Attention Whore?

Vorjack stirred up some unintentional controversy when he used the phrase “attention whore” in a post. Some readers were offended. I had never heard of anyone being offended by it (except my mom, who is offended by everything), but I’m not always in the know on those things.

So, dear readers, are you offended by the phrase?

Update:

The final results are in!

No – 375 votes (94%)
Yes – 25 votes (6%)

The poll closed at 400 votes.

  • yahweh

    No sir.

  • http://www.twitter.com/GreetingsADM Greetings

    Not if it is written: “attention whores of Babylon.”

  • UrsaMinor

    No.

    The poll results should be fascinating, whichever way they turn out.

  • Peter Cross

    Some readers were offended.

    Those must have been concern trolls.

    • Skippy

      No, they aren’t concern trolls…just offended readers with strident arguments.

      • Elliott

        SOOO SHRILLL!

  • http://edman.tumblr.com Edman

    I’ve only recently started thinking about my usage of gendered language, especially insults, and it’s an area which I think most of us white, hetero guys are severely privileged.

    So yes, it’s been brought to my attention that the term “attention whore” is a gendered insult, and after careful consideration, I agree. Personally, I think Ruthie hit the nail on the head in the last thread several times. Well done, madame.

    • wazza

      is it really gendered? I’m a whore (though not by profession, obviously, or I’d have more money).

      I’d argue the sexism lies in the immediate assumption that a whore is female, not in the use of the term “whore” itself.

      • Yabo

        I think that’s where it gets gendered. Men referred to women with more than 1 partner, whores. It’s automatically assigned as a female.

      • http://edman.tumblr.com Edman

        Yep, it’s gendered. Dictionary.com defines it as “a woman who engages in promiscuous sexual intercourse, usually for money; prostitute; harlot; strumpet.” Furthermore, other dictionaries use the female pronoun in their example sentences.

        Also, consider the common usage. The usage is nearly always a slur towards women.
        If that’s not gendered language, then there is no such thing.

        • Peter Cross

          I guess “Rent Boy” is also gendered.

          • http://edman.tumblr.com Edman

            A brilliant conclusion, sir.

          • wazza

            but “Attention rent boy” is clumsy…

            (I was going to say that it also sounds like a command, but that’s true of both phrases)

            • Kodie

              In the scheme of being a sex worker = insult, there are so few male equivalents to insults or terms used on females exclusively, but I guess “rent boy” may be one of them. Look how easy it is to say, it just doesn’t roll off the tongue! You both miss the point completely, and point out how infrequently a male-specific epithet fits into the gender-neutral language as an insult, and for vague preferences.

            • wazza

              but I think that “whore” and “slut” are on their way to being gender-neutral, and that’s something we should encourage, rather than trying to suppress the words because they used to be exclusively gendered.

            • Kodie

              Even if they are gender-neutral to mean “someone who has a lot of sex with different partners,” it’s still gendered (in my perception) because if you call a man a “whore” or a “slut,” he is not inclined to feel ashamed with the assessment, and would probably agree. Most women are not called “whore” or “slut” except to shame them. While they may not be themselves ashamed, the intent is still there to judge them for being promiscuous. When my mother called me a slut when I got pregnant at the age of 26… when my last boyfriend called me “poor like a whore” … ? Do you think men are called these names in anything but jest, or are feeling anything less than proud?

            • Elemenope

              Do you think men are called these names in anything but jest, or are feeling anything less than proud?

              Yes, actually. When women I know call men in their lives “man-whores”, they are not doing so approvingly. Whether men are then proud of the appellation is a more complicated issue.

            • Kodie

              While I still would not use those words, as it is hardly my business, I didn’t really know how this word was used against men. Perhaps it is just turnabout, that if women are made to feel bad, so should men, or also that some women are also in the business of slut-shaming in general, men or women. That’s also complicated, as not only don’t many women mind the term (because minding the term is a “weakness” and we have to be cool and absorbent), they are inclined to judge other women, as they’d been slut-shamed themselves into more “pure” behavior and feel self-righteous about it all.

        • wazza

          but I’ve always seen it *used* for both genders, particularly in the construction “attention whore”. It’s the assumption that a woman who’s sleeping with more than one person is worse than a man in the same position that we have to attack (preferably by removing the taboo on such behaviour for women).

          Language changes, and eventually the dictionaries catch up.

          • http://edman.tumblr.com Edman

            See, here’s the thing: I wouldn’t have seen the problem with the term until it was brought up by a women, calling it out for what it is – a gendered insult. That’s what happens when you have privilege; you don’t see how it is really used, because you are never on the receiving end of it.

            Now that I’ve (by proxy) been corrected, I think about it, learn from it, and change my behavior. Simple as that.

            • http://edman.tumblr.com Edman

              *woman

              Damn these hands!

            • wazza

              except when it’s been used by several friends with reference to me… entirely fairly, I must say. So I do see how it’s used, and it’s used for men as easily as for women.

        • Daniel Florien

          Yes but dictionaries also define it as a male sex worker. So if we’re using that as the basis, then it is not gendered. Plus dictionaries only reflect past usage, which changes.

          Attention whore is not gendered IMO (has it ever been used just for women? no.), I’ve never thought of it that way, and no one uses it that way.

          To me they’re all just words though, so I could say plelemin and mean the same thing and people won’t be offended, so maybe I’ll just do that instead.

          Edman, you’re such a plelemin. :)

          • http://edman.tumblr.com Edman

            C’mon Dan, to say “they’re all just words to me” is so easy when you aren’t the primary subject of such words. Women are typically on the receiving end of slurs such as “whore”.

            That’s male privilege, bud. We just got collectively called on it. Either we can say sorry and learn from it, or we can be obstinate.

            And personally, I love being a plelemin. But don’t get me started on those plurbanooses.

            • wazza

              as noted above, I *have* been the subject of these words. Your argument falls flat because you’re arguing from the point of view that “whore” is inherently gendered without first having shown that.

            • Kodie

              Thank you, Edman.

              Daniel, did you miss some of the idea that it doesn’t just mean sex worker, and how easily words are picked up to insult men come from words to insult women? The easiest way to insult a man is to call him some kind of woman, any type of woman, or a specific horrible type of women (typically exaggerated or hyper-judgmental, in this case regarding how she obtains sex, wants more sex than a lady “ought to,” or sells sex for money).

              There then, you don’t like it when Christians call atheists shrill, or militant, or satanic.

            • Daniel Florien

              So what about “witch”? Can we say witch? If so, why is that different?

              I still don’t see the issue. A whore is a term for someone (man or woman) who sells their bodies for sex. An attention whore is someone who is just trying to get attention, often for money.

              There are also women here who are not offended at the term. I can understand why some people are, but it seems to be a minority of our readers. More Christians are offended by my posts than that.

              Is this really a big deal?

            • UrsaMinor

              Apparently it is.

              I’ve been in this discussion an observer and commenter (and not a little bit of Devil’s Advocate). I’m a purely passive consumer of the word “whore” in any of its forms or derivatives. I find most uses of it offensive, and this one particular use not.

              As you were, troops! Keep carrying on!

            • http://edman.tumblr.com Edman

              I don’t think it’s an end-of-the-world kind of big deal, but I think Ruthie hit it on the head when she said that this kind of dismissal of someone’s objection is liable to create a space where a part of your readership, in this case women, feel unwelcome.

              “There are also women here who are not offended at the term.”

              Also, that’s tantamount to saying that you know gay people who don’t mind the term “fag”, or black people who are ok with you saying “nigger”, so you can just drop it whenever you please without consequence, or that anyone who may object does not have a valid reason to do so.

              Just food for thought. :)

            • Kodie

              @ Daniel – Are women a big deal? I mean, when you are talking about Christians being offended by something you’d said, you might understand when you are likewise offended by something they have to say, how important they assume they are, and the illogical arguments they use to dispute rational secular humanism. Exactly the issue is, are Christians persecuted such that they get to complain because atheists are intent on secularizing not just big deal things but every small deal. Making a lot out of a little, Christians taking for granted that they just may be so ignorant about how much privilege they assume. Some of us don’t care so much about every little thing and some of us care a great deal about it. When you think about it, it’s letting the little things by that gives them the idea they can pass the big stuff too.

              So what the F is this poll. To outnumber the people who voiced the opinion that one ought to think harder about their language choices than ignorantly continue to use them, or even use them more to be offensive on purpose, and then defend the right to do so? You have the right to do it, it’s your blog. If you want to learn anything, read the posts. Some people think it matters and a lot of people don’t, but what people are using their words to tell you should be more important than taking a poll. Have you learned anything? Are you capable of making a decision yourself?

              A lot of this does have to do with atheism and how often we have to keep quiet and not upset the “way things just are.” I’m being told this is too pervasive and can’t change, all of us are powerless. That doesn’t sound like a logical argument. I’m told this doesn’t bother a huge number of people, even women. That doesn’t sound like a logical argument. I’m told there aren’t any other words in the whole English language to describe this type of person. If that’s actually true, that makes me sad.

        • Fentwin

          Attention strumpet…….

          • claidheamh mor

            “Impudent strumpet! Impudent strumpet!”

            …. before the feet swing to the north, north-east, east, south-east, south….

        • runty_cactus

          My ex-boyfriend was the biggest whore I’ve ever met.

      • Konrad

        Get back to me when English grows a full set of gender neutral pronouns. Until then gendered language is frequently unavoidable without resorting to extreme grammatical contortions.

        One really cannot achieve it unless he or she is prepared to sound pompous and long winded.

        • wazza

          oh, come on, they can manage it quite easily.

        • Ruthie

          I’m down with the gender-neutral pronouns. The feministsphere has actually already come up with some starting with a “z” (as in “zir shoes”), and I always like to provoke discussion by using the colorful pronoun “zit.”

          That said, extreme grammatical contortions are not necessary usually, people only think there would be. For example, in this case, I think that “attention junkie” would actually have described the Phelps’ desperate and outrageous behavior a lot more accurately than “attention whore,” since the Phelps’ are not exactly waiting in carefully posed glitter lycra on a street corner. That’s just one example.

    • Ruthie

      Thank you, Edman darling. I’d also like to thank my witch-burning Christian family, whom I can thank for honing my need to be insanely clear and specific with my argument-hammer as much as possible. Without them, my femi-rage would have no logic, coherency or direction.

      /waves to mom

  • Mayness

    I suppose I can see why someone would be offended. I myself am not offended. To me, commonly used phrases like that are one single unit, not a collection of words… so I don’t even notice that the “whore” is in there (a word I find mildly offensive) because it’s all one thing to me. I hope that makes sense, I feel like I’m wording it poorly.

    • Kodie

      I find it somewhat alarming that you don’t even notice it’s there.

      • Skippy

        I don’t think it’s alarming in the case of “attention whore”–as people have been saying on the other thread, it’s a term that in itself is not presented as a gendered term (even though it’s quite pejorative).

        • Kodie

          I’m not technically as offended by the term itself as I am for the way terms and epithets used to objectify or categorize or insult all different types of women so easily communicate exactly what you mean and how easily people understand exactly what you mean, and that no other terms exist or arise as successfully. In such a way that they are then so easily ignored. Oh, that word ‘whore’? I didn’t even see it, I didn’t even notice it, I don’t know why anyone thinks it matters at all. And then when it’s brought to people’s attention, they continue to pronounce it “no big deal,” something silly women made up to be mad about for no reason.

          People who claim to love the English language and study it and know what words mean: what language do I speak?

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

            I’m female, and it IS “no big deal”.

            “Attention whore” describes anyone, regardless of gender, that constantly seeks attention.

            • Kodie

              It relies on the fact that we know what is so bad about being a whore.

            • Daniel Florien

              I don’t see it as bad.

            • Elliott

              Yes, which happens to be (primarily) that “whores” debase themselves for ostensibly poor compensation. Whence the composite meaning of the phrase, and the fluency with which it’s applied to either gender.

            • wazza

              you think there’s something bad about being a whore?

              A friend of mine is a sex worker, and it allows her to live comfortably while creating one of the most fascinating d20 campaigns I’ve ever seen, be extremely active politically and read deeply and widely.

            • Kodie

              If you don’t think being a whore is bad then how is it being used in the phrase “attention whore.” If being a whore is fine, then there is nothing wrong with being an attention one-of-those.

            • Daniel Florien

              There’s nothing inherently wrong with being an attention whore, either. That’s just marketing.

            • Kodie

              So the WBC are just marketing their ideas.

            • Daniel Florien

              Exactly. They do it for attention. But they’re marketing a disgusting product.

            • Kodie

              Seriously, we know that these people are complete attention whores.

              Seriously, we know that these people are complete marketers of a disgusting product.

            • wazza

              I think the phrase implies that you’re seeking attention for its own sake, rather than because you have something to impart. That makes it worse than a normal whore, because at least in the latter everyone involved leaves grinning about *something*.

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

    No, and I’m willing to bet that the people who were offended were just whoring for attention.

    I kid, I kid!

    • Ruthie

      …way to keep it classy.

      • Nzo

        … welcome to the internet.

        Last time I checked, this wasn’t “Daniel’s house of Grey Poupon”. It’s a place where innocent phrases like “attention whore” are taken exactly as they are meant to be taken… without the slightest hint of derision towards women.

        No amount of explanation can save any of you from looking like delicate little crotch-fruit snowflakes that can’t differentiate between an offensive word, and a cliched non-gender-specific phrase.

        You’re doing a stellar job of showing everyone why they should walk on eggshells if they want to be around b*tches like you.

        • Nzo

          Ya know, that’s not enough even…

          Every other day or so, some christian tries to censor us from saying things that he/she deems offensive. Even when what we’ve said in no way should offend anyone, ever. What do we do then? Do we molly-coddle them and tip-toe around so we don’t offend anyone?

