Your makes up amazing:). I wish i could be half as good as you.
Gosh! Thanks! You totally could be even better than me, it’s really just a lot of trial and error. My makeup method is mostly to put a whole lot on and take almost all of it off. q-tips are my best friend.
Correction. The bundle of sticks meaning is NOT an urban legend. Fagotto is Italian and means exactly that. It is where the music instrument the basoon got its Danish name(fagot) from. Whether the slur has anything to do with this, however, Idk
Thanks for this, but I think Stephen was only saying that the two meanings were in no way connected.
Hey, I was looking through your archive for something and noticed you've been on tumblr for a little over a year. Awesome!
Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that you are one of my favorite people I follow on tumblr: I'm always sure to read the essays you post because we seem to think in very similar ways. :)
Keep on posting and thanks for sharing your ideas!
Thank you, I really appreciate this :)
Sorry that they really are essays, I just wasn’t meant to be short-winded.
(Trigger warning for slurs and discussion of violence against queer people in this ask.)
Hey, it's Stephen/supermattachine, anon because I'm on another human's computer--just wanted to mention that the bundle of sticks thing as an etymology for faggot is an urban legend. Historically, sodomites have been hanged mostly, or shot, and in some rare and biblically inspired cases, stoned--burning at the stake wasn't a common thing, at least, not that I've ever heard of. People debate a lot about the etymology of faggot, but ultimately it's one of those situations where no one is really sure, and the silence and stigma surrounding the word and the group to which it refers makes philology very difficult.
Obviously these rules are just my opinion, but they’re what I’ve observed to be present in successful reclamation movements and lacking in unsuccessful reclamation movements.
But Enoch, what are you counting as successful? In my opinion, a successful reclamation movement is one that gets a word to a point that anyone can use it in a positive or neutral way without it being offensive. Success does not mean that people can’t still try to use the word to harm you because people are always going to try to use word to harm you. Look at a word that most people see as neutral, like short. Sure, some people are self-conscious about their height (and some people are dysphoric about their height, and I’m not sure how possible reclaiming is in the context of triggering dysphoria), but it’s not a bad word. Nobody writes it like sh*rt to indicate that they would never say it out loud. Usually saying the word short is not going to cause the people around you to side-eye you, yell at you, tell you about their experience with height-related oppression, consider not being your friend, whatever. Still, if someone really awful calls a self-conscious short person short in a way that is intended to make them feel negatively about that aspect of themselves, it might hurt that person. Word are hurtful in hurtful contexts, but successful reclamation makes it so that a person has to make sure they let you know that they see it as a negative for it to have that kind of connotation.
As I see it, there are two major rules that succesful reclamation movements have followed that unsuccessful ones haven’t:
First, to reclaim a word, you cannot change the meaning. If you can, it helps to incorporate all the historical meanings. I think of queer as a prime example of this rule. Before it was a slur, queer meant odd or different. At some point people began using it to slur people who they saw as odd or different—people they were seeking to other, with great emphasis on their sexualities and gender expressions. The reason queer works so well in a reclaimed sense is that most people who use it are doing so to imply that they are, in fact, other because of their sexuality or gender expression, that they do not have a problem with people seeing them as odd or different. Reclaiming for me is about saying, yes, I am what you say I am and I am do not see it as a bad thing. And, like Rachel Maddow says, at that point, they can’t hurt you by telling them what you’ve just told them. If you change the meaning, it doesn’t work as well because even if they’re using the same word, they’re not telling you what you told them; they’re saying something else, and it isn’t very nice. This rule is why the word bitch is so complicated to reclaim—it has too many meanings, and while all of them reflect negatively on society’s view of women, it’s hard to pin down how. Some people use bitch positively to describe themselves or others as strong people who don’t take anyone’s shit and have other attributes that are often seen as negative for women to possess but not men, but some other people use it to say that they’re catty, backstabbing, or obnoxious-in-a-way-doesn’t-speak-to-their-power, and they see that as a good thing in the context of themselves but maybe wouldn’t if another person exhibited the same traits. Anything can be seen as a positive if you want it to, and it’s always the reclaimer’s choice, but it can’t only be ok if you do it. And that brings me nicely to rule number two:
The end goal of a reclamation movement must be for everyone to be able to say the word regardless of their relationship to the community. As I said, successful reclamations make a word neutral, so at that point they are descriptors that are fair game for people to use in accurate contexts. During the course of a reclamation movement, it may happen that there is a sensitive interim period during which community members are still seeing how they feel about a word and whether they think it’s reclaimable or not and they are not comfortable with non-community members using it, but in the end, if it’s truly reclaimed it should be available to everyone. More than that, it should be one of the primary words of the community that has reclaimed it as it becomes a chosen self-identifier.
