Gervais “will continue to use offensive words like cunt, atheism & Derek” »« Gang-raped by men accusing her of having extramarital sex

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Another blow struck for the right to call people cunts.

gerv

Ricky Gervais
If you grabbed Hitler and shouted “stop killing innocent people you cunt”, someone on Facebook would call you out on your sexist language.

And?

Has Ricky Gervais ever done a Facebook post saying “If you grabbed Hitler and shouted ‘stop killing innocent people you kike’, someone on Facebook would call you out on your anti-semitic language”?

I don’t know for sure, but I seriously doubt it. People like him don’t defend calling people niggers or kikes, but they do defend calling people cunts. Why is that? Because the first is not ok while the second is ok. Why? I can only conclude it’s because hatred of women just doesn’t even show up on the radar of people like Ricky Gervais.

I despise people like Ricky Gervais…and Penn Jillette and all the rest of the “it’s hip to use misogynist epithets because everybody knows women are dreary buzzkilling cunts” crowd.

H/t Stephanie

Comments

  1. says

    And the worst of it is that much like Ricky Gervais, several Brit folks, women included, regularly raise their voice to vigorously defend their right to use the word c**t as a slur — especially when called out on it — and saying that its use in Brit English was been ‘normalized’ (whatever that means) to a non-gendered state.

    Gaah! :(

  2. iknklast says

    I was watching a British play the other night (in Lincoln, NE), where the word “cunt” was thrown around as an insult practically every other word, lobbed at men and women alike. The audience roared with laughter every time it occurred. This is apparently the funniest thing in the world, to call someone a cunt. Neither my husband nor I were amused. It was not funny, it was not clever, it was just plain disgusting. Especially since all the female roles in the play seemed to exist for the purpose of sex. Women were not given any other role in life, except the one that was a mother, who appeared rather sexless. My husbands response to the play? It was bollocks. I agree.

  3. MFHeadcase says

    If you grabbed Hitler and shouted “stop killing innocent people you cunt”, someone on Facebook would quite properly call you out on your sexist language.

    Fixed that for him.

  4. timberwoof says

    During his interview on Actor’s Studio, Sir Ian McKellen was asked his least favorite word. He replied that he had nothing against the people who had them, just the use of the word as a derogatory: cunt.

    Iknklas: Bollocks, you say? Well. Lets not be dicks about it.

  5. HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr says

    What’s reinforcing misogyny when you can fantasize about being the big hero fighting Hitler? I mean, it’s just women, right?

    There are many things you could call Hitler, but apparently being in some way like a vagina is the very worst. But they’re not misogynists.

  6. says

    Is he genuinely suggesting that a statement can’t be both against anti-semitism, and misogynistic in its wording? I think he loses is argument regardless, based on Godwin’s law, alone.

  7. says

    “If I save five orphans that means I get to kick a puppy, so stop complaining about the puppy!” Some people just really want to kick puppies and not feel bad about it, for some reason.

  8. johnthedrunkard says

    ‘Con’ is standard in French as well. Why not call Hitler a ‘prick?’

  9. says

    Why do you think it’s OK to demand everyone else acquiesces to American linguistic norms?

    In the UK, “cunt” isn’t used in a gendered manner. It’s use bears no relation to notions of femininity or masculinity in the way that, say, “bitch” does. It’s used in the same way that ‘dickhead’, ‘arsehole’, ‘prick’ etc. are.

    That’s just a fact, no matter how much you might dislike it.

    Instead of finding British feminists who explain to you that ‘cunt’ isn’t sexist in the UK “infuriating”, why not ponder the idea that they might understand language in the UK better than you do?

    And yes, Gervais is obviously awful and a bigot. But the smug sense of solipsistic righteousness from Americans that their use of language is the one true way is infuriating.

  10. says

    John Gironda, that’s bullshit. I know many women in the UK who do not agree with those glib dismissals of the sexist meaning of “cunt” used as an epithet.

    So no, what you say is not “just a fact.”

  11. says

    “In the UK, “cunt” isn’t used in a gendered manner. It’s use bears no relation to notions of femininity or masculinity in the way…”

    Well. From my Comment #1 to Comment #9 — that didn’t take very long. Sigh.