          “Oh, hey guys, can you not insult christianity by saying that it’s all lies?”
          “Oh, hey guys, can you not insult ignorant women by using an innocent phrase with a not-so-innocent word contained in it?”

          Why would these two be any different? Is it because you’re women? (well, and white-knights obviously)

          I’m actually offended that a human exists that could take offense to the usage of “attention whore”, especially in the context it was used.

          • Kodie

            Try putting women and atheists on the same side and see if you get it.

            • Nzo

              Why don’t you try it? I took the time to place y’all with the arguments-from-emotion christians… seems like a great fit to me.

              Maybe you can shed some light on how your arguments are different.

            • Ruthie

              Nzo, what you have said in the above comments is the first -really- insulting thing I’ve read here. I’m pretty surprised, since you’re a regular and I didn’t get the impression you were this angry in the past. I’m usually a lurker.

              And while, as you may have noticed in your extensive reading of the discussion, we have had relatively civil discussions about the importance of intent and whether or not “attention whore” is a gender neutral term and how insulting it is or isn’t depending on the context, I can -guarantee- that all the context jiu jitsu in the world won’t save “delicate little crotch-fruit snowflakes” and “b*tches” from being sexist and insulting and at the very-very-very least solidly breaking the “No name calling” rule posted below every comment field.

              That kind of reaction is completely out of proportion for even the less-than-civil tone these discussions have created. I am going to respectfully ask that you at least conform to basic civility, as those of us who are your opponents in this debate have done. I have no idea what spawned this kind of vitriol from you for this kind of debate but I hope you talk with someone about it or something.

              I’m also respectfully asking a mod to back me up on this if it comes to that. I don’t think I’m out of line to ask that stuff like what I quoted not be tolerated here, no matter how much you may disagree with my views on the subject at hand.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Mmm… he has a point– your arguments have been entirely emotional, mostly along the lines of “but my FEELINGS are hurt!” Appealing to emotion — as we all have repeatedly pointed out to Christers, is not an effective argument, and yet now you’re doing the exact. same. thing.

              Can you explain, without appealing to emotion, why some words shouldn’t be used?

              I’m asking this honestly, I just need one good, solid, logical reason.

      • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

        Ruthie,

        This is my first exchange with you, and I don’t mean anything bad by this.

        I will say this, and I’ll try to limit my comments to this, even though I do have some strong feelings of disagreement with your position: if you’re not able to approach a topic like this with some humor (especially a comment like mine, that was meant to be completely innocent and obviously in jest), I think that you’re taking it too seriously.

        Although I wasn’t part of the original conversation, I’ve read the bulk of this thread and at least scanned parts of the previous thread. To my eye, it’s fairly obvious that there was never any intent to offend, much less degrade women. The word “whore” has a very specific meaning, and yes, it tends to be engendered due to the fact that most prostitution is between a male “customer” and a female prostitute. But the phrase “attention whore” is obviously disassociated from gender in common use — to the point where in conjunction with “attention,” “whore” essentially loses its dictionary meaning.

        This is simply the normal, natural evolution of language that happens all the time. You seem to be denying this (what seems to be an obvious) fact, which makes it difficult to engage your broader position.

        Further, there’s an entire conversation that could be had around what a communicator intends to say and what the listener interprets the communicator to mean — often, those two things are quite different. In my view, it’s possible for me to use a word like “whore” (or any number of other words) in a very specific context and mean something complete devoid of sexism or degradation. In that same context, it’s possible for someone who hears me use that word and interpret sexism, based on any number of factors, such as his or her cultural, socioeconomic, or linguistic context.

        I’m willing to grant the validity of both individuals — someone can mean one thing, and another person can hear something completely different. Both persons have legitimacy to their perspectives. By contrast, you only seem willing to grant the validity of the latter, insisting that the way you interpret the phrase “attention whore” is the only correct, egalitarian way of viewing the term.

        IMO, and I don’t mean this to insult you, that’s rubbish. If someone used a term that offended you, then explained that they never intended to do so, further explained what they did mean by the term, and you still insist on rejecting all of that — well, IMHO, that’s on you, not them.

        • Ruthie

          Dear brgulker, darling,

          I think you will have noticed in your careful reading of the whole clusterfart that these threads have become that I have displayed several instances of having at least a smidgen of sense of humor, if you have read my admittedly lengthy and wordy posts. Unless your particular brand of humor doesn’t consider references to Gummiberry juice, comics from xckd, inept Joan of Arc/Spiderman/Hulk wordplay, and self-deprecating and self-referencing ownership of feminist stereotypes “humorous.” As a Card Carrying Feminist ™, I have such -trouble- with humor, in concordance with the well known Feminist Stereotypes, with whom I had a lovely conversation just yesterday. A completely unfunny one, of course.

          Perhaps your brand of humor is strictly confined to deliberately calling people something you know would insult them in particular. Or is my tiny little ladybrain misinterpreting that you just called me, Oakley, and Kodie attention whores and then tried to brush it off as “humor”? Humor is just so HARD. Tchah, silly me, not realizing that you calling me an attention whore and then saying “I kid!” is CLEARLY a well-known attempt to engage me in civil and nuanced debate; it’s a hand of friendship, OBVI. I see now that “completely innocent” and “jest” come up as alt tags when I hover over your comment. I was so RASH! My response was COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS and outrageously disproportional.

          Oh me and my sad, humorless feminist existence, that I cannot recognize such a hand of fraternity when it is extended to me. I will surely live out the rest of my days with nary a giggle or titter, as just punishment for my foolish misinterpretation of being called an attention whore IN JEST. Oh woe!

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

            Excellent snark, Ruthie!

  • UrsaMinor

    So how do we view the poll results as they unfold? The only way to get at it seems to be by voting.

    • Peter Cross

      Vote early, vote often.

      • UrsaMinor

        I’m assuming that the polling app programmer was smart enough to log IP addresses to prevent that sort of thing.

        • Daniel Florien

          Yes it is only once per IP. So voting twice does not have an effect. I will post a link to the results though.

          • Peter Cross

            It’s a good thing I’m a system manger with access to oodles of IP addresses.

          • Daniel Florien

            No cheating.

            • Michael

              lulz. I’ll get working on it with my dynamic IP address.

              but srsly, I don’t think anybody would want to game this poll.

            • Skippy

              Let’s bring this one to the attention of Pharyngula…

              I’m just kidding!

  • WarbVIII

    It continues…..enough, now that we know that some here are offended by the use of some terms that have been used(though a list of the most common terms we might use that are offensive would be helpful), either some will self-censor or take more care in the terms they use,or they won’t. I think what got me so worked up was that the argument seemed to come suddenly out of left field,for me anyway..With luck and a little effort this will be gotten over and make the place more friendly to others…or this will be a strange long running fued over a few words and various peoples perceptions of said words, I hope for the first outcome.

  • andyinsdca

    No. Is there a better phrase to use?

    • Skippy

      “Attention-monger”?

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

    I don’t see the problem, it’s just words, and if you’re offended by words, YOU are the one with a problem.

    • yahweh

      ^ This

      • Kodie

        Then I propose we can change it at will to “attention chink” and nobody will mind.

        • Daniel Florien

          Except that makes no sense and uses a racist term almost everyone agrees is offensive. So it’s quite different.

          • Kodie

            You agree it’s offensive, why can’t I say it’s fine? It’s your problem if you are offended by words…. I’m just trying to argue with the argument.

            If words for races or ethnicities blended in and described so easily in what way people are behaving as “very bad,” yes, indeed, you would ALL agree there is a problem with that. However, terms for women are blended in and describe effortlessly quite many things that people just pick up the words and no one is offended – except women. And I guess, not even all women, because of all people, women like to be cool around men and not mind when anyone make up words for them and then turn around and use it for the WBC.

            Still, I don’t know what’s so bad about being a whore exactly that you find it an adequate description for someone seeking attention, as an insult toward them.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Again, I’M A WOMAN, and I don’t find “gendered” insults, you know, “oh, that’s offensive because it’s a gendered insult.”

              The insult isn’t in the words. It’s NEVER in the words. It’s in the INTENT of the speaker, and the PERCEPTION of the listener. And you, as the listener, can completely derail the intent of the speaker, by choosing not to be offended, instead of rising to the bait.

              Now go listen to George Carlin’s “Seven Words”, and remove the stick from your ass, plz.

            • Kodie

              “remove the stick from my ass”?

              Wouldn’t you like to think about what you say instead of relying on catchphrases so much?

              I KNOW you are a woman. Would you be horrified if the language so easily used judgmental words about…. those WBC, they’re being a bunch of Attention WMDKitties! I don’t know, I tried to make the point with “chink” but races are different than genders. So we don’t care about gendered language, but we’re careful about racial language, and care enough not to swing those around so handily.

              You’re so fucklng lazy, it hurts.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              You obviously didn’t comprehend a word I said, there.

              Words are words are words.

              It’s the INTENT BEHIND THE WORDS that matters, and I’m tired of losing perfectly good words to this PC bullshit.

            • Kodie

              Why are you shouting at me?

              I realize “attention whore” really doesn’t mean anything the way vorjack used it, or how most of you have no problem with it. The point – for me – is how desensitized we are to even apply that word to mean that thing in the first place, so that it doesn’t mean anything, without putting any thought or care into it. It’s not just one word, but quite a lot of words, a lot of our language and slang has to do with using words that mean insulting things, and then not hearing them. How do these words sneak in, why are these words the only available words to communicate a “like” person or situation? It’s not just a word, I’m not being offended by this word – I am questioning something larger and more disturbing to me than one phrase.

              I’ve said this before, obviously your words are more important than mine? Obviously your wants are more important than mine? You want to use a word, and I say think about it, I know you don’t want to, but do it and you say shut up. I’m comprehending you, but you make it hard, being uncivil, telling people to get out of society and to remove sticks from their butt. You don’t want to listen or respond to what’s been said, you just want to react, and you want people to do what you order them to do how you think the world ought to look.

              I do not like your attitude at all. Most of the guys and other gals in this conversation have maybe been intense but respectful, even when we don’t agree. You’re taking it to another level. We’re just having a conversation, and you’re the one acting like it’s the end of the world.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              No, I’m simply pointing out how irrational and counterproductive it is to get upset over mere words.

              I have thought about it. In fact, that’s how I came to my position on words — actually thinking about this shit, instead of going straight to the knee-jerk anti-intellectual position of banning or restricting language because someone might be offended.

              Nobody has ever been able to give me a clear, logic-based reason WHY some words are “bad”, and I suspect that there isn’t a single argument against those “bad” words that isn’t based in emotion.

              I don’t understand why you consistently refuse to see the point I’ve repeatedly made. I am, however, beginning to understand why feminist has become a dirty word — “feminists” like you and Ruthie making a stink over something so insignificant as words, when there are REAL problems facing women. Problems like unequal pay for the same (if not more) work than men do. The rape epidemic. Domestic Violence. Poverty. Lack of reproductive health care. (I could go on, but I won’t.)

              In the face of those real and, in some cases, potentially fatal problems, you’re sitting here whining like a toddler about being “insulted” by words? Seriously?

              I, for one, have bigger things to worry about than whether or not I’m using the current crop of “acceptable” words, and I find the trend of using pretty euphemisms disgusting and highly damaging to language and discourse. We’re so worried about “hurting someone’s feelings” anymore, that we’re limiting our language, limiting our expression, and stunting our growth intellectually and linguistically. I believe in calling a spade a spade, not an “implement for digging holes”.

              Of course, if you want to live in an Orwellian dystopia where even thoughts are controlled, keep on whining…

            • Nzo

              WMD, if I could give you a thunderous applause right now, I SO would.

              Good form

            • Kodie

              In the face of those real and, in some cases, potentially fatal problems, you’re sitting here whining like a toddler about being “insulted” by words? Seriously?

              WHERE?

              And if you think I don’t think about all that, you’re really stupid. It’s not either/or.

            • Kodie

              Nzo- how was that good form, it was completely ad hominem. Anyone who would put that pile of shlt together and call it a post hasn’t read any of my posts.

            • Nzo

              And since Oakley mistook a phrase for a word, you, Ruthie, and Edman have been constantly appealing to emotion (or posting meaningless rhetoric like you just did) in an attempt to shame UF into not using a word.

              I’m not sure why my taste in written communication would be brought into the spotlight, but if that’s all there is to your argument…

              I rather enjoyed the wording on most of WMD’s post.

            • Ruthie

              In the face of those real and, in some cases, potentially fatal problems, you’re sitting here whining like a toddler about being “insulted” by words? Seriously?

              I, for one, have bigger things to worry about than whether or not I’m using the current crop of “acceptable” words, and I find the trend of using pretty euphemisms disgusting and highly damaging to language and discourse. We’re so worried about “hurting someone’s feelings” anymore, that we’re limiting our language, limiting our expression, and stunting our growth intellectually and linguistically. I believe in calling a spade a spade, not an “implement for digging holes”.

              Three words: “Relock and reload!”

              RIGHT, duh. We are being -so- unproductive. “Whore” is clearly not insulting -at all-. It couldn’t have any consequences. I mean, it’s not like this whole debate began because some people thought rhetoric and words were partly responsible for the violence that ensued. Language has no consequences!

              Do you hear that Kodie? Women are being raped.

              I bet you didn’t know that. WOMEN ARE BEING RAPED AND WE’RE SITTING HERE CARING ABOUT PEOPLE BEING CALLED WHORES. What is wrong with us? How could we not have noticed all those raped women? Rape and words like “whore” are completely unrelated. We should be out there saving them from the raping!!! Like WMDKitty!

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Actually, rape and words like “whore” ARE unrelated.

              Rape is about power and control… actually, waitasecond… you’re right, it’s ALL about power and control over others, whether through words or actions, which — ironically — is exactly what you’re trying to do here: control the thoughts and words of others.

              Thing is, the only thoughts and words you can control are your own.