It's the informality, I think. I understand that the word can easily be demeaning and frequently infantilizes whomever it's describing. It's used too often as a separation point as well (e.g. musicians in the rock industry being specific as "rocker chicks" to distinguish from their male counter-parts). I like the term in a reclamation sense coming from the perspective of a femme FTM. The childish nature of it also appeals to my deep-seated fear of growing old which, however irrelevant, tends to have a hand in many of my language and personal choices.
I had a lot of trouble writing this exclamation and I'm not sure I was able to explain my reasoning, largely because I myself don't totally understand it. I suppose it's one of those things I'll have to explore more.
Strangely, I’m fine with being referred to as a “chick” and it’s probably the only woman-specific word I’m okay with. I’m loathe to use it to refer to others, though, and I share your hatred of “ladies”.
Why is that, do you think? The chick thing, I mean. Send me an ask if you need more space.
While I don't use the word, "chick," myself to refer to women, I know many who use it as a way of representing and taking pride in their femininity. They use the term in conjunction with others, like the "hacker-chick," who wrote before me. It's their way of saying that their competence doesn't and shouldn't negate their femininity and vice versa.
Thank you for this.
I do think it’s a fine line, though. I often resent people’s need to say things like “female doctor” or “female construction worker” or “female anything-people-are-likely-to-otherwise-assume-would-refer-to-a-man,” and I wonder how close that practice comes to this one. On the other hand, that’s the way people choose to refer to themselves and if they find it empowering I’m very happy for them.
I'm so happy to see your comments on the word "chick" because I see so many activisty/social justice people using it and it upsets me. I remember looking for the origin and I found a book purported to be the first use of it that had a passage like "he didn't want to marry her anyway, the brainless fluffy chick."
A thing about "bitch" that bothers me is that it's also a slur against an animal, and obviously a human cannot reclaim it for an animal, and people seem to totally disregard this aspect of it. I can't stand animal-based insults.
wow, I totally didn’t know that was the origin. Ick.
I’m not sure I agree with you that it’s a slur against an animal because I think in the context of animals it doesn’t have any negative connotations. I think it’s actually more likely that people project their own notions of the negativity of the word onto its use with animals, when in that case it’s really just descriptively distinguishing female dogs from male dogs. In fact, I was under the impression that the word came into use to refer to women because it compared them to female dogs. It’s kind of like how the word faggot does not cast any aspersions on a bundle of sticks it refers to; it only came to be negative when people started calling queer folks faggots because they would have to gather the bundle of sticks that would be used to burn them.
yes, we did. but maybe it was at 4am because that happened often. and i had said that i use it to identify as an honest, strong, confident, no-bullshit taking kind of woman. something to that effect and then some
Now I remember. Everyone, this is Deena, an example to us all.
After seeing your response to the Anon about the term chick potentially being taken as offensive, I want to get your opinion on other terms that have been "reclaimed" by the LGBTQ+ community. (I'll elaborate in a minute).
I personally don't understand how the term chick could be used in an uplifting manner. Looking back, I've only ever used it in an offensive way. The way you described. (I'm callin' myself out here)
Today the topic of "reclaimed words" came up in the space I work at. Words like f*g, queer, dyke etc. are words that are used by some people in this generation as tools of empowerment or identities, while older generations still see them as offensive terms. There are some words that I personally wouldn't use because I feel that because of the history behind the word it shouldn't be used at all (like f*g and ni**er), but at the same time, I have to respect peoples right to identify as they choose. (I don't know anyone that identifies as a ni**er, but i was just using it as an example as a word that has been "reclaimed")
I’ll work on a post about this too. I have very strong opinions about how reclaiming words has to be done in order for it to work. Expect it tomorrow, and if it’s not up by midnight, nag me about it.
In the mean time, I’ll direct your attention to what Trish just said to me about using the word chick in an empowering way that subverts a power dynamic:
I kinda use ‘chick’ in that I’m a ‘hacker chick’ which goes back a few years. It’s kinda like “I’ll crack your pathetic security while my nails dry.” It’s kinda meant to be emasculating
I love that you preach activism respectfully! You're one of the best blogs I follow about activism for that reason! :)
I think anger is really great and righteous and constructive and totally fuels us, but I don’t think it’s a good tactic. Especially when a person clearly has good intentions and is just making a mistake. I leave aggression to folks who are not looking to foster dialogue or education and would prefer for people with privilege to wallow in their guilt.
Chick is an offensive term?
I was unaware! That's good to know, I'm sorry! :')
Thanks for helping out!