    “Instead of finding British feminists who explain to you that ‘cunt’ isn’t sexist in the UK “infuriating”, why not ponder the idea that they might understand language in the UK better than you do?”

    Fair warning, John Gironda. Ophelia actually knows and is in regular communication with British feminist women (you know, those humans many of whom actually wield the organ referred to by the C-word), who object to the facile and facetious epithetical use of their genitalia as a slur.

    What have you got?

  12. says

    @John Gironda

    English speakers have numerous words to describe someone horrible and the ones you choose matter. If I find out that a word I considered benign, is actually deeply hurtful (not just provocative or crude, but actually hurtful) to a disadvantaged group, it does me absolutely no harm to choose an alternative.

    For instance, growing up, kids at my school would use the word “spaz” to describe someone acting weirdly. I’ve since learned that it’s derived from the word spastic, which was long used to describe people with cerebral palsy. It’s a derogatory term that is hurtful to a group of people who are less privileged than I am. My arguing that I don’t mean it “that” way, and that the original meaning has been severed from my use of the word is just nonsense. How *I* feel about the word doesn’t matter, and putting my foot down about my rights and what buzz kills everyone is, is just feeding my own ego to avoid, what? Choosing a word that is more inclusive?

    The same is true of gendered insults like this. Yes, there are women who use the term, and there are people who don’t associate women’s bodies with the epithet, but that doesn’t change the fact that in a world where women are treated as less equal than men, many of us find the word a reflection of that misogyny reflected back at us. It makes us feel unwelcome and disparaged. If you value using that word, even if it taints your message with misogyny, then that’s your prerogative, no one can take that away from you. But knowing how it is perceived by many, you can’t feel indignant when people continue to point out that it is still a sexist choice of words. Ignorance may be bliss but willful ignorance just pisses everyone off.

  13. Nancy says

    I hope you’re all happy ruining a millionaire’s fantasy of throttling Hitler with the grim specter of your potential disapproval! This is why we can’t have anything nice on the Internets.

  14. romaimperator says

    I think we should all stop using body parts and their nicknames as insults…except asshole because nobody likes assholes.

  15. jarax44 says

    Kausik/Ophelia, doesn’t there have to be some give with regard to language?

    Being from the same working class, south England background as Ricky, I know this term as a generic slur, along with; knob-head, bell-end, prick, cock, dick, twat and tit.

    Pussy on the other hand is used to call somebody weak or inferior, so is obviously a sexist term, but I can see why there are people who say cunt is not a sexist epithet and I tend to agree. I honestly don’t know who would get to decide! If there was a majority of southern English working class women who agreed I guess.

  16. jarax44 says

    @ Marnie

    There is a difference. Spastic, from the Spastic Society(Now Scope), was used against able-bodied people to insult them by likening them to less able-bodied people and was therefore insulting the less able.

    If I call you a body part as a generic insult it has no meaning! If I reduce you to a body part as a descriptive, that would absolutely be insulting, it seems like the context is everything in this instance as there is nothing offensive about a vagina, in and of itself, but if your boyfriend calls you ‘his cunt’ that would be totally different.

    So isn’t it all about context? I’m totally willing to accept I’m wrong, but I don’t see why in the preceding arguments here. For instance the N-word is offensive because of it’s historical context, as far as I’m aware there is no historical context of oppression of the word cunt.

  17. says

    Ophelia actually knows and is in regular communication with British feminist women (you know, those humans many of whom actually wield the organ referred to by the C-word), who object to the facile and facetious epithetical use of their genitalia as a slur.

    What this sentence actually means is “she’s Twitter buddies with some un-named British feminists”. That’s not much of an argument and doesn’t trump the actual day-to-day reality of how the word is used in the UK, which none of you would be capable of rebutting.

    Words only have meaning with regards to the context of how they’re actually employed. Offence derived through etymology-mining is simply bizarre. “Cunt” is sexist in America because it’s used in a sexist, gendered way. “Cunt” isn’t sexist in the UK because it’s not used in a sexist, gendered way.