            • wazza

              the difference is that being a whore involves behaviour that matches well with that of an attention whore (pushing oneself forward, doing things for inadequate compensation), while similar behaviour can’t be connected at a racial or gender level, so racist or gendered terms wouldn’t be appropriate.

              It’s like calling someone a health food fundamentalist. Does that mean they’re Christian? Probably not. Does that tell people who don’t know them a lot about their behaviour?

            • RJMorgan

              Ever refer to a man as a bastard? How about prick? Ever called a man a son of a bitch? How often to you hear women called these names? When you call a man a bastard you’re putting a negative connotation on a person born out of wedlock (which is many many people in this day and age). Calling someone a prick puts a negative connotation on that male appendage. And son of a bitch is just unduly insulting his mom with a word most women still find insulting.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              What if his mom really is a bitch?

            • Shin

              Whore and women are different words. The word woman is purely gender-based while “whore” is behavior-based.
              Even if the majority of whores were male, it wouldn’t affect the meaning of the phrase “attention whore” at all. So there is no reason women should particularly find it offensive.
              Should Americans (especially white people) find the word “fat” offensive?

          • Ruthie

            But it’s totes not racist anymore, didn’t you hear? I have a Korean friend who voluntarily chose the name “Chinky”! Therefore it -can’t POSSIBLY be racist-!

        • yahweh

          I guess only the chinks would mind. Right? Well if so, I guess the only ones offended by “attention whores” would be…….

          Checkmate.

          • Kodie

            Are you saying it’s ok to use the word “chink” as an insult if you are not Chinese?

            • yahweh

              No I am not saying that at all. Re-reading that now I see that it did not come out right.

            • Kodie

              Are you saying that only Chinese people would be alarmed at an offhand insult used against anyone that included an epithet normally used against them? Like if you called me a “chink” and I would just say, “You’re mistaken, sir, I’m not Chinese,” and not call you on the racist term itself?

            • yahweh

              I actually like the Chinese. They love me long time.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              “Chink” has other definitions as well, all of which were in use prior to the supposed “racial slur”. All of them perfectly valid. Trouble is, you can’t even use “chink” in it’s proper context anymore, because someone’s gonna start whining about it.

              CHINK:

              (n) chink (a narrow opening as e.g. between planks in a wall)
              (n) chink, click, clink (a short light metallic sound)
              (v) tinkle, tink, clink, chink (make or emit a high sound) “tinkling bells”
              (v) chink (fill the chinks of, as with caulking)
              (v) check, chink (make cracks or chinks in) “The heat checked the paint”

              And it’s all because of thin-skinned reactionary assholes who constantly whine about this or that word being “offensive”. Fuck this PC bullshit, I’m entitled to say what I feel and think, regardless of whether or not someone gets their panties in a wad over it. Furthermore, I don’t care — it’s not my fault they can’t handle the real world, where *gasp* people are going to say things that they disagree with or find offensive!

              Anyone that easily offended doesn’t belong in society.

            • Kodie

              You really have an issue with people communicating exactly what it is they do or don’t like about a word, turn around and judge them harshly. If it’s that serious to you that I don’t even belong in society, I haven’t been offended by anyone on this blog today seriously until you started posting, and it’s not because you’re a woman who disagrees with me, it’s that you think you’re the only one allowed to rage about everything in a hostile way and nobody else is allowed to say anything, or they don’t belong in society.

              Are you god or something?

              Seriously, you’re offended by my words and the words of some others to go well over the edge. Your whole issue is to pick and choose which words to be offended by, e.g., mine, but I’m supposed to acknowledge and respect your thoughts and verbal expression. Maybe you don’t belong in society if you’re offended by listening to what some other people think. But I would never actually say that to you or anyone.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Never said I was “offended” by your words, I’m simply approaching this rationally, instead of getting emotional and weepy over OHNOEZ! SUMWUN SED WHORE!

            • Kodie

              Characterizing me as emotional and weepy really isn’t at all approaching this rationally. Try harder.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              And yet you ARE behaving in a manner consistent with my description.

              By being offended and reacting, you are giving other people power over you.

              The trick is to not let it get to you. Someone calls you a whore? Take it as a compliment, the person attempting to put you down obviously feels powerless and is trying to drag you down to their level. By reacting, you give them what they want.

              So, don’t give it to them. Take the insult as a compliment — it’ll derail their little power-play AND drive home the point that you’re not a woman to be fucked with.

              Jesus CHRIST, this is Playground 101, Kodie! Reacting to the bully is EXACTLY what the bully wants! And here you are, playing right into it.

              The only power words have, the only power they will ever have, is the power you, yourself, give them.

            • Kodie

              And yet you ARE behaving in a manner consistent with my description.

              Where?

              Have you read anything or learned anything or are you just having a knee-jerk reaction?

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              You’re not looking at this rationally. Please, just try for a few minutes to approach the issue with logic, and not emotions.

              Your whole argument has been, if I may paraphrase, “WAAAAH! I’m OFFENDED! Make it stop!” How is that not an emotional reaction?

            • Kodie

              Now you’re just being a troll.

          • Ruthie

            Wow, yahweh just called me, Kodie, and Oakley whores. #awesome

            It would make sense that the god of the old testament would pull a move like that, though. He did it a bunch of other times too.

            • yahweh

              Ruthie – I was joking but that was the “point” I was trying to make. It got sidetracked by all the talk about chinks. And again, I do not think you or Kodie or Oakley are whores. It was meant as a joke (probably in poor taste given the discussion).

              Oh yeah, and god of the old testament did a lot more to women than just call them names.

        • Michael

          “Chink” means “Chinese person.” “Whore” means “sex worker” or “person who sells ones own dignity for meager compensation.” Hence not only does “whore” make sense while “chink” does not, “whore” is not a slur on an entire group of people, while “chink” is. Furthermore, while “whore” has a historically gendered meaning, this meaning is being subverted by its inclusion in gender-neutral phrases like this one, while “chink” is still exclusively a racial slur.

          There is literally no comparison.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

            No, a “chink” is a “small crack”. Learn to English, plz.

          • Kodie

            That’s at first, categorizing someone’s means of living, via sex for money, a matter of “dignity.”

            At second, categorizing any woman who enjoys sex or has pre-marital sex or promiscuously, a “whore,” that’s a judgment.

            At third, women get called “whores” ALL THE TIME.

            I don’t know, read up on slut-shaming, and generally how words that mean “women we judge to be bad” are used in ordinary senses, like Ruthie had said, like if you cut a guy off in traffic or wear any revealing clothes, guys and gals will both use the word “whore,” that doesn’t make it right. Really tired of this argument that it literally means “sex worker” and then nobody explaining what’s wrong with that anyway.

            • Elliott

              I think a good experiment to run is to reapply the phrase to a male prostitute and see what shades of meaning survive the reapplication. I think the most salient implications are ones of disregarding one’s own well being in the pursuit of money for sex. It brings to mind drug use, living in squalor, walking the streets, etc.

              Interestingly, a professional sex worker who goes to a building every day where he/she works, charges a living wage for service, and is regularly tested for STDs doesn’t fit my archetype of a “whore.”

            • Kodie

              That might almost be well enough left alone if women weren’t called whores otherwise. Being at a low point in life and selling your body for money for drugs sounds like a pretty bad way to be… I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a prostitute if you want to, or sleeping with a lot of men just because you want to, but I do think there is a problem with women who are victims of the sex trade, who do not even choose to go into that profession by choice, being called “whores,” like it’s their fault.

              But an ordinary woman with an ordinary job may also be called a whore often enough to find it insulting. Are you saying whatever it was I did to be so disgusting that I’m equal to a rock-bottom drug addict with no avenues of income other than to sell my body…. when you call me a whore? Don’t you think that’s a mean thing to call anyone?

              Since we started calling bums “homeless,” I don’t really hear anyone calling anyone a bum anymore unless they consciously have a low opinion of homeless people. So the matter of dignity…

            • Michael

              Really tired of this argument that it literally means “sex worker” and then nobody explaining what’s wrong with that anyway.

              Really tired of you misinterpreting other peoples’ arguments then getting angry at your own misinterpretation.

              My argument was that “whore” has multiple meanings all of which are derogatory but only some of which discriminate based on gender. I never suggested it was not derogatory. vorjack would not have used it if it were not derogatory. He was trying to find a term he thought fit the WBC, and in my opinion he found it.

              On the other hand, your counterexample of “chink” does not apply because it is impossible to interpret it in that context as anything other than a racial slur (no, WMDKitty, you idiot, it is not possible to interpret that as “attention hole in the wall.”).

              What I find most aggravating is that you seem to be most offended by how the word “whore” is used to characterize large groups of women who do not deserve it. You say that “whore” is used to essentially demonize all sexually active women. And yet here vorjack is using it in a legitimate sense that is not doing that at all, and you still attack him for it. It is clear that you object to the word itself, not its implications, and despite being dismayed over how it is commonly used, you will actively resist any attempt to change its meaning. You are working against yourself here.

            • Kodie

              I am not against a word. I have been saying it’s not even one word, it’s lots of words, it’s a whole system of language. What I’ve been hearing is that women aren’t as important as Chinese people, shush your pretty mouth, worry about something important, and it is just that way so let’s just leave it that way – also, that if I don’t accept the way things are, I shouldn’t be allowed in society.

              Women have had many words invented and applied to how they behave or don’t behave, derogatory names for just any way a woman can be. Objectification, infantilization, judgment, and violence in terms directed at women. Is it right to be so desensitized that they don’t mean anything anymore? When these issues all go away, the words and the judgments won’t matter. Who gets to decide these words don’t mean what they used to mean? Why are there so many derogatory words for women in the first place, and why are they so easily transferable to a gender-neutral application?

              I’m just asking people to think, you would act like I was coming to chop off your penises, I mean “fucklng language, how does it work?” First you learn words and what they mean, then you use them to communicate, like you and I are doing, then you might learn how powerful and possibly unintentionally hurtful they could be, that it might imply more than you attempted to say, and then you decide not to use it anymore. Are you against being enlightened about something? Is our vocabulary so limited that there aren’t any other words you could pick up that mean what you mean to say?

              Doesn’t that bother you?

            • Michael

              I am not against a word. I have been saying it’s not even one word, it’s lots of words, it’s a whole system of language.

              But the only way that system of language can be fixed is if the discriminatory meanings of words are removed or replaced, not if the language is censored. As I have said many times, you are explicitly and specifically refusing to accept a change that would actually partially fix this problem.

              What I’ve been hearing is that women aren’t as important as Chinese people, shush your pretty mouth, worry about something important, and it is just that way so let’s just leave it that way – also, that if I don’t accept the way things are, I shouldn’t be allowed in society.

              Maybe you should consider reading what I have actually been typing, instead of imagining that I am persecuting you. Nothing I have said could be construed like this.

              To be honest, you have been far more offensive to me and other posters than anybody has been to you. For example, nobody has repeatedly called you a bigot.

              Women have had many words invented and applied to how they behave or don’t behave, derogatory names for just any way a woman can be. Objectification, infantilization, judgment, and violence in terms directed at women. Is it right to be so desensitized that they don’t mean anything anymore? When these issues all go away, the words and the judgments won’t matter.

              The bolded sentences are contradictory. If we can remove the meanings from words, then as you say, they won’t matter. And it isn’t that we are “becoming desensitized,” we are just recognizing that words have more than one meaning.

              Who gets to decide these words don’t mean what they used to mean?

              The population as a whole decides these things. That is why I have been pointing out that the word “attention whore” is already widely accepted as a gender-neutral term.

              But I’m not trying to argue that “whore” isn’t still often used as a discriminatory word. It just isn’t always used that way, and in this case it clearly is not. It makes more sense to complain to the people actually perpetuating the problem than the people incidentally caught up in it.

              Why are there so many derogatory words for women in the first place, and why are they so easily transferable to a gender-neutral application?

              Because most of the words, such as “bit­ch” and “whore” are labels for common human problems. The problem is that they were specifically used to refer to women when people thought those were problems only women had.

              “Whore” is a good example of this. You have talked about how there is a double-standard with respect to sexual activity, and this word outlines this. It is, in actuality, a term that applies fine to both genders, but it was used to discriminate against women when people thought (or at least claimed) it would only apply to them. Now this seems to be changing.

              I’m just asking people to think, you would act like I was coming to chop off your penises, I mean “fucklng language, how does it work?” First you learn words and what they mean, then you use them to communicate, like you and I are doing, then you might learn how powerful and possibly unintentionally hurtful they could be, that it might imply more than you attempted to say, and then you decide not to use it anymore. Are you against being enlightened about something? Is our vocabulary so limited that there aren’t any other words you could pick up that mean what you mean to say?

              I’m not sure what you are trying to say in this rant. I never suggested people can’t avoid certain words if I want to, I just said that if people don’t, you shouldn’t tell them that they must or think less of them if they don’t. Doing so is forcing them to conform to your arbitrary standard, something they would have to decide to do on their own.

              Doesn’t that bother you?

              Yes.

            • Kodie

              Thank you for giving it some thought.

  • Mike

    There are some things I believe us men have to be very careful expressing opinions on. The use of gender insults seems to fall into that category so I sought the opinion of Mrs Mike who describes herself as a feminist of the French persuasion, and is pretty quick to pick up anything that disses women. Verdict – not offensive in this context.

    • Ruthie

      Could you please ask Mrs Mike if all the commenters’ responses here offend her feminist sensibilities, since -that- is by-and-large what is upsetting the feministphere here?

  • vorjack

    Well, on the plus side, I think this has raised our hit rate.

    I wonder what word I should use next week?

    • Skippy

      I vote for “mellifluous.”

      • trj

        Splendiferous suggestion.

        • Ruthie

          Versimilitude.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

            That’s a perfectly cromulent word.

            • Elemenope

              I have an irrational attachment to “perspicacious”.

            • Len

              That’s discriminating.

    • UrsaMinor

      Well, on the plus side, I think this has raised our hit rate.