I mean, everyone’s got their points of view, and words for women are really really tricky. I’m constantly frustrated that woman is literally the only woman-specific word I’m comfortable using in reference to womenfolk. It’s so annoying. It’s definitely up to you to decide what it means in your life and what it says about the people you use it to describe. I know that the times I used it, it was in a context of objectifying women or diminishing them (a la some chick was saying ignorant shit on the internet, as in, if she’s doing something I don’t agree with, she doesn’t warrant enough of my respect for me to think of her as a woman). You may use it in an empowering way, but I bet that if you really think about it, you weren’t in this context.
It takes a lot of belligerence and resistance on the part of another person for me to get aggressive, so if you’re coming to me hoping I’ll really go after someone who did something you don’t appreciate, I recommend you ask someone else.
Working on a longer piece about it, but don’t expect it for a long-ass time. It’s been sitting in my drafts for months.
I care deeply about gstlbqq (gay straight lesbian transgender, queer, questioning rights.) or however y'all think of yourself
Can you please explain to this chick how offensive this is? She threw straight people in with a bunch of oppressed groups, and she also discredited any sexuality other then straight with "however y'all think of yourself".
I know you're super educated, will you send her a message?
Well, seeing as you asked so nicely, here’s what I wrote her, but I’d like to establish that I’m not a fan of the word “chick” to describe women, especially not to describe women we have beef with and are likely to therefore be calling chicks as a way to diminish them:
An anonymous follower of mine directed me to your tumblr because they find the following part of your description offensive and wanted my help explaining why: “I care deeply about […] gstlbqq (gay straight lesbian transgender, queer, questioning rights.) or however y’all think of yourself”
The main points that this person brought up were the inclusion of straight folks in the acronym and the “however y’all think of yourself” part.
I completely understand that community acronyms can get long, unwieldy, and confusing and that pretty much every person or group must decide which acronym they’re going to treat as standard. My personal opinion is that the best way to make a decision about acronyms is to decide who it is most important for you to explicitly include, and who can reasonably conclude that they are included even if their particular identity is not named. In your case, you’re using the acronym to describe people whose rights are either in jeopardy or entirely non-existent. Straight people do not actually lack rights because of their sexuality, nor do their rights seem threatened. Sure, some straight folks experience oppression in other ways, but not as a result of their sexuality. So your explicit inclusion of straight folks doesn’t make sense, and, in the eyes of some, ignores what is actually important about the struggle for rights.
It becomes especially confusing, though, in combination with “however y’all think of yourselves.” I understand that that phrase was your way of recognizing that the acronym you chose was limited in its inclusivity and reminding people that they should count themselves covered even if they weren’t named, but it does the opposite of what you intend it to. It’s an incredibly dismissive way to refer to identities that people hold dear and personal. I know you don’t mean it this way, but think about how you would feel if you said to someone, “I’m Becca, I’m a triplet, Pescetarian Jew” and they responded, “well, it’s cool that that’s how you think about yourself.” It makes it sound like they don’t really believe you, but they’re going to humor you because their parents told them it was polite. It makes it sound as though you *don’t*, in fact, care very deeply at all, even though I’m sure you do care a whole lot! It says, well, I’m ignorant about some things, but I’m not particularly interested in learning, so I’ll hide behind this acknowledgement of my ignorance. My advice would be that you try to find a way to describe your support (and the people you’re supporting) in a way that acknowledges their identities’ basis in the truth of their lives. My phrasing and yours are probably pretty different (seriously, I’m this formal all the time), but I’d personally go with something like “LGBTQQ and other identities I’m missing” or even LGBTQQ+ works for a lot of people.
Thanks for reading this, I hope it made sense and that it’ll help you if you choose to address this issue. If you have any questions about what I’ve just said or really anything else, please feel free to ask.
The first time I saw my penis, I thought it was the ugliest thing in the world I decided to conduct an objective survey To control for variables, I cornered unknown women at parties I found secret moments alone with them after school in the yearbook office I rode the train with my fly unzipped and my boxers open I waited for their reactions
I learned that 90% of women will look away from a penis within the first ten seconds of seeing it 60% will gasp 20% will scream
I learned that women are more likely than average to find penises disgusting
I learned that black women are more likely than women of any other race to kick a man in the nuts and walk away.
Today, while I was waiting for the subway, I saw a man exercising what I have decided to call “freak privilege”—he was singing out loud (badly) to his music and dancing a little bit. Now, because this man was well-dressed, well-groomed, white, and listening to his music on expensive headphones, he encountered other people’s eye rolls and annoyance rather than the personal space bubble afforded loud people who look disheveled or un-groomed, particularly when they are of color (in fact, I have observed men of color who are groomed and dressed and singing hip hop or rap lyrics who are given the same wide berth). What struck me about this particular white guy, though, was that it felt like his particular performance was seen as non-threatening because it could be dismissed as one of those things that queer men do to advertise their queerness. And that’s where freak privilege comes in.
