5th September 2007

Only my friends can call me a ‘Ho’

You can’t use that hateful slur! Only WE can use that word!

Seems like another celebrity is in trouble for offending a group of people by using a word.

I don’t get it. Why is it okay for gay men to call each other the “F-word” (and brother please don’t try to tell me that you don’t – I hear it with my own ears all the time, with my friends), but it’s not okay for Jerry Lewis to use it as a joke? Why is it okay for African-Americans to call each other the “N-word”, but it’s not okay for Caucasians to use it? Why is it okay for women to call each other “Ho” (and some do, just as they call each other the “B-word”) but it’s not okay for men (such as Don Imus) to use that word?

Where is the firestorm of outrage when a gay man uses the F-word, or a rapper uses the N-word or refers to a woman as a “Ho” or “B**ch” in one of his raps?

I’m not defending the use of the words themselves – I find them offensive too – but I’m appalled by the hypocrisy. I don’t buy the argument that it’s about the “intent”. That somehow it’s okay if the words are used with affection or in jest amongst peers versus using them to insult or offend others. That somehow it’s okay if you’re a rapper trying to keep it real on your record. I disagree with the philosophy that “if we take the word back and use it ourselves we take away it’s power”. “Owning” the slur doesn’t make it less of a nasty word. A slur is a slur. It just teaches some people that it’s okay to use it while confusing the rest of us. It causes misunderstanding and hurt feelings when someone who isn’t supposed to use it, and doesn’t know they aren’t supposed to use it, does. It causes some of us to have to struggle with explaining to our children why there is so much hypocrisy over this subject.

Don’t try to tell me you’ve suffered some “damage” by others’ use of words that you and your friends also use. If you don’t like certain words, and don’t want others using them to describe you, then stop using them yourself. If your friends use the words, don’t laugh them off. Only then can you righteously justify slapping down someone else who does. Others may not stop using them, but at least you’ll no longer be a hypocrite.

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  1. Rebecca Thorman, September 10, 2007, 7:41 pm

    Hm. Interesting. My best friend and I call each other names all the time, endearingly of course. We’ve known each other for such a long time that it’s a safety zone when we’re together and we can laugh at things that might in fact be hypocritical. I wonder if you’re right and we are encouraging the stereotype/slur by using certain words with ourselves… thank you for making me think!

  2. Trisha, September 11, 2007, 6:16 pm

    Hi Rebecca – thanks for dropping by! I have to admit that my best friend (and two sisters) and I did the same thing, also with affection, never giving it much thought. But when the incident with Don Imus occurred, and caused such uproar, it made me think about it as well. Although I’m not a fan of his (I have always found his shtick to be offensive), I really felt he was railroaded by hypocrisy.

    Because I believe that you can only follow one path – you either find them offensive and don’t use them, or use them and don’t find them offensive, the girls and I made a pact to stop using them. Now we just call each other “sissy” (short for sistah/sister). :)

  3. Deb, September 19, 2007, 3:53 pm

    I do agree with you that Don Imus was railroaded, I have heard and seen much more offensive words and behavior by Howard Stern and he is incredibly popular. I believe in free speech but do the rest of us have to hear offensive things?? It should be freedom of speech without offensive language written in the constitution but in those days they didn’t have all of our made up words. I just call my friends “Girlfriend” and I use it so much I have started calling my cat “girlfriend” when I talk to her.