bother reading any more of his troll-tripe.
...use or don't use certain words, ... use words effectively to convey meaning, like Bageant does.
Thanks Mark... but I am hardly worthy of any kind of comparison with 'ol Joe... but that's exactly how HE does it. He sets up his own context. He admits he's a "redneck," but if you go thru just a bit of his material... he's more like a read-neck. heh. (laughs at his own lame "cleverness") Sorry... I just got pissy because I knew pan's background in "gender studies" (gawwd... even NOW it makes my head hurt).
Oh I'm not above being an asshole at all. Gonna do something about the taxonomy of "Paulistas" "Paulites" and "Paulitos." 2/3 of those fucking nazis-in-drag really piss me off... a lot. At least they're kinda "early innovators." Scraped the Bush bumper-stickers off and removed the yellow magnets before the remaining 10% of the bullet-heads realized how fucked up it is. Now it's Obama-this Obama-that coroophagic celebrity-cult nooooz... and it's BOOOOOORING. And back to your original point... their code-words give them away.
But they would reveal their Jack-boots and hoods soon enough anyway.
The problem with the just-us system in this country really is an eeewwww factor, Waldo, since lawyers are trained to go for the win, right or wrong, and the law is set up so that the facts rarely enter into it.
But academe is pretty fucked up too. I'm fond of saying that science is the business of taking things out of context so as to misunderstand them better. Gender Studies is itself a misnomer. Either they're studying biological sex, or they're studying gender roles. In many cases they're confusing sexual orientation with gender roles, which is quite understandable as gender roles are the way in which patriarchy mediates how people relate to one another both sexually and socially. And as I've said before, anyone who thinks that people wouldn't or couldn't have sex without gender roles, has never had a human sex drive. Personally, I happen to believe that who people have sex with and how they relate to each other (as long as no harm is done) should be entirely up to the individuals involved, and that culture, society, church, state, "science," and all other institutions should butt out of personal decisions. Whatever the place for government, religion, and other establishments may or may not be, it ain't in my head and it ain't in my bed.
Whata buncha dickheads. Wotta buncha lamebrains. Not ALL, of course... but the Paulitos seem to have overrun the site. Fucking "social Darwinists" until they get their OWN pink asses kicked... how fucking hard is THAT? Seems to me kids... we're on our own. Nothing new there.
So after this nasty delay, I'm goin back to researching how you can stay warm, hydrated, fed, clean and happy. Wotta dumass I was to think there was any "ideology" out there that could alleviate us from hard-scrabble basics. Sorry for the distraction.
Hey it's just the pre-crime police doin' thar thing.
Not that there isn't a full-blown war raging on the middle class as we speak. But that false piece of evidence should have been thrown into the trash bin or at least analyzed for its propaganda value. Not that Pelosi isn't a c*nt, but the facts are facts. (Damn, there's that word again.)
I've got to be honest, I'm kinda hoping the left and right will get together and finally do some damage to this unholy government. In some ways, I think the left and right are much closer in their goals than they're willing to admit. But it's hard to tell because there's an equal number of dumb shits on both sides, and often their ideology is so convoluted you really can't tell who represents what. Also, labels and categorization can really distract us from our commonality--as you well know.
Don't know if I've encountered any 'constitutionalists' that are left-leaning. But, I have on the right and I support their position. But that don't make me a freeper. Or does it? Guess I don't really care. Never have.
Guess what I'm saying is...as soon as someone says they're part of a coalition, then ya got to expect a bit of 'group think.' Even when it's totally misguided and unrepresentative of the original goal. All you have to do is search out and kill the alpha sheep. Problem solved.
As I see it, the goal of the left is to restore the commons and the goal of the right is to privatize everything, so I don't see how they could ever come together.
Now this "war on the middle class" is interesting. The ruling elites have always waged war (shooting wars, the kind that kill people) on the lower classes, and the middle class was supposed to be the buffer that protected the rich from the poor. They got a cut of the loot for guarding it. When they get laid off, it means the rich have shifted operations to someplace cheaper and don't need as many guards and cops here any more. It must be really hard on the nouveau poor, not only inasmuch as they aren't accustomed to hardships, but that they're always in danger of being recognized as former guards and cops. But when the rich don't want them any more, that's that.
I've been watching some of the developments. For example, many of the guys of my generation who were happy to keep female wages depressed, are now dependent upon their wives' salaries. I haven't seen any of them join the equal pay movement, but it would have been in their best interests if they'd done so long ago. Now they can't compete with cheap labor in India, in China, or even here in the U.S., since their own families' breadwinners are accustomed to working for less. I guess they can always blame immigrants.
