I finally found a decent Freshly Pressed post!

And as it follows the same theme as the last couple of posts on here:

Bitch-slapped and harlot


Free speech

I recommend a read. (Link at the bottom)

The words feminist and vegetarian aren’t mentioned, but it is about LGBTQs.

More to the point, it talks about how language does offend, insult and distress people, whether it is intended or not.

I could say, see, I told you so, but I won’t.

I can’t speak for LGBTQs or put myself in their shoes, but Dr Kevin Nadal, Associate Professor of Psychology does it eloquently enough, based on a research study over some years into ‘microaggression’. In cloudyroughseas words, I would call that insulting or offensive language that is derogatory to a certain group of people.

It’s written in readable English rather than academic speech and apart from the vile design of the blog and the ghastly header, I found it a very easy, yet thoughtul read.

The main point to take out of all this, is that there is not one set of rules or approved language for one minority group, it’s really about thinking more. It’s no good trying to put together a checklist, eg roughseas says don’t say x, y and z and remembering those. Just think whether the words you are using are insulting, or could be construed as insulting by someone else.

Nadal used the phrase ‘It’s so gay’ as his first example. To my understanding, describing something like that is an inferred insult, because the assumption is, being gay is not good or desirable.

An easy feminist example would be calling someone a stupid cunt. There is no way that is a compliment. I’m speaking specifically about English usage here as Spanish usage has too many variations on that one, some of which are actually nice.

Another different minority group is people who have learning or physical disabilities. These days would you really call people a spastic if you wanted to insult them? Or refer to someone as a Mongol (Down Syndrome)?

How many British people remember the old ice cream joke? The one where you ask someone an easy question but they keep getting it wrong because they have learning/physical disabilities. Finally they get the answer right, and you reward them with an ice cream and they promptly miss their mouth and slap it on their forehead. I’ll confess here and now I used to laugh at it. I wouldn’t laugh now, nor would I retell it. Not that I am any good at telling jokes. The same goes for rape jokes. Rape is not funny.

Don’t get trapped by the reclamation of language brigade either. This is normally where minority groups take back words that have been absorbed into mainstream language as derogatory terms. I don’t buy into this on the grounds it is too academic, too élitist, and is only understood by a tiny sector of the population. Remember too, within any given group of people, there are always going to be differences of opinion. I don’t like ‘Guys’ as a supposedly gender neutral term. I don’t think it is at all. That’s a bit like saying in documents, ‘wherever the word he is used it is intended to refer to both sexes’. Well, ‘he’ doesn’t. And what it does do, is continue to suggest that women are also-rans who can be encompassed by a male pronoun, or noun. Some feminists (usually American) accept the use of ‘Guys’. Lots of women routinely use it, in the case of British women, often to show how cool they are because they can use American language. They probably say Awesome and go to Disneyland on holiday too.

Finally, if you do click on the link to the blog, check out some of the comments. There are a few more examples of words that upset people, and surprisingly, a lot of people who say they have changed how they speak and write, once they realised that many words they used were not just thoughtless but caused distress to other people.

And at this point, thanks to Andrew and Pink, who have said in previous comments, that they have taken on board some of what I have written about language.

Is this a better Freshly Pressed post than anything any of us write? No. But it is at least a decent sensible one.

That’s So Gay blog post.


About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in blogging, feminism, gender-specific language, life, thoughts, wordpress and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to I finally found a decent Freshly Pressed post!

  1. davidprosser says:

    By heck, you don’t hold back sometimes do you. I’m actually glad though as it’s made me examine some of the things I say ( including ‘guys’ on occasion I’m afraid). I’ve referred to gay neighbours as gaybours in jest only as they’re delightful people, but maybe I offend. Offence being the last thing I’d like to offer (most) people.Maybe this is just what I needed to read today.
    xxx Hugs xxx


    • It was quite moderate I thought 🙂 If you want a no holds barred post I can write one.

      Guys is such a macho word. And of course when I point out that I don’t like it and find it offensive/insulting people then get offended with ME! I got a PM on a forum last week saying Hi Guys. My name is not one that can be confused with a male name eg Lesley/Leslie, Jo/Joe, Sam etc it is very clearly a woman’s name. What do I do? ignore it and let it slide or point it out and risk racking someone off? Well they’ve already annoyed me, so what the hell. But how best to do it? Sometimes it will never sink in anyway.

