Originally a comment by SallyStrange on “The rules”.
Funny, I was having a conversation on FB yesterday along these lines. Nice guy, uneducated about feminism and the ins and outs of dehumanizing language. People were explaining why it’s not okay to use “female” as a noun to refer to women.
“So are you saying that I’m not ALLOWED to do that?” He’d respond. Or, “I see, so, saying cunt isn’t permitted because it doesn’t fit with civil discourse.”
No, people would say, you’re ALLOWED to do whatever you want. It’s just that this kind of language is inadvisable for the following reasons. And again he’d fall back on the allowed/permitted/forbidden paradigm.
I think I actually ran into an authoritarian who’s well-intentioned AND introspective self-aware. Kind of a novelty.
I ended up explaining to him that nobody has the power to enforce anything here. If he disregards us, the only thing that will happen is that some people will feel upset or angry and might express that. And others–namely misogynists–might feel vindicated. His framing made it seem as if he only refrains from dehumanizing women because there are rules about it and he follows rules. But that isn’t how morality works, or, at least, it isn’t how it ought to work, in my opinion. Saying, “These are THE RULES” removes the need to take responsibility for making your own moral choices. So, I said as much, and now he’s mulling it over.