    Honestly, I’d love to see one of these college-educated, upper-middle-class Americans go to a Glasgow council estate and start lecturing the men and women there on how problematic their use of the word “cunt” is. Your argument would be met with the bemused contempt it very obviously deserves.

  18. drken says

    Yeah Ricky, somebody probably will. But, when you’re a public figure people will complain about pretty much everything you say. But, you already knew that. In fact, you think it’s innocuous enough to joke about. The only difference is, if you said N****, Audi and your other sponsors would drop you within the hour. Had you then doubled down on it (like you did), you’d probably never get another job. But, you probably already knew that too. It’s easy to be a champion of free speech when the people you’re offending have no power.

  19. aziraphale says

    @John Gironda

    I’m not convinced that “dickhead” or “prick” are non-gendered either. When did you last hear anyone say to a woman “don’t be a dickhead” or “stop doing that, you prick”?

  20. karmacat says

    So the only way he can defend using the c word is by using a reference to Hitler.

  21. tiko says

    @10John Gironda
    I’m British and consider myself a feminist and I totally disagree with you, as do many other British feminists. However I point that out to show that the women of Britain can have differing opinions. I wouldn’t dream of saying it to someone from another country as if I speak for all 35 million women and girls.

  22. tiko says

    @13 Marnie

    So much this.
    The way some people try to justify their use of sexist/racist/ableist language you’d think that they were defending their right to vote.
    Changing your attitude from ‘ those words don’t bother me therefore I will continue to use them’ to ‘those words don’t bother me but they obviously bother other people so I will stop using them’ is not a difficult thing to do.

  23. Fergus Mason says

    @John Gironda

    “Your argument would be met with the bemused contempt it very obviously deserves.”

    No, it would be met with violence. From the women.

    Cunt is, very clearly, an unacceptably gendered insult in the USA. In the UK? No, it’s not. I’m perfectly happy to accept American standards while I’m in the USA, but I do agree that it’s annoying when people try to impose them on speakers of standard English.

  24. Fergus Mason says

    And I should probably point out that the oh-so-dreadfully-sexist UK actually elected a woman to be Prime Minister for THREE consecutive terms. Perhaps Americans should reflect on that for a moment before calling us misogynistic dinosaurs.

  25. Lisa Davies says

    “Is he genuinely suggesting that a statement can’t be both against anti-semitism, and misogynistic in its wording?”

    It could be, just as this article could be anti-sexist and privileged American cultural imperialism.

  26. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    And I should probably point out that the oh-so-dreadfully-sexist UK actually elected a woman to be Prime Minister for THREE consecutive terms. Perhaps Americans should reflect on that for a moment before calling us misogynistic dinosaurs.

    One WHOLE WOMAN?!?!?! For three ENTIRE TERMS?!?!?!? Well clearly we all stand corrected. Nobody in the UK could possibly be a misogynist after THAT.

  27. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    The claim that words like ‘cunt’ or ‘dick’ and their variants aren’t gendered is just patently bullshit. You all know where those words come from. It’s not as if someone has had to extract some dusty old etymology textbook out of a university library to find their origins. It’s common knowledge as evidenced by the fact that we actually still use them to refer to people’s genitals.

    Contrast it with words like ‘idiot’ or ‘moron.’ Both have roots as actual medical diagnoses but, in my experience, it’s not common knowledge. You could actually make something of an argument that the modern usage of those words is far enough removed from their original meaning to render them (mostly) harmless because nobody actually uses them that way anymore.

  28. Fergus Mason says

    “Nobody in the UK could possibly be a misogynist after THAT.”

    There are plenty misogynists in the UK. However the way to identify them is not by looking for people who say “cock,” “twat,” “cunt” or “bellend”.

  29. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    There are plenty misogynists in the UK. However the way to identify them is not by looking for people who say “cock,” “twat,” “cunt” or “bellend”.

    And you’re the arbiter of the correct way to identify misogynists because…?

  30. Fergus Mason says

    “And you’re the arbiter of the correct way to identify misogynists because…?”

    Oh grow up.