      I don’t think I’d be using gaybours I have to say. Why make sexual preference a description of someone who lives next door? We had some gay neighbours some years ago, and we called them neighbours like everyone else. After all we don’t say heteroneighbours, or lesbours (in the case of lesbian ones). I get what you are saying about the same sound but, not my choice.

      Anyway, if it was an interesting read, that’s all and good. And how many hours have you been up now? We had a luxury lie-in till 7am. Not sure it did any good though 😀


  2. pinkagendist says:

    You made a better case. He’s a little bit whiny.


    • I’m not LGBTQ so I can’t claim to speak for any of you. I can speak for women/feminists and for carrot crunchers/lettuce eaters (vegetarians) and treehuggers (environmentalists). It was a useful example of a different type of discriminatory language. You mean his was ‘poor sad me?’ 😀


      • pinkagendist says:

        Yes. I don’t like it when people don’t own their experience. Life is tough, when we’re in a minority it’s tougher. Prejudice is everywhere, it’s part of human nature. People pre-judge out of fear, out of conditioning, to establish ‘superiority’ in a hierarchy etc. It’s much more a social technique than a personal affront- although it often feels like the latter.

        Dr. Nadal was hurt that someone told him that “boys don’t cry” or to “be a man”. I don’t see why either of those lines are particularly hurtful. They’re patriarchal noise repeated ad nauseum- and let’s be honest, rather meaningless. Sensitivity has its importance, but so does the ability to hear things and dismiss them or respond appropriately.

        When I was around ten, I was given a list of things that boys were and weren’t supposed to do. Don’t cross legs, don’t talk about this, talk about that, team sports, short hair blah blah blah. Once my grandfather was finished speaking I turned to him and said, who in the world says you get to arbitrarily and unilaterally define what anyone else is supposed to be or do? Thanks for your perspective, but no thank you. Then I asked him if I should put together a list of what I thought he should do differently. And that was the last time (penultimate to be more precise) he ever tried that sort of talk on me. We have to be able to fight our own corner. If we allow ourselves to be victimized we live as victims. I was never prepared to be a victim.


        • Me writing about LGBTQ would be like me writing about black/racist issues. So I don’t get into it. I will get into the lingusitics debate about anything because the general principles carry across the board.

          I empathise with minority groups but also accept that I’m doing it from a happy little white middle class situation (more or less). Rich mixed race-gay v white woman of floating social class and income? I think you trounce me there. Ergo, you have more privilege, despite the gay ‘tag’. And how many people would know you were gay if you didn’t tell them? Probably just think you were some good-looking man and think no more of it.

          OK, I agree there was no need to be hurt, but it was patriarchal and that was the point that he was probably trying to make and didn’t put across successfully. It’s like the old one of cuddling little girls in a corner and showing little boys the window because that big wide world out there is all for them to conquer. Patriarchy is not that easy to recognise at such a young age.

          You were a smarter ten-year-old than me. I believed every single word I was told for many years. Apart from that my destiny was to become a mother, a housewife and a drudge. That one didn’t sink in too well.

          And we have to remember where people are coming from. Nadal’s post does explain it well and emotionally to people who have no idea what the whole issue is, about discrimination and abusive language. Some people do feel like victims, some people do feel abused, and those who have no understanding might learn something from his description.

          Hey, what do I care. Just don’t call me a lady.


          • pinkagendist says:

            Not sure I get to call myself mixed race 🙂 Of my eight great-grandparents, 7 were Iberian/Occitane and one was Austrian.


          • How exotic you are. My father finally confessed one day that he had some Lancastrian ancestry. Given the Wars of the Roses, my mother and I were not impressed. Just as well he didn’t declare that before he married her. Anyway that’s my claim to mixed race, a blot on my clean Yorkshire heritage.


          • pinkagendist says:

            Exotic indeed. Nothing more exotic than Occitania which spans southern France and northern Iberia 😉 Ham, another ham and a different ham- is my culture. Did I mention we feed pigs special food so their ham is… ? Ham. Of course Columbus was one of us! Does that count?


          • It’s exotic to me. Everything is relative. The most contact I had with ham was selling it. But it was Danish. I like pigs. I couldn’t eat them now. Yuk. It’s a shame I became vegetarian before I moved to Spain as one of my life experiences that I’ve missed out on is jamón íberico or serrano. I’ve only managed Parma and whatever they dish up in France. I’m waiting for a vegetarian company to make a good fake jamón. A Spanish firm does a good salami and mortadella, so I live in hopes.