      I wonder what word I should use next week?

      Don’t be such a…well, um, you know…

      • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

        win

    • Paper Tiger

      If you want to increase your hit rate, I suggest using the phrase “attention grabbing cunts”.

  • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

    Am I offended? Only if you’re addressing me directly. Haha!

    Otherwise, am I offended? Not really. Should I be offended? Probably.

    Other words/situations that should probably offend me:

    -d*uche canoe (aka a car full of d-bags)
    -the musical zoot suit group, “Cherry Poppin’ Daddies”
    -the fact that Andrew Dice Clay even *had* a career
    -a$$milk
    -when Scots/Welshmen call their buddies a c*nt
    -sugar free/natural peanut butter
    -the expressions, “It’s colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra!” and “Huuuu! That girl’s hotter than a $2 pistol!” plus the toothless, chaw-spittin’ roughnecks that say them
    -Katy Perry’s “I wanna see your pee-cock” song
    -when Americans run around London with fanny packs on and screaming out the name of their East Texas uncle, “Randy”
    -Ally McBeal
    -the Dynamite Hack cover of NWA’s “Boyz in Da Hood”… wait, no that was awesome!
    -when teenaged boys used to call everything that was good, “tight”
    -Michael Jackson
    -calling a vagina a hoo hoo or a va-jay-jay
    -dogs that snack out of the cat box
    -Brittney Spears.. wait, no she actually offends me. I don’t care what that “leave Brittney alone!” dude says.
    -”The Situation” and “Snookie”
    -the “Bed Intruder” song
    -Mr. Hankie, the Christmas Poo

    This list is not comprehensive. I consider myself a 3rd wave feminist.

    • yahweh

      hoo hoo?

    • Skippy

      You know what offends me? The BlackEyed Peas.

      And I totally co-sign on calling a vagina “va-jay-jay.” I just don’t get that.

      • wazza

        I know an ardent feminist who loves using the term. It meets her sense of cynical whimsy perfectly.

      • Elliott

        I saw vajayjay on the cover of Cosmo the other week while standing in line at the drugstore. I was in shock.

        BTW, I just noticed that if you type “Vajayjay” as one word, it looks like an Indian surname.

    • wazza

      I would argue that the existence of a car full of douchebags (of the human variety) is far more offensive than the use of the term.*

      “cunt” as a term of endearment strikes me as an excellent use of the word.

      “tight” is a good thing in many areas, not just the one

      the rest of your list is most likely correct.

      *I’m not sure it’s for gender reasons, but why do we never see “enema” as an insult?

      • Kodie

        “Douche” has been discussed on many feminist blogs… there are some people who don’t like it but many agree that it is the least sexist. Although many who use it are still in mind that it has to do with dirty vaginas, the use of douches (medically/hygienically) is equated with “useless.” Douches are totally useless, and potentially harmful.

        So a lot of feminists at least rationalize that it’s ok to use that word to describe anyone.

        • trj

          Isn’t douche and especially douchebag used exclusively as a pejorative aimed at males? Or am I mistaken?

          • Kodie

            It’s easily another example of a term associated with women (and their dirty vaginas) applied to a man, but I read a lot about it. Some feminists won’t use it on principle, and some have rationalized it as useless and potentially harmful, an inanimate object often associated with dirty vaginas, but that our vaginas are fine and douches have been determined not to be good for vaginas. It’s also fun to say, and I have used it. I used it yesterday, not a douche, the word douche, about myself, which isn’t now an invitation from me to call me a douche unless you have found the relevant article and have something to say about my attitude therein.

            • Ruthie

              That’s a doucherrific reply, Kodie.

            • Elemenope

              Douche is a fun word, and also a really good example of a word that has become, via usage, completely disconnected from its literal meaning. The word, when used as a pejorative, is not intended (nor does it achieve) drawing the audience’s mind to an image of an actual douche (which many people these days wouldn’t even know what it is in the first place).

              Likewise, when people say “attention whore”, how many people are driven instinctively by the phrase to recall an image of a sex worker, of any gender? Or, is the phrase utterly divorced even in its implicative content from the parent word? I suspect it is.

            • Kodie

              The issue for me isn’t that it reminds me of a sex worker, it’s that the pejorative for sex worker, or promiscuous woman, was so readily available and caught on so effortlessly to mean another thing. I think people liked the word douche initially because it’s related to a dirty vagina or that vaginas are just dirty. Also it is fun to say. If a douche is supposed to help a woman clean her vagina (because it’s so icky), I don’t see how a douche is a bad thing, but again, I think it’s just because it’s fun to say. As it turns out, douches are bad for vaginas, so it is an insult as useless and potentially harmful to women’s vaginas/health.

              As has been tried, alternates for a lot of our favorite insults have been cast aside as not fun enough to say, don’t have the right flow or whatever. Ha ha I said ‘flow’. Even if the phrase is divorced from its original malicious intent, it has been applied to a different insult, supposedly gender-neutral. What I’m interested in knowing is not whether you think about sex workers, but about what those words “used to” mean, still mean, women still get called “whores,” like Ruthie had said, and I said, and Oakley I think said or implied, and how they’re really the only words in the English language that mean what else you are trying to communicate about people who want a lot of attention, or anything else you are trying to come up with a word for, and top of mind, an insult to a woman or group of women becomes the usage. They tend to stick because they are or seem apt, and are usually more fun to say than any other word because they were always fun to say.

            • MarcTheEngineer

              Looking at the original meaning of the word I would argue that Douche means useless not because it is associated with a dirty vagina (because really… even if it is dirty it is far from useless) but because as a piece of equipment to wash a vagina a douche is pretty fucking worthless (from what I understand).

              I mean really douche were designed in an age where a woman touching her vagina was considered sin and therefore they didn’t touch it. Hygiene was still important and therefore the douche was created as a way to clean the vagina without having to touch it. The use of the word as a male pejorative almost certainly was driven by the uselessness of the piece of equipment.

              As far as “whore” is concerned… attention whore as a phrase is not only ungendered in its use (there is no hesitation in calling a man an attention whore) but when you look at how the phrase is constructed it even uses the ungendered meaning of whore. Calling someone an attention whore means saying that you believe that they are essentially selling themselves out for attention (and in many cases, selling their bodies)… it is using the literal meaning of whore NOT the gendered “Women who sleep around are whores” meaning (which by the way is no longer gendered. When I was in university I had a couple male friends who were frequently called whores for their sexual promiscuity… )

            • Custador

              The original meaning of “douche” is “shower”. It’s a French word.

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

              Sooo… a d*uche canoe is a boat that floats in a shower, like a rubber duckie. No problem!

              :P

    • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

      Note: These are things that *should* offend me, but…. naw!

      • wazza

        a lot of people wouldn’t pass up such stirling chances to be insulted…

  • Oakley

    @vorjack – LOL.

  • tea

    People take stuff too personal….. You Whore!!!!

  • Nox

    Personally, I’m not offended by anything.

    I do think we should try to be sensitive to people’s feelings, and there were some good points made for how women have to deal with a lot of extra sh*t that even enlightened men don’t ever really have to think about. I don’t think any words should be considered off limits, but I would argue for selective use. The word “whore” is tied into the subjugation of women, the way the word “nigger” is tied into the subjugation of black people (I think the last time I actually used “whore” in a sentence I was talking about Nicolas Cage).

    “Attention whore” is an established phrase with a commonly agreed upon meaning, and that meaning is separate and distinct from “whore”. Separate from the question of whether anyone was offended, the phrase does seem eerily suited to describing the particular scam of the WBC.

    • wazza

      subjugation of women?

      you don’t know many legal prostitutes, do you?

      One might argue that “whore” is closer to “freedman” than “nigger”, if we want to make comparisons between the position of African Americans in the 1860s and women pre-1963

    • elivent

      This. This so much.

  • Mark the Pilgrim

    While I agree that certain words and phrases can have loaded and can be gendered, I don’t think this is an example of it. Whilst I think it would be naive to assume that the word “whore” is not gender loaded and mostly used in a sexist context towards women (yes, I know that some men are sometimes called whores – but women get called it more) when people say the term “attention whore” it has a pretty different meaning from the original “whore”.
    The term “attention whore” is used to refer to anyone who seeks attention in a disingenuous manner. So in that case it has become slightly gender neutral. I mean I’ve heard Tom Cruise referred an attention whore. And I’ve also heard Sarah Palin referred to as one.
    Words and terms evolve. This is just an example of it. We don’t always have to revert to the original meaning of the term. I mean, no one thinks of an Irish person when we call someone a “hooligan”. Why? Because the term has evolved.
    So in short, I don’t have a problem with it -if it is used accurately of course!

    • elivent

      See, I don’t even think it has become “slightly” gender neutral. It is IS gender neutral, because that is what the modifier “attention” has made it in society today. I’m definitely another who sees the phrase as separate from the word “whore” in a standalone context.

      • Mark the Pilgrim

        Yeah I don’t know why I put ‘slightly’. I agree, it is gender neutral.

      • Kodie

        Setting aside everything I’ve said already, I agree the term “attention whore” is gender-neutral. I don’t even think I need to set aside what I’ve already said to get there. What I dislike is the ease at which non-neutral terms to insult women are picked up to most efficiently communicate what is wrong with a person or groups of people.

        What’s a word for this type of thing? I know – “whore”. It fits, let’s run with it.

      • Nox

        We really don’t use “hooligan” enough in modern english.

        “Attention hooligans”?

        Meh, doesn’t quite work.

        • Mark the Pilgrim

          Maybe it’s a British-English thing. But we refer to rioters at soccer football as ‘football hooligans’. Or the student protesters as being ‘student hooligans’.

  • http://malvond.wordpress.com/ Malvond

    I could be alone here, I do not associate that usage of whore with classic prostitution. In fact, when I went to the dictionary I was surprised to see that there wasn’t a more general, recent, non-sexual definition. Maybe some people interpret the term as hyperbole—that this person would be a legitimate whore for attention, but I interpret “whore” in this context differently. To me, “attention whore” just means someone who would simply do about anything and sell his or herself out in general (morals, integrity, relationships, commitments, etc.) for attention. People like Sarah Palin.

  • Confused

    While I recognise being a bloke means that I’m stuck with a load of priveleges, and I do my best to fight through them, whenever someone plays that “yes, but you’re a guy so you’re priveleged, therefore I can ignore your argument” really loud klaxons go off in my head.

    Again, I underline, I do believe that privelege exists, and I believe it must be challenged, and I think it’s hard to challenge it, and hard to know when you’ve got it – but hearing someone say “your opinion is invalid simply because you’re a guy” is pretty sexist too.

    I’ve dug into the idea of gendered speech before, and find it pretty troubling. But it’s not the words themselves that trouble me, it’s the meanings that people put them to. Now I’m not saying “they’re just words”, because words express meanings that are important; but if you just write off a word without challenging the meaning in any way, then new words come up to express the old meaning.

    Here’s an example. I spent my formative years in a pretty liberal, pro-feminist environment, one that casually threw around insults with each other, and one that rejoiced in messing around with gendered language (calling flirty men “tarts” and the like). I have never called a promiscuous women a whore. I’d like to think if I knew someone who referred to a promiscuous woman as a whore, I’d express my disapproval strongly in one way or another. It makes me uncomfortable in films and music when I hear women being referred to as “whores” in a negative and perjorative way. I do use the word however, but only when it is in an ungendered sense. I also strongly believe that promoting it’s use in an ungendered, sex-neutral or even sex-positive way while disparaging it’s use in sex-negative senses is going to be more effective in challenging the really objectionable issue here – the stigmatisation of certain forms of female behaviour – than a blanket ban on the use of the word.

    All words have cultural ties. In college I dated a girl from Nigeria – she was mortified when I referred to her as “coloured” because of the cultural meaning that had for her, and insisted I called her “black”. Where I grew up, “black” was considered offensive (it was local slang for “dirty”, so it was really bad form to call someone of an ethnic minority “black”).

    What’s the conclusion of this meandering post?
    1. Personally, I don’t censor my words on principle, but I am mindful of their meanings and how they can be interpreted.
    2. On the other hand, I try to keep in mind how people take a given meaning. If a term is offensive to someone, I will try to avoid using it around them.
    3. Perhaps most importantly – even if I disagree with you, even if I will carry on using the word “whore” to playfully describe someone selling something or pushing a concept for self-serving reasons or with suggestions of scandal – having this debate is important because it forces me to think about meanings and interpretations; which takes me back to point one.

    But then, I’m a man. Obviously my opinion is entirely motivated by not wanting to change my behaviour in any way. Amirite?

    • Ruthie

      But then, I’m a man. Obviously my opinion is entirely motivated by not wanting to change my behaviour in any way. Amirite?

      Uh, no. That is a response to a non-argument. I (nor, I suspect, Kodie, my fellow Feminist of Arc on this) have never pointed out the gender of the arguer in order to suggest that everything (or -anything-) that he has put forth did not matter or was motivated by selfishness. I did so ONLY to point out that, as a guy:

      a) he/you probably have minimal, if negligible, experience of being called a whore
      —(i) or having your behavior, however irrelevant to acts associated with actual whoring, controlled/punished by being called a whore
      b) me/we, as a woman(en), have several decades of experience of being called a whore(s)
      —(ii) ergo, much more experience with the word and its meanings and uses and implications
      c) thus, our perspectives on the use of the word whore are probably different, and in my opinion, since they result from personal experience of (i), more valid, or at least worth consideration.

      EVEN IF YOU DON’T AGREE with me, for His Noodleyness’ sake, don’t be so rude as to argue that what I’m saying doesn’t matter and should be ignored.

      Frankly, I am getting really pissed off that everyone is acting like I (and Kodie) are accusing them of things I/we are not accusing anyone of. Someone made a mistake. Thought we’d bring it up so it could be addressed in the future. It’s the fact that some people are arguing that we should be basically -ignored- (further enragingly backed up by using pretty gendericious language like “shrill”) that is the real problem.