    When Brits say “twat” or “prick” they do not mean it as a gendered insult. It’s just an insult. Want to spot a misogynist? I’d look for the people who deny women actual rights. That works. However if you go hunting for people who say “cunt” you’re going to end up calling a lot of women sexist.

  31. Question mark says

    First off, I should stress that Gervais’ reactions so far have been very insensitive, and I agree that using words commonly associated with female body parts as an insult is undesirable. But let’s look at the whole picture here. It’s a simple fact that the US meaning and the UK meaning of “cunt” when applied to a person are notably different. One is a highly offensive misogynist slur, while the other is used synonymously with jerk/dick/asshole (and usually applied to men). The reasoning (originally, at least) behind using names of certain body parts to refer to rude, mean, obnoxious or otherwise awful people is that them showcasing their objectionable behavior in public was seen as similarly obscene and shameful as baring these body parts in public. So it’s not any supposed female trait from which the negative connotation of the UK meaning of “cunt” derives, but rather from its “privateness”. I’d say the word in this meaning is more anti-nudist or sex-negative than sexist. Personally, I’d take greater offense at someone being called a pussy than when a British person calls some guy a cunt, since in the former case a negative trait (cowardice) is falsely being identified as inherently female. British people should be mindful of their use of the word “cunt” when their message is pointed at an international audience, but calling them sexist pigs whenever they use the word in the non-sexist way it’s typically used in their country is unlikely to bring about any positive change.

  32. says

    The message I get from the “England!” defense is that apparently, England is a bastion of barbarism and cluelessness.

  33. says

    I’m also learning that being able to spit out “cunt!” is a very important issue to a great many people in the UK — it must be defended because it is such a hallowed and long-revered part of the language.

  34. theoreticalgrrrl says

    I’ve heard black Americans say that the n-word just means an ignorant person, so white racists are “the real n-words”. I double dare Ricky Gervais to switch cunt with the n-word.

    @Question mark,
    we can only bring about positive change if we lie back and think of England when some guy calls you a cunt?

  35. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Fergus Mason @ 32

    When Brits say “twat” or “prick” they do not mean it as a gendered insult. It’s just an insult.

    I call bullshit. They’re insults derived from the gendered meaning of those words.

    Want to spot a misogynist? I’d look for the people who deny women actual rights. That works.

    Women are denied rights via the perpetuation of misogynistic attitudes of which the use of gendered insults is a part.

    However if you go hunting for people who say “cunt” you’re going to end up calling a lot of women sexist.

    So? Women grow up in the same culture that produces misogynistic men. What’s to stop them from buying in to the same negative attitudes toward their own gender?

  36. Question mark says

    @theoreticalgrrrl
    Since the only options available are apparently throwing a big fit and lying back and doing nothing: so the only way to bring about positive change is to indiscriminately call every speaker of UK English that’s ever used the word “cunt” in a non-gendered way a misogynist?

    Why yes, directing wildly inaccurate accusations at whole populations and shaming people for not being familiar with the American meanings of words is clearly the one true way to a beautiful world of love and peace.

  37. theoreticalgrrrl says

    Question mark?

    Nice straw men. It’s not the American meaning, it’s just the meaning. Indiscriminately shaming women who don’t like being called cunts and accusing them of “throwing big fits” is clearly the one true way to a beautiful world of lurv and piece.

    Do I have to do this all over again?

    This is from Irish journalist Jack Holland:

    “I grew up in Norther Ireland….It was a place where the word ‘cunt’ expressed the worst form of contempt one person could feel for another. If you loathed or despised a person, ‘cunt’ said it all.

    …Nothing was worse than being treated like a ‘cunt’ or nothing so stupid as a ‘stupid cunt’.

    Belfast, Northern Ireland, the city where I grew up, had its own peculiar hatreds. Its secretarian animosities over the years have made it a byword for violence and bloodshed. But there was one thing on which the warring communities of Catholics and Protestants could agree: the contemptible status of cunt.”

    “It took no training in philosophy to decipher the misogyny behind the use of the word ‘cunt.’”

    “Misogyny: The World’s Oldest Prejudice” by Jack Holland

  38. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Since the only options available are apparently throwing a big fit and lying back and doing nothing: so the only way to bring about positive change is to indiscriminately call every speaker of UK English that’s ever used the word “cunt” in a non-gendered way a misogynist?