            I thought there were some doubts about where Columbus came from. James Cook came from Yorkshire though so I can match Columbus any day.

            What were you doing up after 2am apart from messing around on the internet? Uncivilised time of day/night.


  3. Disappointed to find you looking at Freshly-Pressed! I didn’t find the article that exciting I have to say.
    There is a big debate in UK at the moment about the word ‘Yid’ and Tottenham Hotspurs supporters defending the right to call themselves in this way.
    I used to get called ‘tich’ at school – it never really bothered me but you might argue that it is just as offensive as ‘fatty’ or ‘lanky’ or ‘four-eyes’ or even ‘brainy’!


    • There was a reason although I’m not sure what it was. No new blogs on Reader and avoiding the washing up possibly?

      Now, did I say it was exciting? No. I said it was a decent read, but no better than anything any of us write. But it served to make a point that I couldn’t although along the same lines of free speech/offensive words.

      Anyway the Yid debate is interesting. Growing up on the market stall with Jewish stallholders around us, Yiddish was a familiar term that I was used to and I learned basic words like goy, shiksa and shul and they were described as Yiddish rather than Jewish. I’m sure things have moved on over the last 40 years but colloquial usage back then was Yiddish for the language rather than the people.

      I will own up to using Yid in private, ie with Partner, due to sheer laziness, but I wouldn’t use it in public. It’s a nice easy word to use, rolls off the tongue nicely and rhymes neatly with Yid Kids. Living in the Jewish quarter of Gib, and in a Jewish freehold owned block, we often end up talking about Jewish neighbours (and even to them!). But Yid Kids is a bit like David above said about gaybours, for gay neighbours.

      While back wen I was a kid Yiddish wasn’t seen as pejorative I don’t remember calling Jewish people Yids. I think once the words start to take on an offensive meaning, it is time to back off. A bit like Pakis. I grew up in Yidland and Pakiland 😀 The Spurs debate sounds like the reclamation I mentioned above in my post.

      People did use tich at my school too. If I remember I was probably called lanky and skinny well into adult life. Oh and flat-chested. Pink’s comment about not allowing ourselves to become victims is interesting. My wider point is not about insulting people per se, it’s about not continuing the perpetuation of stereotypes down through society. Uf, Sunday evening, shouldn’t have to think now!


  4. EllaDee says:

    Very interesting. We can never take enough care to understand and respect others’ points of view. My heart went out to Dr Nadal that he had to–has to navigate such a world. I realise I’m fortunate not to on a personal basis although it is a world I too inhabit, sadly.
    When I was in primary school, the worst I was called was “snob” due to my manifestation of shy. I never took the word to heart, the people who said them were just kids who had never known anything, anywhere else. I was shy, it was limiting and the words gave me the impetus to change that. I try to be thoughtful with my linguistics because I would hate to offend anyone unintentionally. I have my own pet hates… I had a dog of a day, that person is a dog, what a cow, oh-so catty… and so on. Weird yes, but these animals have traits I admire.
    If I do want to make a point I don’t need to call people names or use thoughtless labels. And, I truly believe everyone should be able to be freely who or what they choose, or simply are. In the office the employment policies undertake to ensure the workplace is supportive of EEO and free from such behaviours as vilification, discrimination, victimisation, bullying and harassment. It’s not difficult to carry those behaviours through to ‘real life’.
    Both my work and external daily life environments are a melting pot of demographics, so I tend not to pay much attention to different-from-me, which I’m comfortable with in most of its incarnations except when I somehow find myself in certain situations, unfortunately far too often in my native WASP environment, where I’m the one who leaves the room when conversation turns to ‘boat people, dole bludgers, and so on”. I can’t be bothered wasting my breath fighting them but I certainly will not join them. In that environment I’m nobody’s keeper but my own.
    “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” truly meant something when I was a kid, and still do as an adult. Nothing I ever thought was really bad was said to me, or because I looked both then and now at the person displaying ignorance via their words and dismiss their worth – both the words and the person, I never gave it much weight. However, If offence came from someone I admire then I’d either be devastated if it was aimed at me personally, and defend myself, or otherwise enlighten them.
    The other childhood favourite “if you can’t say anything nice say nothing at all” drummed into us is a cathcphrase we could all do to remember.But what is nice these days, and not? Times have changed and we need to keep up with them in our speech. Just as it’s old-fashioned to use thee’s and thy’s, regardless of how we feel about the loss of the original connotation of the words gay, spastic, etc it’s dead and gone.