The two sides, if there are two sides in this country, are voters, those who believe in government and think that if only their party was in power, things would be better (the two parties have both been in power at various times and things have never gotten better--like the old song says, the rich get rich and the poor get poorer, but the destruction and pollution of the earth, our only habitat, has continued to worsen under all administrations, and I'm not sure we've ever had a President who wasn't a war criminal, of any party), and those who don't vote. The country is divided about 50/50 between those who don't care what the rich do to the planet and to our economy, as long as rich people remain in charge (voters), and those who do care, the nonvoters (who are called apathetic because they care). Delegating your power to people you cannot hold accountable is called doing your civic duty and exercising your voice in government, and refusing to delegate your power to people you cannot hold accountable is called being irresponsible.
The hard right, those who favor bailouts, oppose socialized medicine (better dead than red), are no more than 25% of the country, and the other half of the voters may think of themselves as "the left" but they wouldn't be recognized as being on the left by anyone in any European country. We have two major parties here, they're both right-wing, our elections are rigged, and political offices here are bought and sold the way they are in any other banana republic. Americans seem to think that we're special, that genocide, slavery, torture, wars of aggression, or anything else is okay if we do it. Some believe that in the same way that the Israelis believe that whatever they do is okay because God said so. Some believe it because they think that technology and progress will solve everything. Most are convinced that they are the height, epitome, and end of evolution and that it doesn't get any better than this.
Voters tend to get upset when the social contract is broken by government. Nonvoters looked at the fine print and never signed the contract. Once you've sold your soul to the devil, you can gripe all you want about how badly he's treating you.
There's very little "left" left in America, because for decades COINTELPRO has been identifying, targeting, and eliminating any potential leadership on the left. "Search out and kill," as you put it. What we're left with is sell-outs and third-raters. Everyone else is dead, in prison, or in exile. That leaves the leadership on the right (both parties) free reign.
There are, of course, people who will submit to anything, as long as they are given some power over others. And there are people who emotionally never get past age two, and are totally fascinated with their own poo. Does your mommy let you say, "poo," BO? Can you say, "poo-poo"? Do you like to say "poo"? Do you have a mean teacher in pre-school who won't let you say "poo"? Do you bring your poo to school, like Pan, and call it art, and make a living looking for people who will say "poo" a lot to desensitize the American public to being pooped on? Can you say poo poo poo and get away with it? Does that mean that you're strong and brave and free? Do you always make sure to vote for or against the people who poo on you? Naughty, naughty, bad, bad, monkeys throwing poo.
No thoughts, no common sense, no goals, just the firm belief that freedom is the right to say poo and nothing else is worth fighting and dying for. Nothing else matters or is important.
Americans fight for their right to party and to have all the porn they want.
Not for the right to vote directly on budgets and laws. Not for the right to vote directly to elect or remove the people who can vote on budgets and laws (as long as they vote the way their corporate sponsors tell them to). Not for the right to vote directly on whether they or their children and grandchildren will die in wars of aggression. Hey, as long as the rich folks let us have our porn and we have the right to say poo whenever we want, who cares whether we have a say in whether we live or die? As long as you can watch the game and have a beer, or watch the lions eat the Christians in the arena. Any old circuses will do, even if there's very little bread.
Some people still laugh about how the Indians were tricked into selling Manhattan Island for $24 worth of beads. That's nothing compared to how Americans were tricked into tricked into forfeiting democracy in return for porn and profanity. You can say, "Shit! This sucks!" but you still have to say, "We're fucked," because there's nothing you can do about it.
Venezuela has a new Constitution. They have honest elections and they can vote directly for President and directly on their own Constitution. They don't need guardians to do it for them, because they, unlike Americans, are competent. The U.S. would like to destroy Venezuela, and Cuba, and any place that it doesn't own or control through front companies and front governments, and maybe it will. Maybe tomorrow or the next day the U.S. will nuke the entire planet as easily as it nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It could happen over health care. We're the only developed country left that doesn't have a national health care plan, and if the corporations can't decide who is to live (the rich) and who is to die (the poor), maybe the planet won't be worth living on any more to the capitalists and they'll blow it up. If you take the death panels away from the corporations that make those decisions solely on the basis of maximizing profits to shareholders, and put them in the hands of government, which might be foolish enough to even let poor people live, or black people, or God forbid, even immigrants, the rich just might decide to nuke the whole planet out of spite. They are GOD and their's alone is the power to decide life and death and why should they let that power be taken from them? Better to destroy the entire planet.
Oh yeah. Pelosi's a war criminal, a war profiteer, and a fascist. Cunts are vaginas, they give life, they don't take it. Pelosi is not a cunt. Pelosi's just another patriarchal pig and she, her husband, her colleagues (including her dearly beloved and close friend Bush), are in the genocide-for-profit industry. That's what corporatism/fascism is, the genocide-for-profit industry.