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Author Topic: Advice on PC terms
skdadl
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 478

posted 26 October 2005 02:50 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
In serious anger, I just made a reference to Canada's "whoring" in Haiti. And I meant it, or at least I meant that I believe the role Canada is now playing in Haiti, the murderous role we are playing, the evil role we are playing, has been outsourced to us little guys because it is the kind of junior-league imperial oppression that is just our size, even easier for us than Afghanistan, eg, although that would be another similar wee project.

And gee: for that one, we just got patted on the head approvingly yesterday by Condi Rice.

Who should be in jail. And if there is a God in heaven, soon will be.

Anyway, I recognize that equating prostitution with murderousness and evil is wrong of me, although I still think that likening the Bush administration to pimps vis-a-vis us is probably fair.

What should I have said?


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2534

posted 26 October 2005 03:03 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I refuse to be that pc. La Presse chroniqueur Pierre Foglia wrote that the authors of the right-wing "Québec lucide" manifesto were "putes" - that they were whores, or whoring. Admittedly such a comparison is insulting to sex workers, but his meaning that they were selling their expertise to the highest bidder was clear.

I won't apologise for calling Condi Rice a murderous bitch either - if she had been a man I would have said murderous bastard. True, if one analyses the root meaning of those terms BOTH could be seen as insulting to women, but many terms have rather sorry backgrounds, no?

I suppose "bitch" can have a sexual connotation of "looseness", like a female dog doing it in the road, but in everyday parlance "bastard" and "bitch" are commonly used to refer to people who do very nasty and vicious things, not to "sexually-loose" women or worse still, to "illegitimate" children.


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Amy
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posted 26 October 2005 03:07 PM      Profile for Amy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The way that Lagatta put it is absolutely how I think of the terms, although I think it would have taken me about 5 pages in an essay to explain what she did in a couple of paragraphs. There is, though, a fine line between a term with a "sorry background" and a sorry "present", and I think that's where the question gets rather complicated.

Edited to add: For those "fine line" cases (bitch and bastard being the two most prominent in my mind, but also since I am queer, that word comes up too), I don't have a strict rule, but rather judge by what I feel would be OK, to my internal standards and according to how well the people around me would understand the sense in which I am using them.

[ 26 October 2005: Message edited by: Amy ]


From: the whole town erupts and/ bursts into flame | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
brebis noire
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Babbler # 7136

posted 26 October 2005 03:12 PM      Profile for brebis noire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I agree - it's an insult to prostitutes to compare them to those who kill or suppress human rights and liberties.

You could just be blunt and say that we're sending our soldiers out to be thugs for the gangland boss.


From: Quebec | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 26 October 2005 03:14 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah, I think there's room for disagreement when it comes to those terms, and I don't think either side is necessarily "right" or "wrong" when it comes to whether to use those terms.

Personally, I like to use "whoring" as a verb, because I feel like there's something kind of subversive about using a word that has been traditionally used to degrade "scarlet" women, to describe parallel actions by powerful people (male or female) who sell out.

I mean, "whoring" has always been a nasty term for a woman who sells sex (and thus, sells her principles, in traditional-thinking terms), right? I think the term "whore" when referring to a sex-trade worker has a lot more to do with moral judgment of the person than of the actual act she performs. So I kind of like to stand that term on its ear and use it to describe other behaviour that is much more abhorrent and unprincipled than performing a sexual service for pay.

As for "bitch" - well, I have appropriated that term too, and I use it in verb form to describe nagging or nasty speech, or in noun form to describe people, male or female, who engage in nastiness. I don't really have much of a problem with the term being used unless it's being used in a specifically gendered way to refer to a woman simply because she IS a woman.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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Babbler # 2534

posted 26 October 2005 03:16 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, but what about the Foglia case? He wasn't referring to murderers or thugs, but "intellectuals" (supposedly) penning cant to shore up the powers-that-be and call for a backlash against movements for social progress in Québec by the labour, women's and other social movements.

I agree that "putes" is unfair to sex workers, but what term would be more apt?


