Words Mean Things

Words Mean Things.

This is a phrase that comes to mind with increasing regularity these days. It seems to me that certain unscrupulous people like to play games with words, to make them mean things they do not actually mean. I am going, therefore, to start tracking these incidents, in order to remind people that words do, in fact, mean things. And that perhaps they should be more careful in how they use those words to mean things.

Let's start with feminism. In the comments at Liss' reprint of The Terrible Bargain (which, by the way, is the most stunningly brilliant bit of writing I have ever read. Read it now.) at CiFA, some idiot said:

For example, if a woman driver cuts me up, I might think, 'Stupid bitch!' in anger. This is clearly a gendered insult -- but I don't think it's misogynistic. I consider myself a feminist and still use these terms.

Um. Really? Dear commenter, let me introduce you to feminism, wherein it is not acceptable to use gendered insults, even in anger. You acknowledge that "bitch" is a gendered insult, but you see nothing wrong with using it and still calling yourself a feminist? Feminism: you do not haz it.

In case your enlightened feminist brain cannot think of a single alternative to shout at a woman who's upset you on the road, let me supply some ideas: Stupid fucker! Fucking asshole! Shithead! Idiot meatwad! Mindless fuckwit!

Now that you have these alternatives, I invite you to continue upon your merry way, and either mend your gendered-insult habits or stop calling yourself a feminist. Because Words Mean Things, and for so long as you're willing to use gendered insults, you are not a feminist.

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