The casual use of mysogonistic language on MN

(96 Posts)
kim147 Mon 21-Jan-13 11:21:44

Just wondering what people think of it and if MN should do anything about it?

Look at AIBU and the casual use of "bitch" and "cow" to describe other women.
Should MN do anything about it?

TunipTheVegedude Mon 21-Jan-13 11:47:03

You are going to hate me for this and feel free to tell me I'm an arsehole, but please, it's 'misogynistic'. From the Greek mis- meaning hate and gyn- meaning woman.

What do I think.... well, I agree with you, I don't like it, but I think it is really trivial compared to stuff like this. I'd be concerned that putting our energies into 'bitch' and 'cow' on here rather than the much worse stuff that men say about women all over the rest of the goddam web was related to wanting to hold women to a higher standard than men.
Of course if you feel you can fight on both fronts at once then fine, good luck with it smile

AnyFucker Mon 21-Jan-13 11:52:12

I don't like it either, kim, unless it is very clear it is used affectionately between friends. I haven't seen any recent ones though, so not sure of the context you are describing.

Misogyny should be called whenever it is seen. HQ can't delete everything though, and since I have just called someone on another thread an "atrocious cunt" as a joke and was taken as such, I guess relying on the self-moderation that is one of the strengths of MN is still really the answer.

personal attacks however, when reported, are not tolerated and so they shouldn't be

steppemum Mon 21-Jan-13 12:51:06

tunip - just clicked on your link - truly horrifying (and I like Mary Beard so much, and she was so cool about it all - amazing lady)

personally I don't like the bitch/cow stuff, not just because it is misogynistic, but becasue I don't feel the need to swear /use offensive language in RL and so I don't on here. It is the context though that I find more worrying.

And I find the threads about useless men with all that that implies also pretty annoying, more so than the odd word.

kim147 Mon 21-Jan-13 12:52:21

Tunip I always find that word hard to spell. And I'm supposed to be a teacher (who's done Latin)

MN is just one example - there is also the whole internet to worry about.

I am shock at that link Tunip.

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Mon 21-Jan-13 13:31:42

I don't like it either, but I suppose here on MN we do have the option of reporting posts when terms like that are used to attack someone - rather than as a joke in the way AF mentions.

But the abuse that Mary Beard has been receiving is a whole other level. I knew the DM was trying to stir things up after her appearance on QT, but had no idea people were being so nasty. It reminds me of what happened to Kathy Sierra a few years ago - and sadly she ended up being driven offline sad

I agree with tunip - it's stuff like that link that really worries me.

To focus on what women say on MN comes across to me like 'handmaiden-blaming', which I think is too easy to do. Instead of looking at the deeper causes for why it's acceptable to use woman-hating language, we'd be focussing on other women and using them as scapegoats.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 21-Jan-13 13:36:52

I didn't mean to derail that thread - apologies to Kim - and I'm usually sceptical of 'we shouldn't do x because y is more important' arguments. But I do feel like we're in an emergency situation wrt women's right to public expression.

I agree, tunip.

I do think MNHQ have a problem with the way they delete things. At the moment, you could be deleted for saying something quite crudely and obviously rude - like, fuck off, you pillock - or for something disablist or racist. I've not seen anyone deleted for referring to women as 'bitchy' in the way you'd be deleted if you referred to [insert racial group here] as [insert term of abuse here].

But I suppose it is, practically, quite hard to police misogynistic language simply because it's so very embedded. I'd be reporting half my own old posts and I'm sure that's not just me! blush

What's the problem with bitch or cow? Apart from the fact that they are derogatory terms?

The fact that they are derogatory terms.

AnyFucker Mon 21-Jan-13 15:25:02

....that you don't hear being used to describe (heterosexual) men

Yes, sorry (for some reason I misread your post joyful, so mine reads oddly now): the fact they're derogatory terms and gendered (or, at least, not associated with hetereo men).

I think it's horrible to grow up thinking that the way you talk to your mates is 'bitching' just because you're all girls. Of course, girls can be really mean - but so can boys. And if you were to describe a group of men 'bitching', that term would sound slightly out of place - it implies men communicate in a different way, that's less mean and more serious. IMO.

higgle Mon 21-Jan-13 15:29:25

I'm always taken aback by the very judgemental attitudes and abusive language extended to "Other Women". The husband/partner involved with the OW who is the one who has reached trust generally seems to get off far more lightly.

badguider Mon 21-Jan-13 15:30:58

there aren't a lot of gender-neutral sweary and derogatory terms in english.

i guess fucker is about the only one i can think of right now. it is interesting, but i think as it's such an ingrained part of the english language you are unlikely to be able to stop it on mn, considering how hard it is to prevent outright racist and disablist language which far more people baulk at..

