Thursday, January 13, 2011

What is a pejorative and who gets to decide?

I find the entire pejorative thing such a total load of crap except in the case of words that are clearly a pejorative. The problem I have with all this pejorative crap is sometimes it is or it isn't depending upon who uses the particular word.  Bear with me a bit please and please do excuse all the offensive language but it just sort of is.

pe·jor·a·tive (pĭ-jôrˈə-tĭv, -jŏrˈ-, pĕjˈə-rāˌtĭv, pēˈjə-)
adjective
  1. Tending to make or become worse.
  2. Disparaging; belittling.
noun
A disparaging or belittling word or expression.

This is a pretty clear and reasonable description of what a pejorative is. Lets look at some of our more infamous pejoratives so please excuse the language again.

nigger -- A disgusting and vile word and I hate it. The most demeaning and pathetic thing one can call a friend of color yet it is OK for a person of color to use it when talking with another person of color.  So sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't based on who uses it.

cunt -- Derogatory term for a woman. Considered by many to be the most offensive word in the English language. Enough said about it and there is no use approved so it is a 100% pejorative.

prick -- Well it can be a pejorative as in "you are a prick" or slang for the male penis. For a clearer and better description try here. Again not always a pejorative but strictly based on usage.

pussy -- One of my favorites. What I wanted more than anything including my life or a weakling or cowardly person, or slang for a cat but I think pussycat is better but who I am to judge. Not a great pejorative but I guess it is if you are a cowardly pussy.

fag -- A classic if ever there was one. I am sure GLAAD has it near top of list but I could be wrong.  Never can forget my first business trip to London and this gorgeous man turns to another equally gorgeous man in the elevator and said.  "Can I have a fag?" My bottom jaw dropped to the floor and a friend says oh he wants a cigarette and well I was confused. Turns out it depends were you are in the world on that one.

faggot -- Enough said and I am not sure there is any nice way to use the word and it isn't a special cigarette.

troll -- what you say girl?  Troll is not a pejorative.  It is in certain circles where being called a troll means cruising for men in a derogatory manner. Of course it also is a mythical creature if capitalized or someone that cruises the Internet pissing people off.

There are so many other words it would take months to discuss them but now we get to my point.  In most cases a pejorative is almost exclusively how a word is used and is rarely the word itself.

asshole -- is a great word. We hopefully all have one and that is good but saying "you are an asshole" makes it a pejorative phrase which gets to my next point.

The term pejorative is essentially inaccurate except in limited cases.  It should be called a pejorative phrase which is what 99% of all pejoratives really are which is again pejorative phrases or collections of words that are derogatory.

The first word I need to discuss is a favorite of mine and it is tranny.  It is a lot like the n-word in many ways. The first time I ever heard the word was from the "icon" of all transsexuals Christine Jorgensen. We corresponded for several years after we initially met when I was 14 and she always warned me not to get into the tranny culture that was beginning to come about and often when I visited Harry in NYC until Kevin died the other people like me used the term tranny and it was never used as a pejorative or thought to be such at least not in my mind early on.

When I arrived in NYC in late summer of 1969 full of piss and vinegar and ready to get it over with we all called each other trannies in an affectionate way.  Transsexual seemed to be too long a word to use and kids create slang for everything and it was how the word came about. I mentioned I had this friend that didn't blend in well which is the term I like better than pass but she was a good friend and the first time I heard it used as a pejorative was when someone screamed 'look at the fucking tranny" and pointed at my friend. Now that is a pejorative phrase and very derogatory and put her in tears.

We never stopped using tranny amongst ourselves because it was what it was as a word. It was both a word of kinship but also could be used in a pejorative phrase.  It really is difficult to use it alone and consider it a pejorative. Tranny? Well back then if someone asked in a particular club you might answer yes or "fuck off" both of which worked usually depending on whether he and it was always a he was pegged as a cute tranny chaser or the scum of the earth tranny chaser and they both existed.

I just want to know who decided the word itself is a pejorative.  Simple question here.  Was it GLAAD which should stay the fuck out of transsexual issues or was it the GLBT crowd. In general I do not have issues with someone that identifies as transgender because more often than not in the conversation transsexual comes up and after all it has taken over or better yet attempted to totally subsume transsexual under the T part of GLBT. Pretty much a joke in my mind but heck I stopped being transsexual 40 years ago.

