Message: Dear Surly Amy,
I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in the skeptics and atheist community. Whenever I read the comment section of some of the blogs talking about a guy spreading psuedoscience and misinformation, especially if he’s a really annoying guy, I find that someone, often a guy, insults him by implying he either performs fellatio or receives anal sex. I find the concept of using these actions as an insult very irksome. To me, it feels like the poster is implying that those who do these actions are less of man, or less deserving of respect.
I’m not sure what to say, or even out to say it. Can you offer some advice to help me better communicate my feelings, or am I just being too sensitive, and just need to let people have their fun?
*Warning lots of NSFW naughty language to follow! Woohoo!
Ever since the blog came into being there have been annoying assholes and the ever present trolls who will hide behind a computer screen and leave all sorts of rude and ridiculous messages. They do so because they can. And when unintelligent people run out of relevant things to say the conversation often turns to ad hom attacks and nasty words. Comment threads are the road rage highway of the digital world. People will type things that they will never say to someone’s face because they know in cyber-anonymity they are protected from repercussion. You can’t punch someone through a computer screen, yet. It’s also important to remember that skeptics and atheists are people too and most people are total pussies.
Which sorta brings us to your main point. Is it ok to say things like, that is so gay, or you suck dick, or atheists and skeptics are total pussies?
No, not really. Unless you are intentionally trying to piss people off. And even then it’s still not the right thing to do. And yes, it’s ok to feel upset about it.
If you really stop and analyze the statements like the those mentioned above, you realize that they are insulting not only to the individual people they are directed at but also at large generalized groups of people. When I call a weak man or someone who I think is acting in a way I don’t like, a “pussy” I am essentially saying that feminine qualities are weak and less desired. Do I personally think that is the case? No, of course not but the sentiment is clearly implied. The same thing happens whenever someone says, “you suck dick” or “that is so gay.” It implies that behavior is wrong. In fact, the latter comment has been a very difficult habit for me personally to break. Thanks to adored shows like Southpark and my southern California upbringing I grew up thinking the phrase, “that is so gay” was a completely acceptible non-offensive way to imply that I didn’t like something. I still sometimes catch myself in front of my gay friends saying, “Oh sorry! I mean gay in the lame way, not you know, gay in the gay way which is totally cool.” Yeah, I sound like a complete idiot when that happens and I feel terrible about it. I love my gay friends. I would never want to offend them. I hope I have finally broke that verbal bad-habit. At least I haven’t caught myself saying it lately. Now I say, “That is so lame!” I sincerely hope I don’t offend any large groups of people with stubbed toes. If so, it is not my intention.
So what about when a man calls another man a pussy as an insult. Should I be upset as a woman and owner of a pussy? Maybe, but honestly I am usually not bothered by it. I understand what is meant and the context it is used in and I realize that it is meant to be inflammatory. The same goes for someone who tells someone else they take it up the ass. It is meant to make them angry, but it will only make someone angry if they let it.
The point is, you absolutely have a right to feel upset about it. But it probably isn’t worth it. As gay culture and equal rights become more prevalent and accepted in society and as the language evolves, people will feel less at home using phrases like the ones mentioned above but for now, they are for better or worse, part of the subculture and part of our slang.
People will also stop using those statements to piss people off if the statements stop pissing people off.
The best response next time someone calls you a cock-sucker-pussy who takes it up the ass is to say, “Thank you very much! And your boyfriend says I take it like a champ.”
On a related note, I just visited London and I loved how people use the word, “cunt” in a friendlier less offensive way than they do here. I have been trying to bring that back to the states but so far none of my friends have been too receptive to being referred to as cunts.
Another thing to remember is when a commenter on a thread reverts to using abusive words and personal attacks, you can always just ignore them. They make themselves look like idiots without any help from the rest of us.
*I hope no idiots were offended by this post. It was not my intention.
Got a question you would like some Surly-Skepchick advice on? Send it in! We wonâ€™t publish your real name, unless you want us to and creative pseudonyms get bonus points! Just use the contact link on the top left of the page.
*Ask Surly Amy is meant for entertainment purposes only. All advice should be taken with as much skepticism as anything else, really.