Susan2kids Mon 21-Jan-13 15:33:50

No but the word dick and cock is used all the time for the same reasons....with the addition that women are also called by the masculine 'names' AnyFucker.... you seem very keen to invent bias where there is none. What would you like NO GENDER based insults at all. Or are you just in fact one of those women who has little to do rather than insisting that any use of the words like 'cunt' is terribly offensive to women...because you've run out of legitimate complaints because the language of insult is fairly gender equal and very little to do with misogyny? Oh and plenty of men get called for bitching about things.......

higgle - that is so true. MN really opened my eyes to that one.

bad - it's so odd, isn't it? But I don't think that it actually goes back so very far in the language. A lot of our swearing that's second nature would have been unthinkable for our grandmothers or great-grandmothers, wouldn't it? And words like 'slag' may have existed for a long time, but their current meaning is quite recent, I think?

Oh, Susan. Bless you.

<gets popcorn>

ChilliChips Mon 21-Jan-13 15:41:55

LRD, before you get too far down the popcorn, I really would like an informed response to what (I think) Susan's point is, because it's something that I've genuinely wondered about. What is the difference between calling a woman a bitch and calling a man a bastard/dick/arsehole/other male-gendered insult?

Susan2kids Mon 21-Jan-13 15:46:54

That's entirely my point Chilli.....There is no difference other than admitting it to be true would relieve a whole load of keyboard feminists who would embarass Germaine Greer with nothing to cry about. There are legitimate complaints and then there's complaints like this which if anything damage the quest for equality rather than help it.... You can tell its a valid point because LDR's attitude was to try and pretend she didn't need to answer and that it was automatically laughable.

AbigailAdams Mon 21-Jan-13 15:48:51

Power dynamic, ChilliChips. Men oppress women, not the other way round. One of the ways that men oppress women is using parts of our body as really derogatory insults for other people. Apart from the fact that dick and cock are considered in no way as offensive as bitch or cunt.

And yes Susan I would like no gender based insults at all.

"plenty of men get called for bitching about things....... " only when they are viewed as doing something that really only women <allegedly> do. So it is in fact a double insult - oh look he is "gossiping" and being like a woman. As we know there is nothing worse for a man than to be like a woman.

Oh, sorry!

I did actually think Susan was taking the piss ... I've done advanced search and I was thinking of a different S-named poster. blush One who knows AF.

Anyway ... I think gendered insults are not a great thing, not matter which gender they apply to. It is a real problem IMO that it's so easy to reach for a phrase like 'oh, he's such a dick' or 'she's such a bitch', because these are gendered phrases that suggest the people in question are being nasty in a way that's intrinsic to their gender. It's also quite hard to find alternatives. But then, when my dad was growing up people had a rich and varied vocabulary of offensive terms for non-white people, and we've moved beyond that.

That's my main point. But secondary to that - yes, I do think there's a difference between using a gendered derogatory term for a man, and using it for a woman. Ideally you don't use either. But I think women are more discriminated against than men, so to make the playing field equal, we have to be more careful with insults against women than men. I think it's a bit like the way that I'd think of race relations in 1940s London between the Irish and the English. Someone Irish is discriminated against just by virtue of being Irish. Someone English isn't. If the Irish guy has had a day of seeing signs saying 'no Irish' on doors, and someone then swears at him for being a 'paddy', IMO that is nastier than if someone English, who has no problems renting a room, gets sworn at by the Irish guy.

Does that make any sense? I do see where you're coming from, I just think there has to be acknowledgement some people are more discriminated against than others, so the extra bit of discrimination can be the straw that broke the camel's back.

DameMargotFountain Mon 21-Jan-13 15:53:36

i read a really interesting debate on the 'net a while back about how most swearwords are aimed at a slur on women

call someone a bastard and it's all about the parentage - an unmarried mother

cunt - well obvs

twat - again, a cunt

prick - well, yes you can have that one

motherfucker - obvs

bitch - female animal

slut - woman

slag - woman

and so on

asshole is probably my choice of phrase now, but will use cunt in the (probably vain) hope that common usage will help to disarm the shock factor

ChilliChips Mon 21-Jan-13 15:55:34

Thanks to all. I'm on a type-and-run here but will read through and have more of a think about it later. I've never seen the arguments set out before.

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