I get this sick feeling and usually I am correct about this that the T part of GLBT does not like tranny because quite emphatically tranny immediately is recognized as slang for transsexual and not ever for Transgender. Those bad trannies are at it again must be the mindset which baffles me because Transgender is an umbrella term and transsexuals have every right to self-identify as transsexual but that isn't quite true is it. They are a minority thankfully but I get this sneaking feeling some of these loons wish they could get rid of the term transsexual. I am OK with transsexed or however they spell it but am kind of partial to transsexual.

I can actually understand some of the issues with the term tranny and if the person using it is not transsexual then it is more than likely it is derogatory or a tranny chaser is on the prowl.  The new one that totally baffles me is I just heard from our dear savior Autumn Sandeen that "transvestite" is now a pejorative because GLAAD says it is.  Well up yours and no thanks GLAAD.  What a pompous bunch of assholes.  Transvestite is a pejorative?  What the heck is next? Transsexual is a pejorative!! Oops, better not give these duplicitous assholes any ideas. Since when do those fools represent anyone in the trans community anyways?

A transvestite is a fetishistic cross-dresser who gets sexual arousal from women's clothing.  Who cares if he does?  Certainly not me although I draw the line at marrying one.  Accidentally been there and done that. Transvestite is a medical term that has been in use since around 1910 when transvestism was coined by Hirshfield. A cross-dresser is someone that emulates women but does not find it sexually stimulating which is good to know because there is a difference between a cross-dresser and a transvestite and I am sure true cross-dressers like that differentiation. Guess what you are screwed like the transsexuals now.

The baffling thing is what freaking moron had this pea-brained idea and who gives them the right? I guess we could call those that are transvestites men wearing dresses that get their jollies and love to jack-off in dresses but that is offensive even to me and I am not easily offended so transvestite it is and not cross-dresser which if used for both hurts the cross-dresser.  Wait a second here isn't that discrimination against cross-dressers?

I was reading Sandeen's rant against Ashley Love and that was where I learned about transvestite and it sank in.  Well I might have heard it before but I tend to just filter the nutty things out or at least try to anyways. I also learned about these new pronouns and I am sorry but I get confused with he and she and I am not dealing with ze, zi, and god knows what else.

It is an amazing world we live in today. Certain people just seem to think they can decide what is or isn't a pejorative and rumor is Sandeen had something to do with this but that could be incorrect.

I just had a great thought.  Can we all decide "transgender" is a pejorative and just go back to transsexual, transvestite, cross-dresser, and gender variant and actually identify what the heck we really are??? Sure makes things easier.  I hate guessing if Jane is a queen, tranny, transvestite, cross-dresser, or just part girl for a day but I guess if a fat hairy man wants to wear a dress and parade down the street I am misgendering her by saying him. So confusing.

4 comments:

Elizabeth said...

OMG Liz....do you know how much I love you for posting this because you show the silly of it in such a direct way without sounding like you are on a rampage. I believe although it is tough to put myself in the same category as a fat hairy man in a dress....I can honestly see how confusing it would be to the outside "straight" (for lack of a better word) world to know the differences. Labels suck regardless. I think you can call anyone anything in the wrong way to make it offensive. Someone could call me a girl in sarcastic way and I will get mad. It is all about tone and context. I would much rather someone call me transgender trying to be respectful than call me a "sex change" or "she male". Those things cant ever be said nicely.

Natasha said...

I was also unaware that transvestite was a pejorative. I suppose that means we'll have to burn all copies of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

But most of the words you use as examples have become pejoratives because people used them in a negative context enough that there was no mistaking the intention of the usage. In education, we still use the word "Retarded" to describe the condition of certain special needs kids because it is accurate and technical. We are not demeaning the children, we are using the best possible term. But the word is also used by some inappropriately and so we are forced to keep it hidden in our private documents or code it in discussion.

If the public is told enough that words are off-limits, eventually they start to use them in a way that those who decided they were off-limits in the first place felt they were (if you tell someone that calling someone a is hurtful, they will use that word in a hurtful way. If you never tell them, they'll never know).

xoxo

Elizabeth said...

@Natasha

what a breath of fresh air. I try to tell everyone that the only way you can give words power to hurt people is if you give them power to hurt people. I write about this all the time over the word "tranny" and the title of my blog.

If people would just stop getting bent out of shape over these words, then they would not hear them as much and they wouldn't have the power to be negative. You don't have to conform to these words...just let them bounce off of you. As t-girls we really should be good at that. I know I am.

RobinHood70 said...

You've missed a few different meanings of the word "faggot", especially as used in the UK. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faggot_(slang)#Use_in_Britain

...or for uses you've probably never even imagined, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faggot