    Because pointing out the misogynistic roots of a word and criticizing a specific person for his defense of the continued use of that word is totally exactly the same as calling everyone in the UK who thinks they’re using “cunt” in a non-gendered way of being actively misogynist.

    The fact is you know full well the origins of the word and it still retains it’s original meaning. The word is an insult precisely because being/having a vagina is regarded as a bad thing. That’s what insults are. In this case, “cunt” isn’t just any old insult, it’s the insult Gervais wants to deploy against one of the most reprehensible people to have ever existed because everyone knows that being/having a vagina is that bad.

    Why yes, directing wildly inaccurate accusations at whole populations and shaming people for not being familiar with the American meanings of words is clearly the one true way to a beautiful world of love and peace.

    But American women who hear British people tossing “cunt” around like it’s harmless are supposed to not only be familiar with British usage (“We’ve become so desensitized to it that we don’t even think about it anymore so nobody else should either. QED), but completely disregard the connotations it has in their own culture, as well as the oppressive systems those connotations help to uphold, as well as their own feelings about the word based on their experiences of having it deployed against them personally.

  39. sawells says

    I’m also British, and can testify that the idea of “cunt” not having gender implications is laughable, in fact an obvious lie. It’s a rude slang word for the female genitals. Its use as an insult means “as bad as the female genitals”. People should stop lying about this.

    Gervais is an intrusive douchenozzle.

  40. opposablethumbs says

    Another Brit here.
    Anyone claiming that the use of “cunt” as an insult is completely divorced from any reference to human female genitalia is … being disingenuous, to put it politely. Yes, it’s used to insult men (what a surprise) and yes women use it too. So what? It’s an insult predicated on implying that there’s something inherently repulsive or inferior about women’s genitalia. Just like “kike” is predicated on despising jewish people and “nigger” on despising PoC.
    My compatriots insisting on their inalienable right to call people “cunts” because freedomofexpressionreasons can fuck right off.

  41. Question mark says

    @theoreticalgrrrl
    If I shamed you or any other woman for complaining about being called a “cunt”, I deeply apologise. That was definitely not my intention, at all. When any woman is insulted just for owning a vagina, she has every right to feel offended and every right to speak up about it as loudly as she wishes. And I agree that in cases where “cunt” is reserved for the worst of the worst, this difference with other insults can certainly be seen as misogynist. But my point was that there is a variation in use and interpretation of the term (e.g. there are many environments where “cunt” as an insult lacks any misogynist connotations) and ignoring this in favour of condemning the word unequivocally results in discriminating against and patronizing whole swaths of people, merely for growing up in an environment where “cunt” was a common, relatively mild insult.

    @Seven of Mine
    I made those exaggerated statements in reaction to theoreticalgrrrl’s false dilemma. As I said originally (in 34.), the negative connotation of the UK meaning doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the fact that it’s a female body part, but much rather with it being a “private” part, hence why it can be synonymous with insults based on non-female private body parts.

    Let’s not fall into the trap of the false dilemma. Americans or British people aren’t the enemy here, ignorance is the enemy. If we’re all aware and mindful of each other’s feelings and concerns, we can avoid unintentionally offending each other.

  42. theoreticalgrrrl says

    “Lie back and think of England”is a phrase people use, I wasn’t creating a false dilemma, I was being sarcastic. Of course that phrase is in no way gendered either because people say it so often…

    “Ignoring this in favour of condemning the word unequivocally results in discriminating against and patronizing whole swaths of people, merely for growing up in an environment where “cunt” was a common, relatively mild insult.”

    ummmm…you’re kidding, right?

  43. Rocksie says

    Oh my. Its a word. A WORD. If someone says it and offends you explain it to them and move on. If they persist dont engage with them, but dont tell me what i can and cant say. Im a British female and i dont give 2 monkeys either way who says it, i have NEVER seen it as a gendered insult, just an insult in general, as is the same for twat, cock, dick etc. Some people are too sensitive.