      So, Confused,

      What if you’d told your girlfriend, “Oh, well in my country ‘colored’ is a disrespectful term and ‘black’ is the less offensive one.” And then proceeded to keep calling her “black,” despite her telling you that it was offensive. And then when she reminded you that it was upsetting to her, saying, “It’s all in your head, anyway; the meanings of the words are different over here, it’s not offensive. So I’m going to keep calling you black.”

      That would mean you don’t respect her or her experiences that are different from yours, and that you are dismissing how she feels about it. And that’s rude and I would hope she’d dump you. I think you’d agree such behavior would merit a dumping?

      THAT is what is happening to the women who object to “whore” on this blog.

  • Ruthie

    Dear everyone,

    The problem with the attention whore thread was less with the use of the word “whore” itself, and more in the overreaction against those of us that’d rather not it be used. I was much more offended by the implication that I was being “oversensitive” (!) and “shrill” (!) and “strident” (“HELLO FEMINIST STEREOTYPES, I haven’t seen you much on the internet today!”) simply because the issue was raised.

    (“Yes, it’s been a while, because I’ve been hanging around too many news websites, instead of hitting the comments of my favorite blogs. Why yes, Feminist Stereotypes, I am still doing the thing where I care about how people respect women, even if they’re not disrespecting me specifically; you know, ra ra sisterhood and all that. Yeah, it does get tiring sometimes, especially when it pops up where you least expect it. But hey, if I haven’t been getting called an emotional basket case because I tried to ask someone to be a little more respectful even though I’m sure they didn’t mean it the first time by someone completely different than the person I was originally talking to, which I know is just -so- -insanely- -presumptive!- of me…then I haven’t LIVED. It’s like a vial full of Gummiberry Juice to my cold, man-hating, hairy feminist…well, we don’t have hearts or souls, so…lungs? Yeah, lungs. Much better than what I was originally going to say, more spam-filter friendly.”)

    This is PRECISELY what happened:

    Oakley: Can we lay off the use of “whores” and other gender slanders here?
    kthx

    Reply by vorjack:
    I thought about it, but I couldn’t come up with a another phrase that quite captured that way that Westboro will do just about anything to grab another minute of the spotlight.

    THE END!

    Vorjack showed he a) understood it was problematic but did not intend to be offensive, b) couldn’t think of a better word, implying that he would welcome alternatives, and c) also implied that if provided with such alternatives, he would try to use those terms instead in the future to avoid being problematic. Showing 1) consideration, 2) respect, 3) he was in an understandable loss for words moment like we all have, and 4) a likelihood that he would not repeat what he did, especially if someone gave him help about how to avoid it. Perfectly fine and respectful and addressed all my raging feminist ire. (Which btw, hadn’t even actually been raised at this point. I’m too numb to the sexism that is everywhere to get my Spidey-sense all tingling over someone typing the “h-o-r-e” word, or I’d be twitching all day long.) Most feminists will respond well to the “I-tried-to-come-up-with-a-better-word-but-my-brain-was-tired” thing.

    Oakley proceeded to try and provide some helpful alternatives, and that’s when all hell broke loose with OMG YOU GIRLS AND YER CENSORSHIP VORJACK CAN TOTALLY SAY WHORE WHENEVER HE WANTS STOP BEING SO SENSITIVE THERE’S NOTHING EVEN WRONG WITH WHORE NO ONE CARES (meaning -you- are no one, since you care, but it’s not like you even matter)!

    (Even though Vorjack himself suggested he would have gone with another term if he could think of one!)

    And THAT’S when my craving to go all Feminist Hulk on said hellbreakers overcame my basic drive to avoid being this guy: http://xkcd.com/386/

    So, the point is: It’s not really about the word “attention whore.” All yous guys whose identities are so tied up in your ability to use the word “whore” whenever you want can go tatoo “I’M WITH ATTENTION WHORE –>” on your hairy butts as far as I’m concerned, and I wouldn’t bat an eyelash, except to feel very, very sorry for your significant other if he or she chose to walk on your right side. I won’t even call you a sexist for that, just a moron.

    But when you say “gah, you people are so sensitive about your whores!”, and “you’re taking it out of context!” and all that other DISMISSIVE (<–real problem! Not the whore thing!) bull, you are sending the message that you don’t care about the perspectives women who read this blog,” probably because you don’t care about the perspectives of women in general, and you contribute to an atmosphere that makes women on this blog feel unwelcome. NOT because of the use of the word “whore” (which is a tiny but easily fixable problem), but because of your blatant disregard and disrespect of the women who tell you it’s a tiny problem.

    But hey, if you’re fine with women not being comfortable with reading this blog, that says more about you and your priorities than about me and my distaste for profligate use of “whore.”

    To be honest, in the above survey, I’d probably choose “Meh.” But I didn’t, on principle. But this survey…
    completely.
    misses.
    the point.
    of what the -real- problem was.

    /the.end

    • Ruthie

      AHHHH html fail. Sorry for all the bold, folks.

      [LMNOP: Fixed, no prob!]

      • Nox

        Now I feel kinda bad for calling Michael Behe a “bitch” earlier.

        • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

          Don’t feel bad. Michael Behe IS a bitch.

    • http://edman.tumblr.com Edman

      This. A thousand times, this.

    • Elemenope

      It’s an interesting objection (and, I certainly agree, more weighty than the objection over the term itself).

      There is always going to be a tension between insensitivity and oversensitivity in communication, because the nuances of meaning are carried using signals that are highly subjectively interpreted, with those interpretations being colored heavily by the situation, identity, and experience of the audience member. While nobody has the right to not be offended, we all carry a reasonable expectation that normal interactions will not intentionally include inflammatory hostility toward our persons or a relevant aspect thereof.

      I think though that while you are right on-the-money with the problem of people being too dismissive of the complaint, you in turn are being dismissive of the real root of the reaction against the complaint, but that both of these things are essentially irrelevant for an even more basic reason.

      Part of the problem is that theory aside, in the actual case we have before us (Vorjack’s post), the signaling, while subjective in a technical sense, is very hard to mistake. There is next-to-no way to read Vorjack’s post as an attack against women in any sense. And even if there were any confusion on that point, it would be (and was) cleared up by the exchange you quoted between Oakley and Vorjack. So in this case, pursuing the point past that is a bit like looking for an argument. If the case presented some ambiguity about Vorjack’s intent towards women that remained somehow unresolved, then pursuing the point would be reasonable and probably fruitful. Since there isn’t, it makes everything that follows :

      1. An abstract exercise
      or
      2. a fight for the sake of a fight

      Which is exactly what followed, and tellingly after the clarification is where everyone (and I really mean pretty much everyone) started being ridiculous.

      OBVIOUSLY, whore, as a word, has historical gendered baggage. OBVIOUSLY, that baggage is not necessarily present in all uses, especially neologisms that borrow only the surface relevance of the word. OBVIOUSLY, when a word (even a putatively gendered one) is being applied to a multi-gendered or non-gendered entity (like, say, an organization of persons, like the WBC), a gender-based attack cannot be legitimately imputed. OBVIOUSLY, intent and context change the appropriateness of sobriquets and epithets. OBVIOUSLY, words can be used innocently and still legitimately offend. OBVIOUSLY, we as communicators cannot purge the language of all terms that might offend someone listening/reading. OBVIOUSLY, words change meaning over time and the process by which they do are natural shifts in usage (heck, the word “nice” used to be a grave insult, implying ignorance or baseness).

      And worst of all, everyone knew all of that before the conversation started (except, perhaps, the factoid about “nice”). People were sniping over abstractions that did not apply to the already solved case of whether Vorjack’s particular use was out-of-bounds. And furthermore it does little good to make the conversation about the “general” case when dealing with a topic like communication where all relevant factors are going to be idiosyncrasies of the individual case.

      One might go so far as to say there is no such thing as a general case, only individual uses that due to their unique context and subtext either are or are not offensive. The only way to address it as a general case is to argue whether the word should ever be used at all. In which case we’re talking about something simply pointless, since offensive words aren’t simply going to be expurgated from the language; they exist to serve a purpose, as distasteful as some find that purpose to be.

      • Oakley

        Elemenope, who do accuse of “pursuing the point past that is a bit like looking for an argument?” Kodie, Ruthie and I have responded all day to those who have pursued us.

        • Elemenope

          Elemenope, who do accuse of “pursuing the point past that is a bit like looking for an argument?”

          I’ll go ahead and quote myself: “after the clarification is where everyone (and I really mean pretty much everyone) started being ridiculous.”

          Everything that followed after you and Vorjack established that his post was not a case of misogyny either in intent or in any abject sense–everything–was pretty pointless. And after a certain point (pretty close to the beginning) it doesn’t even matter *who started it*, if anyone at all can claim that distinction. Once engaged, everyone was busy stridently asserting fairly obvious uncontroversial points (that I listed above) in the testiest way possible. Was one side “offense” and one side “defense”? I don’t think so in any significant sense, and I don’t think it materially matters to what resulted or whether carrying on with it made any sense.

    • Oakley

      Thank you again and again, Ruthie! I admire your stamina on this. I think I’ve been open-minded and patient today, while at the same time speaking up for myself. It’s wonderful that some people can show concern and some actually understand my recoiling from gender insults. But the callousness of some comments is discouraging. As if it’s some edgy new discovery to disdain and dismiss women, especially when their wee baby fee-fees are hurt.

      I hardly know what to make of this vote thing. I asked Dan on the other page to explain why he gets to rant about WBC’s words but my opinion about words is dismissed as “a tiny minority.” His response is to put up this poll. OK, I’m in “a tiny minority.” Q.E.D. what? My opinion and I are voted off the island? Somehow this doesn’t feel as welcoming as all those cupie-pie greetings that people like to wave around.

      • Elemenope

        Of course not. Just because many people disagree with you does not mean that their welcome of you was either insincere or is rescinded in any way.

        • Ruthie

          Say it with me: The disagreement is NOT what is making Oakley feel less welcome.

          The DISMISSIVENESS is making Oakley feel less welcome.

          And the dismissiveness hasn’t really gone away.

          I suspect it won’t. The conversation will just die. Most likely positive outcome is that in the future, people won’t be dismissive, but the only thing that will prove that and make Oakley (and us) feel less rejected is time.

          • Elemenope

            Everything else aside, 200+ posts across two threads is not “dismissal”, it is “engagement”; the very opposite of dismissal. If the tenor of that engagement is one of your interlocutors doubting the severity of something someone finds severe, and that is what the argument is putatively about, that is a interpretative disagreement.

            Dismissal would be something along the lines of a cursory post or two dismissing the arguments as being unnecessary to address and then never commenting on them again. Describing “disagreement” (vehement as it may be at points) during an engagement as “dismissal” is a mite inaccurate, at best. For what it’s worth I found the whole exercise un-illuminating and entirely overheated, with everyone saying obvious things at the top of their lungs if if they were either new or controversial insights. Now that it’s slipped into meta-argumentation, I feel more comfortable, because arguing about arguing is something that touches on an academic interest of mine (discourse ethics).

            • Skippy

              One wonders what Jurgen Habermas or Seyla Benhabib would say about this exchange…

            • Elemenope

              They would have found Derrida, drugged him, dragged him to the room, thrown him in, and bolted the door from the outside.

              (And plugged their ears so as not to have to hear the ensuing screams.)

            • Skippy

              Completely OT, but back in grad school, Derrida came to Vanderbilt to give a talk. I and a friend joined the two or three hundred grad students who packed a lecture hall to hear him speak. I sat there, with note pad and pen in hand, ready to receive the wisdom of Jacques Derrida. He opened his mouth to speak…

              …and made absolutely NO SENSE.

              I swear, I sat there, trying to write down something–ANYTHING–that would memorialize my being in the presence of Derrida. Finally, I leaned over to my friend Maggie and said, “Am I the only one who doesn’t understand a damn thing he’s saying?” Her response: “No. Let’s get out of here.”

            • Elemenope

              Finally, I leaned over to my friend Maggie and said, “Am I the only one who doesn’t understand a damn thing he’s saying?” Her response: “No. Let’s get out of here.”

              That’s exactly what I’m talking about. He was a walking human logic bomb; nearly useless for analysis, but great fun when, you know, you could use a logic bomb.

            • Kodie

              I think the dismissiveness is because a lot of people missed the point entirely and raised their pitchforks over a “sensitive wimminz – we must burn them!” kind of way. Almost everything that has been said defending the phrase “attention whore” has seemed not to be having the same conversation at all, and it’s frustrating. It’s not engaging. It does make me and Ruthie probably post more than we think we should have to, which only has exacerbated the problem 94% of people have with the 6% who dislike the phrase.

              And I don’t care if 94% of readers disagree with me, I just wish they disagreed with the same thing I was talking about or ever answered my questions.

            • Elemenope

              Honestly, after re-reading the thread (again, ugh) the charge of “dismissiveness” seems especially problematic. At several points people criticized the *point being made* (by you or Oakley or Ruthie) and you would respond with, e.g. “Sorry? Sorry I spoke up? Sorry I didn’t do what I’m supposed to do?”, or, “Translation: what women think doesn’t matter” and the like. It’s passive-aggressive projection, from the fact that people disagree, to the idea that they therefore dismiss the concerns out of hand (with sexist icing on top).

              People did engage the points and questions head-on, but there was an undercurrent that by disagreeing with the charge of offense that women and their feelings were being dismissed. That’s flat-out an illegitimate debate tactic in a context like this one, because there is absolutely no way whatsoever–short of agreeing with you–that a person could undertake to demonstrate that they are not motivated by callousness or dismissal.

              When I write I care about what effects those words have on the people who will read them, and I don’t think I am unusual in this regard. You have to assume the opposite of pretty much everyone in order to read into those comments the implication of callousness or dismissal. This is what allows the transformation of yahweh simply signaling agreeing with Michael’s point into a signpost of him dismissing women’s thoughts and feelings. It’s not a reasonable imputation of meaning or motive.

