As a Privileged Person®, it is natural that you would feel excluded and frustrated by the recent spate of Marginalised People “reclaiming” historically negative words to refer to themselves.
Not only do these Marginalised People™ kick up a great big ole stink by making it “politically incorrect” for Privileged People® to use these words - even going so far as to have some of them defined under ‘hate crime’ legislation! - they take the insult one step further and use them freely amongst themselves!
This is very perplexing and annoying for Privileged People®, who can only stand on the outside, gazing wistfully in, wishing it were a simpler time when it was totally okay for everyone to call women whores, Mexicans spics, Trans* folk trannies, gay men faggots and people of African descent the n-word.
After all, who do those Marginalised People™ think they are, taking ownership of language traditionally used to oppress them! That just isn’t playing fair!
But take heart, because there is a way you can worm around this one - where there’s Privilege®, there’s always a way!
First of all, you must feign utter cluelessness about the ins & outs of reclaimation and behave as though you were under the impression that in these ‘post race/sex/sexuality/gender/etc times’ that we had all evolved into a new era where ‘words don’t mean anything’ and it’s totally okay for everyone to use offensive slurs and then… well: use them.
When a Marginalised Person™ calls you out on it, become indignant. Express confusion. Demand an explanation. Say that you just don’t understand - if you people use those words to refer to each other, why can’t I?!
You see, you’re implying that they’re being hypocritical. That if they are going to use abusive & oppressionist language aongst each other, they simply have to accept that they’re employing a ‘double standard’ by preventing the Privileged® from using them.
What this enables you to ignore is the reality of the power dynamic involved. Language reclaimation is a means by which Marginalised People™ gain back some power they are traditionally denied by taking control of words used to demean and discriminate against them. When these words come from Privileged People®, there is a long and very serious negative history behind them that cannot be divorced from the words themselves. Thus, when Privileged People® employ these words, they are perpetuating that history and the psychology behind the word. They are exercising oppressive power that have become inherent to those words - a power Marginalised People™ seek to subvert and dismantle when they use them.
Pretend not to understand this. Just continue to imply hypocrisy and pout that it isn’t fair.
It also ignores the fact that, from within Marginalised Groups™, discourses around abusive language are actually not simple and there are many divided and varied opinions on the subject. Treating Marginalised People™ like a hive mind is always a great way to further subtly insult them and since the point of this entire debacle is to come out with as many notches on your belt as possible, you want to make sure you slip in as many knocks below their belt as you can manage.
This isn’t about mutual tolerance because there’s nothing mutual about it. If we agree to disagree on this issue, you walk away a full member of this society and I don’t. There is no “live and let live” on this issue because Dan Cathy is spending millions to very specifically NOT let me live. I’m not trying to do that to him.
Asking for “mutual tolerance” on this like running up to a bully beating a kid to death on the playground and scolding them both for not getting along. I’m not trying to dissolve Mr. Cathy’s marriage or make his sex illegal. I’m not trying to make him a second-class citizen, or get him killed. He’s doing that to me, folks; I’m just fighting back.
All your life, you’re told to stand up to bullies, but when WE do it, we’re told WE are the ones being intolerant? Well, okay. Yes. I refuse to tolerate getting my ass kicked. “Guilty as charged.”
But what are you guilty of? When you see a bully beating up a smaller kid and you don’t take a side, then you ARE taking a side. You’re siding with the bully. And when you cheer him on, you’re revealing something about your own character that really is a shame.
From birth we’re taught that we’re owed a beautiful girl. We all think of ourselves as the hero of our own story, and we all (whether we admit it or not) think we’re heroes for just getting through our day.
So it’s very frustrating, and I mean frustrating to the point of violence, when we don’t get what we’re owed. A contract has been broken. These women, by exercising their own choices, are denying it to us. It’s why every Nice Guy is shocked to find that buying gifts for a girl and doing her favors won’t win him sex. It’s why we go to “slut” and “whore” as our default insults — we’re not mad that women enjoy sex. We’re mad that women are distributing to other people the sex that they owed us.
Yes, the women in these stories are being portrayed as wonderful and beautiful and perfect. But remember, there are two ways to dehumanize someone: by dismissing them, and by idolizing them.