i just saw someone completely seriously, without a hint of irony, refer to it as “Q-slur Eye” and my intestines started melting like so many Salvador Dalí clocks

I’ve seen “don’t call the show Qu**r Eye if you’re a cishet and can’t reclaim the q-slur” so nothing surprises me anymore.

“Don’t normalize this word that people fought really hard to normalize! Let it keep its oppressive power because I don’t understand queer history”

God I literally fucking hate this rhetoric. It’s exclusionary, gatekeepy, TERFy, and supports a totally revisionist queer history that erases so many marginalized people, especially people who are marginalized on multiple axes.

The only way to make slurs (for example, “queer”) less harmful is to normalize them.

The example everyone always mentions is that “bitch” has a lot less punch than “cunt” because it is said way more often. ( What would hurt you more, being called a bitch or a cunt? ) The only reason people use “cunt” when they need a stronger word is because people use it less often, which is the reason it even has the hard-hitting punch in the first place. 

If everyone started using “cunt” as often as “bitch”, it would not hurt as much anymore when you someone says it to you. It would not hold the same power and strength that it currently does. 

This is why normalizing “queer” is better than making people stop using it. The more we stop saying it, the more power it will hold. The stronger the ‘slur’ becomes. It becomes a weapon, again.

I’m not saying you have to be okay with the word. But you have to understand why making certain words “off-limits” or “a slur that we should not say” in order to remove their oppressive power is COMPLETELY backwards. It’s exactly the other way around. You are just making them even more powerful by doing that.


It’s also worth pointing out that word politeness is regional. In many parts of Australia (although not usually the major cities), cunt is friendlier than bitch; queer is a perfectly normal word and gay is an insult. People on Tumblr are from everywhere, and it’s the height of arrogance to assume that the entire world should conform to your regional linguistic standards without bothering to take any notice of theirs.

as i understand it, in scotland ‘cunt’ is pretty casual and not gender-linked; you’d laugh at your best friend and go “bobby you dumb cunt” if he tried to do a trick and spilled beer on himself, but if you call your mom a bitch you’re kicked out of the house. scots tumblr correct me if i’m wrong, but that’s the impression i get.

whereas in america, at least in urban areas, it’s the precise opposite. ‘bitch’ is casual and not very gender-linked; you can be like “what is up my good bitch” at a guy and it’s just sassy not hostile, but if you call someone a cunt you better hope you can afford dental surgery because you’ll be picking up your teeth in a minute.

conclusion: there are subcultures where ‘queer’ is very hostile and terrible, and people can’t bear to even type it, lest it come to their house and turn them into zombies. but i’ve worked hard since the 80′s to reclaim it, and if you come at me with ‘q slur’ and asterisks, i am putting a blanket over your cage and turning up my headphones, cuz it’s your naptime and i don’t wanna hear it.

regional language is weird. i get really distressed by the c word unless the person saying it has an australian or scottish accent. then it’s fine, because my brain figures it’s normal and safe. anyone else saying it is Dangerous and Terrifying.

people in the comments and tags going “oh sure let’s normalize the N word while we’re at it” are not understanding history or listening to us. black people have chosen NOT to normalize the N word. there has not been an artistic and social movement to make it a mainstream term. there has not been an academic push to use it as an inclusive category. black people have damn near unanimously said “that is not an ok word for you to use when talking to or about me.” it doesn’t fill a niche, it doesn’t do a job no other word is doing as well as it can. it’s just a nasty word.

that makes it the opposite of the situation with ‘queer’. instead of telling straight people “we can use it but you can’t, because from you it’s derogatory,” we’ve spent the past several decades telling them, “this word is no longer an attack because we have declared it a term of inclusion. you can no longer attack us with it because it’s not a weapon anymore.”

equating the two situations is something you do when you’re thinking of at least one of these two groups as an unknowable Other for whom you need to invent rules from first principles. you don’t. we’ve told you what we want. just do that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s