  44. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    As I said originally (in 34.), the negative connotation of the UK meaning doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the fact that it’s a female body part, but much rather with it being a “private” part, hence why it can be synonymous with insults based on non-female private body parts.

    a) I don’t believe this based on the testimony of plenty of british people who say that the claim is not only untrue but laughable.

    b) That doesn’t explain why “cunt” is the word that’s getting reserved for deployment at the worst of the worst. “Dick” and “bellend” and whatever are just garden variety insults you lob at anyone you don’t like.

    …ignoring this in favour of condemning the word unequivocally results in discriminating against and patronizing whole swaths of people, merely for growing up in an environment where “cunt” was a common, relatively mild insult.

    Because, clearly, the real problem here is making sure nobody in the UK or Australia is made to feel bad about using a word that helps reinforce the systemic oppression of women. The actual systemic oppression of women pales in comparison to the hurt feefees of people who really really really want to keep saying “cunt,”

  45. iainr says

    #29 “Contrast it with words like ‘idiot’ or ‘moron.’ Both have roots as actual medical diagnoses but, in my experience, it’s not common knowledge.”

    “Idiot” derives from the Greek for ‘private citizen’ which became the Latin for a layman which evolved in later Latin into an uneducated person which by the time it got to more modern English was a really stupid person. It was briefly co-opted as a diagnostic term for certain severe mental disabilities, but that is not the origin.

    “Moron” (from the Greek for ‘dull’) was coined as a psychological diagnosis in the early 20th century.

    /pedant

  46. MadHatter says

    So…since both men and women use the word “bitch” as an insult to both men and women, and as a frequently generic term of irritation then it’s not gendered? That’s the argument I’m seeing here for “cunt” and that is about the stupidest thing I’ve heard today (though the day isn’t over yet). Followed close by the argument that women using it means it is clearly not sexist.

  47. says

    Question mark @ 39

    to indiscriminately call every speaker of UK English that’s ever used the word “cunt” in a non-gendered way a misogynist

    Don’t be RIDICULOUS. The subject here is what Gervais said. He wasn’t using the word “cunt” to, for instance, name the female genitalia in a clinical or neutral or friendly way. He was using it as an epithet to mean the worst kind of person possible. That’s the subject under discussion, not other, possible ways of using the word that are not misogynist.

  48. Diamandahagan says

    I use the word lots but my reasoning is very different from most peoples. As someone with a cunt, I am offended that its considered such an offensive word. I use the word cunt to try and normalise it, so that a word for vagina isnt considered one of the most offensive words in English. I personally find having the word cunt be more offensive than dick or prick to be misogynistic in itself.

    But I know I’m a small minority on this matter.

  49. says

    But when you say you use it what do you mean? You use it as a word for genitalia? That’s cool. Or as an epithet? Not cool.

    I’m not talking about using the word in any way; I’m talking about using it as an epithet. I don’t think it’s possible to use it as an epithet and thus normalize it – normalizing it has to mean not using it as an epithet.

  50. noelhx says

    Hello, first post. I have lurked one various blogs a long time, and this issue, with the words in question changing often, as also who is affected by the offense. I’ve read Rebecca Watson defend the use of words to describe a person’s lack of mental acuity, and read all the responses from people who find that as offensive as the people who find Gervais’ use of the word discussed in this post.

    Are there ANY safe words? When you feel strongly about a person’s behavior to the point where you want to say, ‘You’re a(n) ‘, are there ANY words which will not be found objectionable to SOMEONE?

    I have heard, in regards to one of our fundamental rights here in the US, that the only speech that requires protection is offensive speech. I also hear the phrase, ‘you do not have a right to NOT be offended.’

    I want to be sensitive. I want to be understanding. This has lead me to the position of trying not to to react in anger, or in a knee-jerk fashion. But I still see many prominent bloggers, people I look up to, who I respect and admire, use derogatory terms to describe people who they feel are not good people. Is there a non-offensive way to express this? A lot of the discussion here goes down the etymology hole, and uses the argument that, ‘originally, it’s roots is in the term referring to people with , therefore, any use of the term still reflects that bias.’ So words like originally referred to people with mental issues.

