A few days in the low countries

This discussion gets more and more peculiar and interesting as it goes on. There is a whiff of disingenuousness about much of it – a peculiar air of outraged innocence about something that many people take to be a very overt insult. The thing that’s peculiar about that is that usually when we are told we have accidentally said something insulting – we blush and stammer and hasten to explain that we didn’t mean it that way. We don’t insist on going on using the word in the way we (but not other people) understand it. Yet this apparently doesn’t apply to epithets about women. That’s interesting.

Suppose you know a little Dutch, and you’re in Haarlem visiting friends, and you pick up a word that you take to mean something like ‘chump’ or ‘buffoon’ and you start to use it yourself. Then a friend takes you aside and gently informs you that actually the word is a vulgar racial epithet and you have horrified several very nice people by flinging it around so breezily. Would you argue? Would you say ‘well it can also just mean “buffoon” and I don’t know why you’re making such a fuss.’ Maybe you would, but I doubt it. I think the usual impulse (except among deliberately obnoxious people, the Fred Phelpses of the world) is to err on the side of caution when it comes to words that can easily be taken amiss. But when it comes to epithets for women…it appears that lots of people are quite happy to just go right on cunting and twatting away.

It’s almost as if hostility to women is okay. Hostility to other races and other nationalities* not okay, but hostility to women kind of hip. Would never call someone nigger or spic or wog, but call people cunts and twats without a second thought.

If it’s true that there’s a different standard, why would that be, do you suppose?

*Except perhaps American…

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