Honestly, it’s a misnomer. Freak privilege is a pseudo-privilege; it’s like when straight cis men complain that straight cis women have more power because they can use their sexuality to get men to do their bidding. Freak privilege looks like a privilege because those who have it feel uninhibited in a way that those who don’t have it never could, and they therefore seem to be freer. It isn’t real privilege, though, because you have to be a freak to have access to it—you only get to trangress minor social norms like not reacting exuberantly to your music because you’ve already transgressed a really major social norm like compulsory heterosexuality. Doing so—and being open about—it demonstrates to the system that you already disregard its teachings. There is no freak privilege in areas that react to transgression with physical violence, but in a place like Chelsea (which is where I was), most people won’t even know that they see a freak as freaky, they’ll only know that the standards for social behavior that they expect straight men to follow are different from the ones they expect queer men to.
The cool thing about freak privilege—if you can get it—is that it’s like a badge of honor. It says, “I’ve been through enough bullshit that I have run out of fucks to give.” It’s a way to use your oppression to set yourself free because suddenly you’re the most dangerous threat of all: a person who cannot be shamed into submission.
I think I finally figured out a way to explain why I think that an attraction to me is always queer that doesn’t involve my genitals, my chest, or really my relationship to them. I think what’s so queer about finding me attractive is that I’ve styled myself in a way that I feel removes me from heteronormative ideas about beauty, attractiveness, and sex appeal.
I should pause here and clarify: almost no matter what I do, I fit into much of the facist beauty norm. I am a pale-skinned, relatively thin-bodied person with even and defined facial features and a narrow nose. I’m not fooled about that, but it’s also not what I’m talking about. Fascist and heteronormative ideals overlap, but they aren’t the same.
I’ve taken my conventionally attractive body and face and subverted heteronormative ideas about what I’m supposed to do with them, decorating them in ways that are not only unmistakably queer, but often confusing or unintelligible when viewed through a straight lens. The system tells me that with this body, I should be working to be pleasing to the male gaze, and instead I’m working to be pleasing to the queer gaze, regardless of the gender of the particular queer person who looks at me. And it works. The other day I joked with my friends that pretty much no matter who you are, I can plausibly act like you and I are romantically involved—if for any reason you need a fake partner in a moment, I can guarantee you will look like you are not single. Unfortunately, in certain situations I am not your safest bet because I can also pretty much guarantee that people will think you’re gay for dating me. I’m male-looking enough to make people who are perceived male look queer, and female-looking enough to make people who are perceived female look queer. And that’s why I feel that the occasional straight person who sees me as attractive is, at least to some degree, queered by that attraction. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re queer people, but I think it’s a universally queer experience.
Things I am getting relaxed about and things I am not getting relaxed about
I went into the women’s bathroom twice this week, and those are the first times I’ve been in that type of space that was designated for women since, I think, the beginning of my junior year of high school. The first time was at school and I went in because I was talking with a friend and she needed to wash her hands. My main objection to using spaces designated for women in that way is that I don’t want to be mistaken for a woman if someone sees me, but at school I feel like most people get it well enough that it’s not such a worry. Today was in a rest stop in Massachusetts. I wouldn’t have done it except that I’m not bound right now and there were a gazillion kids in the “family” bathroom. I figured, whatever, these people don’t know me, they’re never gonna see me again, who cares if they think I’m a woman? I had a bit of a nervous feeling walking in, but I handled it. I have a pretty get-in-get-out-dont -make-eye-contact approach to gendered public bathrooms anyway. Being read as a woman by total strangers is something I can usually deal with these days.
What I can’t deal with is being introduced to people in a context that implies I’m a woman. On Thursday I went to an open mic run by the youth spoken word organization I’ve been a part of for a long time, and the MC, who I’m not close with but should know better, called me to the mic using the wrong pronouns. I think I almost cried. I prefaced my poem by mentioning that I was not a woman, which I felt was a totally awkward way to introduce myself. I keep thinking I’ll get to a point where I’ll be able to say, oh, no, I’m a guy, and we’ll all be able to laugh at the other person’s mistake because of course I’m a guy, what a silly and totally ridiculous error. I hate that that’s my aspiration because I’m not exactly a guy, but it would be easier to have that in my pocket for when I need it. The MC apologized later, which I appreciated, but his excuse was that he hadn’t seen me in a while. That’s just busted.
You Know You're Trans* When: #688 Gay people and straight people refuse to date you for the same reason.
I actually have the opposite experience. Sure, I’ve had experiences with gay guys who wouldn’t date me because I didn’t have a penis, and I wouldn’t be too comfortable dating a straight dude, but I’ve dated gay-identified and straight-identified women. Mostly, though, I’ve dated queer-identified people, and it’s all been great.