    For instance, the word ‘silly’ has this etymology:
    The word’s considerable sense development moved from “happy” to “blessed” to “pious,” to “innocent” (c.1200), to “harmless,” to “pitiable” (late 13c.), “weak” (c.1300), to “feeble in mind, lacking in reason, foolish” (1570s).
    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=silly
    So, any time we call someone ‘silly’ we are implying they are ‘feeble in mind’, which means you are equating a derogatory term with people that have mental capacity problems.

    I struggle with this, especially as a father of a young girl. I certainly do not use gender-specific insults because of her. I also have bipolar II, so I try not to use terms that indicate a mental issue due to medical conditions are derogatory.

    So, what is ‘safe’? What words are useful to indicate our extreme disapproval of someone’s behavior/position/etc. that do not reflect negatively on an ‘innocent’ 3rd party? How do we navigate this maze of language?

    It seems we continually tackle these one word at a time. Is there an opportunity to crowd-source a list of ‘approved/unapproved insults? Is that an idea that would end up being a flame-war?

    Also, is getting mad at Gervais the equivalent of tilting at windmills? There are words in various English-speaking cultures that have definite negative connotations in one culture that are completely innocuous in other cultures. is the goal to homogenize a given language’s interpretation across all cultures that use a particular language? And who gets to decide? The country with the largest number of speakers? For English, that would be China, no?

    Yeah, I tend to over think these things. Does anyone else?

  51. Jimmy Boy says

    I’m a British male – and it’s a word I stopped using, having understood the context. It’s just not necessary – and given that it’s part of a long history of demeaning women it’s pretty easy to do. Don’t use the N word. Don’t use the C word.

    And definitely don’t tell women who object to the word to get over it. Because that would be crass and a privileged load of wank.

    Pretty simple really.

  52. Jimmy Boy says

    “‘Con’ is standard in French as well”

    It is – and there is a growing movement of French people who object to it on the same basis. Weirdly, of course, in French ‘con’ is the masculine. The feminine form ‘conasse’ (sp?) is also widely considered to be the most offensive word in the French language.

    Gendered insults are gendered insults in any language. It’s always revealing though how a discussion of the use of the word generates howls of straw-man outrage from those who say they won’t be banned from using it.

  53. Jimmy Boy says

    “Oh my. Its a word. A WORD.”

    So’s the N word.

    “i have NEVER seen it as a gendered insult, just an insult in general, ”

    That must definitely mean it isn’t a gendered insult then. A word used to nsult that also refers explicitly to a woman’s vagina. Definitely not a gendered insult, and definitely can’t be one because you’ve not spotted it (from the height of your privileged tower).

    “Some people are too sensitive.”

    I know it’s shit isn’t it. All those gays and blacks should get a grip too, eh?

  54. Jimmy Boy says

    “Why can’t everybody be that reasonable???!”

    If that was to me Ophelia, it took me ages to accept that I should just stop using the word. I loved using it: it has a shock value that I liked; used sparingly it had impact in a way that is rare – particularly with the prim and proper. It also really expressed a level of deep frustration or disgust which is difficult to replicate: ie “what an absolute X that bloke is”. Folks are clear how you feel.

    But the argument against using it was pretty strong, so eventually I just had to accept it. I think it can be hard to give these things up – and the feeling of being banned obviously gets folks backs up. Of course, that’s a great argument for not addressing the underlying issue – as is apparent here on the thread.

  55. Diamandahagan says

    Ophelia, I tend to use it in non-insulting ways(for instance I call a cocktail I invented ‘a lucky cunt’). I do sometimes use it as a term of abuse and I regret it each time, because I don’t want to connect cunts with insults.

    I just really want the word to not be seen as offensive, because cunts aren’t.

  56. playonwords says

    A Brit thanks you. Mind you I’ve always thought Ricky Gervais became famous long after his sell by date.

  57. Jackie the wacky says

    nobody likes assholes.

    Not true. Many people are very fond of assholes and get a great deal of pleasure from them.
    Rimming is a thing.
    Butt sex is a thing.
    The shocker is a thing.

    Still, we all have one and poop comes from them. So, as an insult it seems pretty fair.

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