          • Sunny Day

            The DISMISSIVENESS is making Oakley feel less welcome.

            Meh.

          • Nzo

            Say it with me: The disagreement is NOT what is making Oakley feel less welcome.

            The DISMISSIVENESS is making Oakley feel less welcome.

            Victimon, I choose you!

      • http://theskippyreview.wordpress.com Skippy

        Oakley, are you saying that the term “attention whore” is a gender insult?

        I really think that you’ve been presenting a zero-sum scenario here with regards to the debate/discussion going on. The way I’ve been reading your posts–and please correct me if I’m reading you wrongly–it’s come off as though you’re saying that those who disagree with you are dismissive sexists who callous oppressive cads.

        • Ruthie

          Those who disagree that “whore” is an insult are not “dismissive sexists who['re] callous oppressive cads.” (all insults that YOU came up with, by the way; none of which have been said AT ALL by us three). Those who want to disagree without -seeming- like “dismissive sexists who['re] callous oppressive cads” can say so without making it seem like we’re hypersensitive for bringing it up, particularly when they say they can at least understand where we’re coming from (and if they don’t see that, allow us to explain). Saying, “Meh, I don’t think so, but I guess I understand how you could see it that way” or “I have no idea how you got there, could you explain?” would be fine. No sexism, no oppression, no callousness.

          It’s the reaction that was the problem. As I’ve said like 12 billion times. Accidental offensiveness is a tiny problem that’s easy to fix. Deliberate dismissiveness is not a tiny problem. Deliberate dismissiveness may or may not be tied to whether or not said person disagrees with us.

          BTW, I don’t think any of the three of us, ONCE, called anyone a sexist.
          …yeah, I just Ctrl-F’ed the whole discussion on both. No one was called a sexist as of 7:00pm, though the word was used to refer to terminology a few times, and I in my pretend-guy-rants said “don’t call me sexist” a few times (even though no one had).
          Frankly, I did this on purpose, because it’s makes people go into reaction and denial mode, and I didn’t want that. And frankly, I don’t know if anyone is sexist deep down inside. But I -can- say that certain actions and terms are sexist, even if I don’t know your deep-down-inside-brain, just like I can say and do racist things, even if I’m not a racist deep-down-inside-my-brain. But that doesn’t mean what I just did or said wasn’t racist, it doesn’t mean what I did or said was OK, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be taken to task for it. What I did or said may just mean I was momentarily shi tty, which happens sometimes and which I should be called out on because it’s not an excuse, or it could mean I didn’t realize what I did was racist, which means someone needs to clue me in and soon. And the best people to determine whether what I did was racist are people who have experienced racism. The best people to determine whether saying “whore” was sexist are those who have experienced sexism. One of which is me.

          Problem 1: Is “whore” sexist, even when used in a gender-neutral context?
          My official-sexism-experiencing-brain’s diagnosis: Possibly, certainly has bad connotations, so it’s problematic; best bet is to not use it just to be safe. Not worth reaming someone over (which we didn’t), but worth pointing out (which Oakley did).

          Problem 2: Is dismissing women who point out that certain words are problematic as “over-reacting,” “shrill,” and “strident” sexist?
          My diagnosis: Yeah, that’s pretty crappy. And that choice of words is crappy, because those words too are usually used for -women- disagreeing, not men.

          FORMAL NOTICE: There is no zero-sum scenario and there never has been. None of us have presented it that way.

          We have pointed out that there are problems and that people’s responses to our pointing out those problems have been less-than respectful, but we have by and large engaged those points of argument with our own perspectives without person-specific attacks.

          We have never said, “The word whore is always directly about and insulting women and everyone who uses it is sexist and a bad person.” We have made more nuanced points and we have not been accusatory or drawn conclusions about your character, but rather explained our experienced perception of your words and let yourself be the judge.

          Frankly, it seems like most of you who have been most “strident” about opposing us in this debate are upset at the possibility that someone might think you’re sexist. That’s good, because it means you don’t want to be sexist, which is a great attitude. But it’s bad if you not wanting to be sexist means you try really hard to justify why something women tell you is sexist isn’t sexist, instead of listening, saying “Point taken,” and moving on.

          None of us want an apology. (I’m sure some would like it, but it’s not really expected and I for one don’t expect people who are being rude to apologize for being rude, since if they cared about that they just wouldn’t have been rude in the first place.) What we want is for you to one, THINK about what we’ve said, two, ACKNOWLEDGE that our interpretation is something to think about, and three, TRY not to do it in the future even if you don’t agree, because you know it will probably upset somebody. And frankly, step two can be completely optional/nonverbal.

          I don’t care if you disagree with me. I care if you’re dismissive about disagreeing with me.

          • Skippy

            Without belaboring the point, I don’t think “attention whore” is at all or in any sense the same thing as “whore.” I think there’s been a conflation of the two–and citing the poll about “attention whore” as being indicative of an unwelcoming atmosphere or what-not is part of that conflation.

          • Elemenope

            I don’t care if you disagree with me.

            That’s pretty dismissive, isn’t it?

            [rimshot]

            I keed, I keed!

    • Mark the Pilgrim

      I agree with this 1000%. I actually read this post before Vorjack’s one and so thought that Vorjack had gotten into a heated argument with an over sensitive poster but upon reading it, it didn’t seem like too much of a big deal. I was kind of surprised at all the hoopla considering it was a non-issue.

      • Elemenope

        I was kind of surprised at all the hoopla considering it was a non-issue.

        Seriously, I hadn’t been on the site for most of the day, and then I came upon the post.

        Wow.

        Well, it’s not the first time it’s happened. The nature of Internet communication in particular accentuates all the factors that can cause unintended offense, and also simultaneously makes it more difficult to clarify or address such concerns in a way emotionally satisfying for the offended.

    • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

      Given how many women have disagreed with you, I think it’s incredibly unfair for you to say this:

      you contribute to an atmosphere that makes women on this blog feel unwelcome.

      By my count, there are 3-4 women strenuously objecting, and just as many, if not more, arguing against you. Conflation for the win, I guess.

    • Daniel Florien

      The poll doesn’t miss the point — it gets at the root of the issue for the blog. If a good percentage of readers are offended by it, I’ll make an effort not to use it. If a high percentage of readers are not, then I won’t think about it very much — unless I think it’s an ethical issue, which I do not. I have not been convinced and I have read the comments with an open mind. “Attention whore” is not meant as a slight against women, I do not mean it that way, no one means it that way, and the phrase has nothing to do with women.

      I think that the conversation has predominately turned from “it wasn’t a big deal, but now it is” is a good direction and more sensible. That’s an easier case to make IMO.

      I totally get why 25 readers are offended by it, and they have a right to mention so, but I imagine about 25 readers are offended at almost every post. That’s what I wanted to know in the poll. People have a right to disagree with me, and I’ve been reading the debate with interest.

  • Shin

    Who, exactly how, showed “blatant disregard and disrespect of the women?”

    • Shin

      sorry,
      *Who showed “blatant disregard and disrespect of the women” here? How?

      • Ruthie

        Shin,

        Initially, it wasn’t blatant disregard and disrespect for women. It became that.

        It started with commenters calling Oakley’s complaint “absurd,” “taking the terms too personally and somewhat out of context,” etc., which firstly makes it sound like her complaint was illegitimate. Kodie proceeded to argue that her complaint was legitimate and tried to point out why.

        What became more blatant after that was the way that Oakley, Kodie, and I were responded to, with the repeated attempts to shut us down. Saying we were “strident” and “shrill” are well-known feminist stereotypes. I saw few such responses to the few men that were in agreement with us or who acknowledged we had a point, even if they disagreed with us.

        The blatant disregard was evident in the word-choices, many of which had heavy overtones of “hysterical over-reacting over-sensitive -women-!”, and in the repeated implication that what we thought didn’t matter and we had no business trying to say there was a problem. The disregard was in the “tiny minority” word choice, implying that the (women only, at the time) who had raised the issue were too insignificant to matter.

        I’m pretty sure that when people were saying that their opponents were those things said above, they weren’t thinking of Custador.

        Not saying it couldn’t have been worse; it could have. Which is why I don’t think badly of anyone here, even those dropping the “strident” and “shrill” comments. But the dismissiveness is still there, and it shouldn’t be.

        The whole reason the discussion was raised was, as I said:

        …what the women here are saying (and -some- guys only appear not to be comprehending) is that it ALIENATES the women readers here. This isn’t, or shouldn’t be, a guys club, but using words like “whore” puts off the women who read here and are a part of the community. And no, the appropriate response to that is not “Stop being offended by that word then!” Women who are atheists shouldn’t feel like we have to read past gendered insults (no matter how unintentional) in order to participate in this very excellent blog and community, and if you care about your women readers you will listen to what they have to say and try to work with it, even if you disagree, instead of dismissing it as something “in our heads” or “in our perceptions” or acting like WE are being insulting and attacking by asking you not to use terms -we- perceive as insulting.

        Using words like that can alienate women readers, just like using the word “gay,” even if used about non-gay people or things and not with the intention of referencing actual homosexuals, can and will alienate gay readers, even if it doesn’t offend all gay readers away.

        If UF cares about women readers, posters and commenters should please avoid using the term, per some of your women readers. If UF doesn’t care about your women readers…
        …just tell us so we can go find some place that actually cares about what we say. And enjoy the sausagefest that results.

        • Elemenope

          This comment really crystallizes for me exactly what was gnawing at the edges of what bothered me about your argument.

          When you say “Initially, it wasn’t blatant disregard and disrespect for women. It became that.”, that is a claim of sexism and misogyny being perpetrated by members of the forum. Straight up. So when people complain about being called sexist or misogynist, it doesn’t mean that you have to utter the literal words “sexist” or “misogynist” in order for their claim to have validity.

          …which firstly makes it sound like her complaint was illegitimate. Kodie proceeded to argue that her complaint was legitimate and tried to point out why.

          Calling an argument illegitimate may be an attempt to callously dismiss it, but it may also be because the person honestly believes the argument is illegitimate, i.e. lacks proper foundation, is poorly constructed, does not address the topic, or is otherwise defective. Now, whether Oakley’s argument actually is any of those things is irrelevant to whether one of her interlocutors could reasonably and honestly believe that it was. That you dismiss this possibility is problematic, since one of the most important rules of productive discourse is the presumption that the other person is arguing in good faith.

          What became more blatant after that was the way that Oakley, Kodie, and I were responded to, with the repeated attempts to shut us down. Saying we were “strident” and “shrill” are well-known feminist stereotypes. I saw few such responses to the few men that were in agreement with us or who acknowledged we had a point, even if they disagreed with us.

          Again, those interlocutors could have been consciously or subconsciously drawing on strange outdated stereotypes about feminists in order to denigrate you, Oakley, and Kodie, but they may just as easily have been arguing that the points were being made shrilly and stridently because they believed that you were making the points shrilly and stridently, in other words a simple criticism of the mode of argumentation. This too is dismissed by you out of hand.

          Are you seeing the problem, here? The Internet is a place where, more than pretty much any other discourse environment, it is illegitimate to assume *anything* about one’s interlocutors, their identity, history, motivations and goals, because the epistemological situation of each participant about the others is incredibly degraded. The sheer number of assumptions that you and your interlocutors must read into each others comments about their and your motivations and orientations in order to arrive at your and their conclusions makes, from the outside view, it all rather silly sounding. When you boil down the factual claims, they all sound unremarkable, and when you boil down the argumentative claims, they all sound, well, rather childish. Almost to the point where each side is doing the “but *they* started it first” routine.

          • Daniel Florien

            Great points El. You always bring discourse up a notch.

            • Kodie

              I have to apologize because I don’t think anyone actually did call us shrill or whatever, I mean they didn’t use that word, but I know I put it out there that it felt like they had, and felt like they might as well have.

            • elivent

              I’m really glad you pointed this out, because that seemed to be one of the biggest things that Ruthie kept mentioning – that people were actually calling you guys “shrill” and “strident”, and meaning those terms in a sexist and dismissive way. Strident was mentioned once, but it wasn’t until much later, after the majority of the argument seemed to have played itself out. That argument was really bothering me, though.

              (Late comment is late.)

          • UrsaMinor

            I hate having to guess at conversational nuances on the Internet. The intended tone of the writer is completely lost on the screen (bold and italics and emoticons notwithstanding).

            Hmmm- could this be why discussions on Internet forums turn into shooting matches so often?

        • Skippy

          If UF cares about women readers, posters and commenters should please avoid using the term, per some of your women readers. If UF doesn’t care about your women readers…
          …just tell us so we can go find some place that actually cares about what we say. And enjoy the sausagefest that results.

          Does that…ultimatum extend to the term “attention whore” as well?

          • Daniel Florien

            Wait, is “sausagefest” okay to say? Sounds like a gender-specific phrase used in a derogatory way to me….

      • Sunny Day

        It was a car wreck.

        Somebody cut someone off, there was some sort of fender scuffle. Nobody intended to cut anyone off but there’s some road rage about the aggressive driving inherent in the system. Fingers were pointed. Now people are yelling “WHIPLASH, I’ve got Whiplash!” Lawyers were summoned, Cats and Dogs sleeping together. MASS HYSTERYIA.

        Kinda sad I missed it. I could have put in a boot or two. There’s nothing wrong with the word boot is there?

        Now, I’ve done it. :(

        • Elemenope

          Oy! I wear sandals, you insensitive clod!

          (No, I don’t. I hate sandals. My fiancee loves them. Even in winter. I think that’s absolutely nuts. When she loses a toe to frostbite, she will too.)