    • I’ve been called a snob too. Not sure why, but anyway, I was. Maybe because I was shy too? Still am, but in a different way. Or maybe just introverted. Pink (above) kindly informed me on his blog that I am schizoid like him. If so, I think there must be a lot of schizoid people around.

      What is interesting about the animal words, is that they are invariably directed as adjectives/nouns at women though, eg bitch, catty, cow, dog. Does that mean that women are the same as animals I ask? Now, given that animals are generally far nicer than people, that wouldn’t be an issue, except we both know those words are not being used as compliments.

      I’ve never worked in an office environment that has truly carried out non-discriminatory policies. For whatever reason, people have always talked with/confided in me, so I’ve heard what people really think.


      ‘Oh look at her, she looks like a prostitute from Amsterdam.’

      Said woman happened to be one of my neighbours ie a couple of streets away, and after an initial few spats, we started to get on well, realising that we actually came from the same perspective even though our working lives could put us on opposite sides of the fence. She would always stop and give me a lift when I gave up my car too, which is more than some of my colleagues did.


      ‘X only got that job because she is coloured (Asian), she isn’t very good at what she does.’

      I have no idea whether she was any good or not, but the fact remains that in dealing with an Asian community it does help to have someone who a) speaks one or more of their languages and b) understands their culture.

      Very different situation here, although Aus now doesn’t sound any different to 20 or 30 years ago. The conversations were still about boat people and dole bludgers. Here the conversation is invariably about Spaniards coming here, working, taking their money back to Spain, often smuggling tobacco, and not putting anything into the Gibraltar economy (apart from buying above the allowance of fags of course). It’s hard to walk away from those conversations when you agree with them.

      While words don’t physically hurt, they can be damaging in that they do continue to spread ideas and beliefs that some groups of society aren’t normal, or as good as others, or in extreme cases, shouldn’t even exist. Fighting prejudiced ideas and ingrained beliefs is important however much of a losing battle it sometimes seems.

      I’d never heard that one in my childhood. Gay as in cheerful, frolicsome wasn’t a word I particularly used anyway. Looking at my computer dictionary, it says gay is little used in that sense, partly because of the implication of double entendre, and the main use nowadays is for male homosexuals.

      As you say, language changes, and I am happy to see it change to reflect greater sensitivity and thoughtfulness towards others.


  5. restlessjo says:

    I might “think before I speak” for so long that I never utter another word. And that might not be such a bad thing. I’m usually more careful about what I put into print, but you will have caught me addressing people as “guys” in a carefree manner. I’m not in the habit of saying “isn’t that queer?” more because it sounds antiquated than because it’s offensive. And in context that is obviously a good thing. Weak smile 🙂


    • To be honest, it’s actually easy. It’s just a mindset to slip into, and once you are there, you are unlikely to get out of it. What I say at home with Partner is another matter, even I need time out! but we don’t use the same language in the street.

      I do think about what I print too, but given that I sound off about language, you would expect me to. The only reason I slip up is when jargon changes for minority groups that I am not up on. There was a fuss some time ago about brainstorming because it was deemed insulting to people with epilepsy (I think), so everyone had to find another word for brainstorming, then they decided it was ok after all. Aaaagh! It’s like the blackboard/chalkboard debate. Can you not use the word black at all????? As I recall, years back, chalky was an offensive term for a white person. Both blackboard and chalkboard are correct, but perhaps it should be a writing board? I would stick with the original blackboard myself, especially having looked up chalk on urban dictionary.

      I haven’t noticed you saying guys but I don’t catch all your posts. Or maybe I blanked it out. There are plenty of alternatives though, eg people, everyone, or folks as I read recently. Or just readers?

      I wouldn’t use queer in that context either, more likely odd or strange. I think it is a word that is rarely used nowadays.


  6. Kev says:

    I must be having a dense moment, but what is: LGBTQs? 😦


    • Try google otherwise, lesbian gay bisexual transgender and queer. The Q is sometimes left off, I have no idea why. I don’t belong to any of those groups but I don’t want to exclude anyone so I go for the whole big bang.

      What are by the way, not what is.


      • Kev says:

        Oh. I’m not into any of that either, but I don’t judge people who are…it’s life-style choice as far as I’m concerned. Just so long as they don’t try pushing it in my face, I’m ok with it.

        Thanks for the correction, but had it been simple abbreviation for one thing as I thought it was, I would have been correct, so there! 😛


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