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
brebis noire
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posted 26 October 2005 03:26 PM      Profile for brebis noire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I dunno lagatta, but after a while I get the feeling that using terms like 'whoring' or 'pute' almost becomes a euphemism - as if we can't just come out and say that what the signataires are doing is unfair or 'ignare', that they're selling-out or they're only looking after their own interests while society goes to hell. I just feel like there has to be a more creative way to put these things.
"Pute", for me, just isn't strong enough to convey the horror and disdain! Like, *yawn*...

From: Quebec | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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Babbler # 560

posted 26 October 2005 03:29 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm not sure that it IS unfair to sex workers to use "whores" to describe unprincipled people.

I think it has to do with the deconstruction of the term "whore". When people use the word "whore" to describe a sex worker, are they using it as a reference to the actual act they are performing, or are they using it to describe the moral act of selling their virtue or their principles? I mean, there are lots of other value-neutral terms that refer to the occupation or the act of selling sex (or a person who does so) in itself.

So I think an argument can be made that the word "whoring" refers more to the moral act of selling your principles for a price (since those who seriously use the term to describe prostitutes believe that is what women who sell sex are doing since they feel it's unprincipled) than merely a description of the physical act in itself.

Which is why it can be satisfying to use the term metaphorically when discussing someone - particularly someone with power who might consider themselves "above" a prostitute in moral standing - who is selling out their principles. It's a way of taking a term that has been used against the vulnerable, and turning it back on those who would persecute them. A way of saying, "You're the REAL whore."

People like Dubya are the REAL whores, not women who sell sex.

[ 26 October 2005: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
blake 3:17
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posted 26 October 2005 04:01 PM      Profile for blake 3:17     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
skdadl, glad you brought this up. Calling Canada a whore is to rely on a very conservative common sense.

In part because it's demeaning of sex workers and in part because it's not a good analogy. Canada's role in US imperialism is more of a maid's or butler's role rather than a whore's.

I'm a bit touchy about the term as an insult. In the past year one friend who did sex work died of AIDS and another has been in a psych hospital for almost a year. The stigma of being a 'whore' affected both. And neither have been lackeys of power or money but have been real rebels.

Thanks also lagatta for raising "bitch" and "bastard". I know I use the terms when I'm under a great deal of stress. As insults or plain categories they are very conservative. At home we refer to the misogynist twists of crime TV as "factor B". Quel surprise.


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blake 3:17
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posted 26 October 2005 04:11 PM      Profile for blake 3:17     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I agree in spirit, Michelle, but practically whore is a derogatory term used against women and men who have sex with men for a fee.

Not exactly bombing or starving a people out of existence.

I don't see why "mass murderer" or "killer for hire" is less accurate or insulting.

Bush II isn't a whore, the dude's a john at best.

And a cheap one at that.


From: Toronto | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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Babbler # 560

posted 26 October 2005 04:19 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Heh. Depends on the context when it comes to Dubya. He's a whore to the oil companies, a pimp to the military, and a john to the religious right. I see your point, though.

[ 26 October 2005: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Stephen Gordon
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Babbler # 4600

posted 26 October 2005 06:49 PM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by lagatta:
Yes, but what about the Foglia case? He wasn't referring to murderers or thugs, but "intellectuals" (supposedly) penning cant to shore up the powers-that-be and call for a backlash against movements for social progress in Québec by the labour, women's and other social movements.

I agree that "putes" is unfair to sex workers, but what term would be more apt?


See, this is pretty much the distinction between intellectual opposition and intellectual sloth, and it would appear that Foglia pole-vaulted from the former to the latter. Does Pierre Foglia have any reason to believe that the 'Québec lucide' signatories did not in fact believe the words to which they signed their name? Or did he just decide that arguing against 'Québec lucide' was too much work, and that it was easier (and probably more effective) to call them names?

[edited to add]:
It's of course fair game to use this epithet against GWB et al when talking about Iraq and WMD, because there is reason to believe that they didn't believe what they were saying.

[ 26 October 2005: Message edited by: Stephen Gordon ]


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lagatta
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2534

posted 26 October 2005 09:50 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Who knows? But I have had the misfortune of hearing the disgusting Alain Dubuc (a former far-leftist) defending the manifesto. Trying to find a word foul enough to describe his perfidy without it being cause for prosecution...

Hmm... Benito e Rachele nella piazza


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged

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