          • Sunny Day

            (So as not to appear “dismissive” Sunny Day draws upon the works of Charlie Chaplin, The Three Stooges, and Chevy Chase to fall all over himself to apologize)

  • WarbVIII

    I at least of those you refer too suggested at the start that some were blowing it out of proportion , following that post I was accused of being dismisive,and telling you what you think and how to think,was selectively quoted and generally attacked for stating my thoughts,that is by 3 forum members. It was not I that pursued the conflict or made it something else,sorry but that was primarily yourself Oakley, and Ruthie,with a reasonable assist from Kodie and some other scattered members.I didn’t persue…but you 3 definitely did kinda like how I can’t defend myself or my statments without being wrong simply because I defended someones right to say something you percieved to be offensive.

    • Ruthie

      Warb, Oakley wasn’t the only one who thought you were being dismissive. If you don’t want us to think that because that wasn’t your intention, and you really sincerely want to know, I would happily chat with you about an approach that you could have used to make your point without sounding like you didn’t think our perspectives were a waste of space. I won’t be hurt if you don’t think it’s worth it, because this discussion has been going on for a long time, and if you cared before, you might not now and I probably wouldn’t blame you.

      I will say that, looking back, I was a bit too sarcastic with you in particular and I’m sorry for that, really; I stand by my points but my tone was a result of the general discussion, which I’m sure you’ve seen before on UF. And I’m sure the tone was the largest part of what made you feel attacked (as it was with myself, and I suspect Kodie and Oakley as well). I’m human, just like any other guy or gal on this board, and I get mean sometimes. It’s not an excuse, but it’s a reason. I could go into a whole deal about women being expected to be the nice ones but I don’t want to start that, the fact is, courtesy is courtesy. I don’t think I started the tone problem, but maybe I can finish it.

      So can I just say: if this happens again, maybe we can all come to some kind of consensus instead of yodeling past each other.

  • http://sixmetamorphoses.blogspot.com/ Jordan

    It just makes the word all the more enjoyable knowing that there are people offended by it.

    • Sunny Day

      True Dat.

    • Skippy

      Hey, that’s what’s kept “South Park” going for over a decade.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

      So, so true. I feel like people are WAY oversensitive, anymore.

    • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

      Exactly. If you laugh at it, it loses its power. It becomes less offensive because you, a member of the target group, pointed, laughed, and said:

      WORD SLUTS AND ATTENTION WHORES EVERY LAST ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AW SNAP! TAKE THAT B*TCHES! HAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAAAAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      That’s what I do. I steal the Kool Kids (TM) words and use them against them. BOO-YA!

      Ladies, I say this with all the love in the world: Don’t give away your power by being offended. Turn the tables! We ain’t the b*tches. They are. We ain’t the sluts. They are. We ain’t the c*nts. They are. We ain’t the whores. They are.

      We are thinking, feeling, strong people. We have voices and we use them to say to those who would oppress us, “Shut up, b*tch!”

      • Elemenope

        Entirely outside the context of this clusterfuck, I find it interesting as a matter of sociological observation that imputing negative female terms to male members in male-dominated societies is always more damaging to social standing (and more effective epithetically) than imputing negative female terms to female members in those same societies.

      • Kodie

        @ LRA – I don’t think our points of view are mutually exclusive. However, this is different from this thread yesterday where you did say speech was important and that words mean things. I know sexism and violence are two different threats, I do however think the shooting was coincidental to the violent campaign images and phrases. Words are still words, people can use them insultingly or carelessly. You can’t really take someone’s intent from them when they insult you. You can choose not to be insulted. But you can also examine how we got to where we are now that words that still mean bad things can be thrown around without even thinking by people who otherwise, I don’t think, would want to hurt people. I’m insulted by a great lack of logic in this conversation, instead choosing to focus on how the poor ladies were offended and how we can offend them more by telling them how they’re supposed to react and completely missing the point or the value of such a conversation. There’s a difference between being offended and like, having a conversation to examine the casual usage. Custador gets it. Edman gets it.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

          Look if there are words you don’t like, fine, you’re perfectly free to not use them. But don’t you DARE try to tell anyone else how to think or how to speak… which is what you’ve been doing here.

          Quite honestly, I’m almost ashamed to share a gender with you.

          • Kodie

            Don’t I DARE? Try to tell anyone —— what to think or how to speak?

            Do you even look at the things you write?

            Quite honestly, I think you’re being beyond hysterical in your reaction. Yeah, I said it. You’ve gotten angry over I don’t even know, what you think I said. And then you DARE to tell me what to think and how to speak. I’m sorry if my ideas were so powerful that you spent the afternoon smashing your head against a concrete wall, and then stumbled back over to computey thar and thought that what you had to say was productive or sensible. You’re just an abusive person.

            • Sunny Day

              In this context I think the phrase, “Don’t you Dare” is more of an expression of revulsion rather than the hypocritical command that you want to assume it is.

            • Kodie

              I don’t know, I think WMDKitty imagines herself something like a tyrant of order to the world. I’ve rarely seen a post in which she didn’t try to dictate how people should be, according to her, and get very uptight about stuff and the yelling and hostile reactions, so yes, hypocrite.

            • Sunny Day

              Nah, going with revulsion and disappointment, it’s what I’m experiencing anyway.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              It’s very much revulsion and disappointment. Not only am I being told how to speak, I’m being called a “troll” for not toeing the feminist line.

              I’m not offended by that — I’m more amused, really. Kodie is basically demanding that she be allowed to bitch — oops, that’s a “gendered” insult, better not use it, lest someone be offended! Anyway, she’s demanding that she be allowed to *ahem* complain loudly about being offended by words that were never meant to offend, and that any dissenting opinion (such as mine) be silenced or censored because it’s “offensive”, or “insensitive” to her.

              She is, essentially, telling others what to think, how to feel (i.e., she’s offended by such-and-such, so everyone else should be, too), and how to speak, demanding that we all conform to arbitrary standards of “propriety” to protect her oh-so-delicate female sensibilities. Additionally, her continued emotional responses when I have applied reason and logic, her refusal to even consider my points… That is what’s offensive, that is what I’m finding disappointing and revolting.

            • Kodie

              Is revulsion and disappointment only a feeling you’re allowed to have, or WMDKitty? Still hypocrisy. I’m just using words. We’re all taking them a little too much to heart, but only some people are allowed to. SSDD.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Cry moar, feminazi.

            • Custador

              Come on dudes, let’s leave off the name-calling. Regardless of how we each respond differently to the word “whore”, the word “feminazi” isn’t nice!

            • Kodie

              You’re only a troll. If you have anything important to say, you haven’t said it yet. Everyone else can use their words to communicate but you are just being a troll.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Just because you refuse to accept logic, I’m “being a troll.” I’ve said several important things, meanwhile all you’ve said boils down to “BAAAAAAAAAAAWWWW! I’M OFFENDED!!!!!!!!!! BAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWW!”

              Would you like me to call the Waaahmbulance for you?

            • Kodie

              You can say that’s what it boils down to, but that doesn’t make it true. You actually should look at what you’ve said to me, if anyone said those things to you, you’d think they were a troll.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Nah, I’ve been there. I shrugged it off and went on my way. Maybe if you’d apply more logic and less emotion you’d understand…

        • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

          Well, when discussing feminism in our lives, we are usually talking about every day social dynamics. When talking about the situation with the Congresswoman, we are talking about public affairs.

          In every day situations, a woman is generally dealing with normal people. Here, a woman (like me) has to think about how messages about her gender are received. It’s fine to carefully point out words that might be offensive. Sure. It’s also fine to laugh at them. I have a crude sense of humor. If someone uses offensive terms, I deflate the power of those words by turning them around and using them to *include* people outside the target group. The consequence of doing this is that the meaning of the word shifts or broadens. It loses it’s pointedness when I do that, and so I gain power by doing it. I have my limits, though. I only do this for terms that apply to me. Hence, I don’t go around calling people the N word (for African Americans) or the F word (for gay people). I don’t feel that it is my place to do so, but neither do I get offended when other people say it in a term-broadening, deflationary sense.

          The situation with the Congresswoman is one in which her opponents were using irresponsible, VIOLENT language against her. The arena of people she is dealing with is the public. There are both normal people in the public and extreme people. Extreme people take that careless, irresponsible, violent language and act it out because they are acting on a profound sense of powerlessness or because they just don’t have the ability to think abstractly enough to separate the rhetoric from reality. I suggested that this kind of language be moderated only and very specifically in elections (as part of campaign laws or with civil courts) because the consequences of it are that people get shot. People getting shot is much more serious than someone offending me with some word.

          I’ve worked in a man’s world for a long time (academia). I pick and choose my battles, but overall I can honestly say that the men I work with are enlightened, good people. Only twice can I think of men who were insensitive, chauvinist jerks. One was an advisor who gave me bad advice and when I figured out what was going on, I switched advisors. The other was an old man who wrote inappropriate questions on a test,and when I reported it to someone I trusted, I found out that they already had a file on this man and were dealing with it administratively. Of course, men have occasionally said insensitive things to me not really meaning to, but not to the fact is that I try to choose my battles carefully.

          I don’t like to see people here at UF deeply upset. It has bothered me to see people frustrated and upset because you are people I communicate with regularly and I don’t like the idea of y’all being angry with each other. This argument seems to have gone beyond our normal disagreements and now I’m wondering if people are going to say mad at each other. I hope not.

          • Kodie

            I’m not mad at anyone. I’m a little unhappier than I was with exactly 2 people who are reacting very severely.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Because applying logic now means “reacting severely”… riiiight.

              The only ones “reacting very severely” are you, Ruthie, and Oakley, and all over words that weren’t remotely offensive. Seems to me you’re the ones who’re trolling, here.

  • Nzo

    I’m just going to mirror my comment from the other thread…

    If you’re so easily offended by a cliched phrase, the internet is not the place for you. While you’re at it, you might want to find a cabin in the wilderness where you’ll never have to hear anything that might be construed as sexist, racist, or anything else that might be offensive.

    Screw your focus on the word “whore”, the phrase was “attention whore”. The meaning is completely different, and arguing otherwise is just stupid.

    Office drone – does not mean “male honey bee”
    Pussy whipped – does not mean that someone got hit with a whip (maybe, but I won’t speculate)
    Douche nozzle – has nothing to do with a faucet
    Cock bag – does not contain your gym shoes
    Riding bitch – does not mean “female dog” or “female human with an attitude problem”
    Flip a bitch – does not mean “female dog” or “female human with an attitude problem”

    Attention whore – does not have a subtext of sexism, you thin-skinned attention whores!

  • RJT

    Nope. It may be a bit provocative in a rhetorical sense, but not offensive morally. Heck, we call our dog, whose always in your face looking for affection, a Love Slut…and we love the beast!

  • http://nomad-spacebook.blogspot.com/ nomad

    Yes. (No, not really). It’s vulgar. Use “media prostitute” instead.

  • nazani14

    Your graph doesn’t show the breakdown of approval/disapproval by gender. What percentage of UF readers are male/female?

    The term “attention whore” shows a basic ignorance of the prostitution profession, for lack of a better term. Putting the two words together assumes that the prostitute displays herself in an assertive manner for the pleasure of exhibitionism. In reality, prostitutes dress flashy, call out to men as a way of attracting the business they need to survive. It’s advertising, plain and simple. They tailor their appearance and actions to suit the preferences of customers.

    If words like whore and bitch ever become gender-neutral, we are probably a century or two away from that. In the meantime, crack a thesaurus and find alternatives. How about used-car salesman? How about over-the-hill playboy? How about pathetic attention-seeker?

    So, why don’t you use the term exhibitionist, instead of whore?

    • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

      If words like whore and bitch ever become gender-neutral, we are probably a century or two away from that. In the meantime, crack a thesaurus and find alternatives. How about used-car salesman? How about over-the-hill playboy?

      Derp.

      [LMNOP: Fixed.]

    • Elemenope

      If words like whore and bitch ever become gender-neutral, we are probably a century or two away from that.

      We are certainly much further away from that if people aren’t allowed to use those words for putatively genderless contexts. The true irony of this situation is that people who are insisting on offense are preserving and even augmenting the power of these words to offend, going forward.

      • Kodie

        Words also become obsolete.

        • Elemenope

          They do, but only when either the conditions that cause the event/object/idea that the word was designated to refer to no longer exist or the event/object/idea itself has otherwise become obsolete, or when another word more accurately describes the idea (and the nuance of subtext) that the word was formerly attached.

          And it can’t really be done intentionally. It’s a “don’t think of elephants!” situation, with additional social effects reinforcing the retrenchment.

          • Kodie

            I thought this was more a case of “think about your language a little more than you’re inclined to” and “AH- They’re trying to censor me! I will say something taunting and immature!”

            Everyone has a choice to use whatever words they like and I don’t think it’s censorship to talk about some of them and ask people to think about them a little more than they’re inclined to. I don’t think anyone’s actual rights are being violated on either side, I don’t really think I have power to tell anyone what to say, but however, I have words to use to communicate what they might think about, if they were willing to, and then go on using the word or choosing not to, because our vocabulary is vast. It seems more limiting to rely on this common slang, people are censoring themselves from the task of finding other words in a perverted defiance.

            I think that’s what Oakley meant when she expected more from a reasonable bunch of people. Many are sort of acting like a bunch of crazy Christians who over-react to a topic of interest, a difference of opinion, clinging rigidly to your dogma, oh me, the language it cannot change. I have a mouth to talk and fingers to type, I can’t control everyone, can I? Why are they acting like I think I can? But everyone’s individual language can change, and it’s ok if they don’t want to, but the reasons they bring don’t sound as if they recognize their personal control over anything they say or write. They sound like they are controlled by the language and they don’t want to be conscientious, this topic makes them afraid they’re losing something very important to them. Is the phrase “attention whore” really very important?

            I’m sure it will go out of style eventually, and in, say 15 years, I might call some 22-year-old hipster (or whatever they call hipsters in 2026) an attention whore and he’ll say, “ew, nobody says that anymore!” and I’ll still feel like the asshoIe (I don’t think that word will go out of style in my lifetime).

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              You’re the one who blew it out of proportion, Kodie.

            • Kodie

              Please stop being a nasty person. Or don’t. Whatever.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Only if you stop behaving like a child.

            • Ruthie

              I resent that. I feel like I was -instrumental- in blowing it out of proportion. I like Kodie but she can’t take all the credit, that’s totes unfair. I worked really hard.

              And Kodie is clearly not behaving like a child, as YouTube illustrates that she is infinitely more articulate and observant than children.

            • Elemenope

              ROFL.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Ruthie, I pretty much ignored you, because Kodie was making it all about her and how offended she was by people — *gasp* the HORROR! — not tailoring their language and expressions to her tastes.

              And you’re right — she isn’t behaving like a child… most children would have realized the argument was futile pages ago!

            • Elemenope

              I thought this was more a case of “think about your language a little more than you’re inclined to” and “AH- They’re trying to censor me! I will say something taunting and immature!”

              Are you saying that that is an illegitimate reaction to have to that request? Any time someone asserts an ought, it pays to be wary of attempts to institutionalize those normative impulses (which inevitably come, if not from the person expressing them, then from someone else who agrees but is unreasonable about means and ends). Saying that that feeling is illegitimate is tantamount to saying that women’s feelings about a non-sexual phrase with sexual history like “attention whore” are illegitimate.

              Is the phrase “attention whore” really very important?

              Important? Not existentially for sure, but linguistically it is in a sense “important”, no more or less than any other idiom that easily and pithily expresses a concept that would otherwise take a great deal of exposition to convey.

              Pretty much everyone understands the metaphor being employed in order to take the concept of prostituting oneself out of a sexual context and into another, unrelated context, and it elegantly encapsulates the notion that the person being described is selling themselves (their image or media presence) for fame, notoriety, or attention. Ironically the sense here is closer to the etymological root of the word “prostitution” (Latin.,”pro-”, forward or front, “statuere”, to hold forth or expose) than the actual concept currently connected to that word.

              I’m sure it will go out of style eventually, and in, say 15 years, I might call some 22-year-old hipster (or whatever they call hipsters in 2026) an attention whore and he’ll say, “ew, nobody says that anymore!” and I’ll still feel like the asshoIe (I don’t think that word will go out of style in my lifetime).

              Maybe so, but given its capacity to do what I just indicated above easily and elegantly (again, from a linguistic point of view), I wouldn’t bet on it.

            • Kodie

              Saying that that feeling is illegitimate is tantamount to saying that women’s feelings about a non-sexual phrase with sexual history like “attention whore” are illegitimate.

              Isn’t that what they were saying? It technically is a “battle” to see who can cling to what they believe harder, isn’t it? And the poll says 375/400 “win”. And really I never said “ought” in a censorship way – I thought that reaction was over-protective and couldn’t see the trees for the forest. I had expected smart people to be willing to fuddle around with the word and not necessarily agree with me, but examine their habits in a logical way, without unnecessary fear that I have any power to change them or was trying to. I think on a proudly “reasonable” blog atmosphere, it’s just weird to see so many people acting all lizard-brain on this issue, and then not recognizing that. It didn’t start out that way, but it got that way very quickly.

              given its capacity to do what I just indicated above easily and elegantly

              Pretty much that I’ve wondered over and over again, in an institutional language sort of way, in an interesting-topic (to me) kind of way, how such words (not just one word) that were used to demean and control women happen to be a lot of the same words that so easily and “elegantly” describe anything else. For that, I’m told I’m over-reacting and I should take the power away by using it more. I’m less interested in how offensive that word can be than how it and other words became easy synonyms because there were no other words to reach for. Is that censorship? Is that topic too nuanced for anyone to talk about it? “A word” is just small, it’s abstract, it can’t hurt anyone – and I well effing know that. That I don’t need to be hammered, but to me, language is also systemic, how we name and know things, how we label them, and what we think of them. Words are not actually impotent. Some people were willing to think about it without actually changing their minds, and I think that’s great.

            • Elemenope

              And really I never said “ought” in a censorship way – I thought that reaction was over-protective and couldn’t see the trees for the forest.

              Exactly. It wouldn’t be you, it would be someone that agreed with you but didn’t share your restraint about censorship or your nuance about what would be appropriate to say/do about the problem being highlighted.

              For example (let’s get meta-meta!) immediately after the shooting of Rep. Giffords, a discussion was had by many, many people about the appropriateness of certain types of political rhetoric (including here). But, predictably, there were one or two assholes in the House who took the result of the near-consensus of that argument (that the discourse is coarsened and overemploys violent metaphors) and tried to propose a law to make it illegal to employ certain metaphors in political campaigns.

              There is always someone willing to take the conclusion of a reasoned, nuanced discussion about usage and ethics–bereft as it is, itself, of the nuance that produced it–and use it to do something really stupid.

              So it isn’t an illegitimate fear, even if you yourself can tell the difference and would never advocate the latter.

              Some people were willing to think about it without actually changing their minds, and I think that’s great.

              I agree. I think, though, that when there comes to be an underlying expectation of mind-changing that things can go off the rails.

      • Custador

        You can change what a word is currently used for, but you can’t alter the history that word has. Tell you what, why don’t you try to take back the word “nigger” in the way that you think the word “whore” can be reclaimed and see how far it gets you. Yes, semantics drift – but that doesn’t magically change history.

        • Elemenope

          History can, effectively, die in a word. As I pointed out earlier with the example of “nice”. Sometimes the history is fresh because it is still playing out; that is when history remains alive etymologically.

          History can also be *manufactured* for the purposes of investing a word or phrase with meaning. The term “rule of thumb” has absolutely nothing to do, historically or actually, with rules regarding husbands beating wives or anything of the sort, but you wouldn’t know that from the plethora of enthusiastic folk etymologies that have been put forth since I was a kid till today (thanks, Snopes!). Often times, remembering the history of this or that cryptic idiom is remembering something that never was.

          Semantics drift, and sometimes, yes, it magically does change history–at least for the purposes of language use!

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

          I hear black people using “nigger” all the damn time, in a positive sense.

        • UrsaMinor

          I would just like to point out here that holding a word responsible for its etymological history is like holding a person responsible for his ancestry.

          Words drift in the semantic space. Sometimes they drift 180 degrees in meaning. In a real-world conversation, the only important thing is the meaning as it is understood now by a consensus of living speakers. (And yes, I realize that there are some words on which there is no consensus of meaning, or more insidiously, connotation. This usually sorts itself out in the free linguistic market in a few years).

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

            THIS.

    • Nzo

      What percentage of UF readers are male/female?

      What does it matter? No one says anything about gender until you feminists play your massive insecurity card. Take your separation of men and women in a text-based forum to 4chan or something.

      The term “attention whore” shows a basic ignorance of the prostitution profession

      This sentence shows a basic ignorance of the meaning of “attention whore”.

      Putting the two words together assumes that the prostitute displays herself in an assertive manner for the pleasure of exhibitionism.

      Putting the two words together augments the meaning entirely… and is nothing close to how you’re describing it.

      • Custador

        I’m sorry, but it DOES matter. If a significant proportion of the women who voted find the word offensive, then to continue using the word despite knowing that makes you…. Well, pick an anatomicaly based prejorative.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

          No. No it doesn’t. It just means that some people need to grow a thicker skin and learn how to deal with reality.

        • elivent

          Now I’m really curious as to how many women actually voted – because, to be fair, 25 out of 400 total voters isn’t really all that significant of a proportion anyway. I’m not saying this to disregard anyone’s feelings, but I -am- genuinely curious.

  • UrsaMinor

    So, we now have a unscientific poll that tells us that 19 out of 20 people in the self-selected group who cared strongly enough about the issue to respond do not take offense at the term in question.

    I hope no one tries to draw any conclusions from the results.

    • Kodie

      Most of the US is Christian.

  • Thegoodman

    While I am not offended, “attention whore” is definitely a sexism loaded term. If you read a few feminism blogs (and comment on them) you will quickly learn that many ‘normal’ things that us white males think are not offensive, are actually offensive things to say.

    Hysterical, attention whore, throw/run/scream like a girl, and countless other things have been grabbed by the feminist movement and represent the sexism that is accepted by society. I tend to agree with feminists on this topic and have tried to curtail my sexist insults.

    • http://sixmetamorphoses.blogspot.com/ Jordan

      Theoretically, I suppose they have a point, but I just have such a hard time getting riled up and offended when people throw insults at me, that I see it as kind of unreasonable (ha!) and petty when other people don’t react with indifference as well.

    • Elemenope

      Meh. The problem I see is that languages are organic constructs that were not self-consciously anything other than a tool to describe situations and ideas, and as such when a person tends to poke it with any sort of ideological stick too much it will always collapse into amorphous goo. Of course some words are gendered; we have had a history that includes gendered concepts. Language exists to describe what we experience. Avoiding that section of the language entirely in order to approach a conscious ideological goal will necessarily impoverish the language, including necessarily many idioms and metaphorical uses of descriptive words.

      It is hard to calculate just how prevalent Christianity-laden language is in English. It perfuses the entire context of the language, especially in its use as literature, and the construction of popular idioms. As an atheist–or even any sort of non-Christian– is it reasonable to take offense at the prevalence of Christian imagery, ideas, and terms in English? I think not. It would be an unreasonable demand to eschew all these elements of language simply because of their origin, even though anti-atheist sentiment is still a culturally powerful meme, perhaps even more explicitly powerful than anti-woman memes in the US.

      • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

        Could be worse! We could be speaking a Romance language like French were every single noun is gendered!

        • UrsaMinor

          And is chauvistic. A group of 999 women and 1 man requires a plural masculine adjective in French.

          • UrsaMinor

            Zut! That should be “chauvinistic”.

            • Kodie

              I think it’s time English shortened it to chauvistic.

            • UrsaMinor

              Why not just “chauvy”? I like “chauvy.” It sounds more hip. And the French could then borrow it back as “chauvé(e)”. “Alors, cette idée, c’est trés chauvée, non?”

              (with apologies to M. Chauvin)

            • Elemenope

              The chavs will be upset.

  • yahweh

    Well I for one am glad that we settled this once and for all :-0

  • E. Brock

    As the great George Carlin once said — “There are no bad words. Bad thoughts. Bad intentions. And woooords.”

    Attention whore is just another common euphemism in our current culture.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

      Which is exactly what I’ve been saying this whole time!

    • Custador

      There are lots of offensive words which are in commonly accepted use. “Cripple” was in fashion for a long time to describe somebody who did somethign oafish, clumsy or stupid. Likewise “spastic” and “mong”. Are you going to tell me those words are not offensive when used in that context?

      Also, you’ve spectacularly missed Carlin’s point. Like, by a massive margin. There are no bad words, fine – but if your intention is to offend or if you know a word will offend but you use it anyway, that would be bad thoughts, bad intentions, bad deeds.

      • yahweh

        What does “mong” mean. I am 100% sincere in my inquiry. I have never heard that term.

        • Elemenope
          • yahweh

            Thanks nope. It is always helpful. I’m such a mong for not checking there first myself.

          • Custador

            Urban dictionary failed to get the source of that word right, I’m afraid. It’s not one I’d ever use in polite company, Yahweh. Not even to self-describe.

            • Elemenope

              You gotta scroll down; one of the prominent supplemental definitions (#3) gets the etymology right.

            • Custador

              Oh aye.

            • yahweh

              I will make sure not to use that term around here. Not with everyone on edge. I can only hope the UF community can move on from the “attention wh*re” incident.

            • Custador

              Indeed. ‘Tis getting slightly out of hand; Daniel’s only ever had to lock one thread (thanks to SheWhoShallNotBeNamed), I would hate to see another one go that way :-(

            • yahweh

              Actually, everyone would probably agree that SheWhoShallNotBeNamed is an attention wh*re.

            • Custador

              I think I would say that she behaved like a Surface-to-Air Attention Seeking Missile. But no. I would not consciously use that other phrase again.

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

              She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named… EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!!!!!!!

              Definitely lots of ugly gendered or body part words to describe that hot mess.

        • Custador

          Probably a British one. Often used in a derogatory manner for people who have Down’s Syndrome, because their eyes are supposed to look Mongolian. Bit like “flid”, which used to be used re: people who were victims of thelidamide (google it if you don’t know it).

          • yahweh

            Thanks Custy.

          • Elemenope

            I was impressed by Tim Minchin using “thalidomide baby” in Some People Have it Much Worse than Me; it’s risky, because unless you were around and aware in the Sixties when the discovery of what thalidomide does to fetuses first hit public consciousness, it is a *very* obscure reference. I don’t think I’ve seen it referenced anywhere since the eighties except in Minchin’s song, one random Dead Zone episode, and your comment.

            • Custador

              It’s pretty common for Brits of my age (30) to know the history of the word.

            • Elemenope

              Weird.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

        As far as I’m concerned, people take offense way too easily, and keep trying to read more into what was actually said/written. Seriously wishing certain posters would knock it off — you know who you are — and grow up.

        • Custador

          The problem is, we don’t get to choose what other people do or do not find offensive. We only get to learn how they react and then choose to modify our own speach and behaviour or not. Yes, you are a woman, no the word “whore” does not offend you on a gender basis – but you are not the representative sample of all women who come here. So you have to ask yourself: Is the “right” to use that word in any company (regardless of how that company feels about it) really so important to you that you’re willing to come across badly to everybody else?

          On a gender basis, the word does not offend me, however I now know that offends enough people whom I respect, so that I would rather not use it and risk offending them.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

            Certain posters here have lost any respect I may have had for them, due to whining about words that they, ultimately, have chosen to take offense at, and completely ignoring logic.

            • Custador

              Offense is an emotional reaction dude, it’s not intellectual. I don’t think choice is involved.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Except that it is. One can, in fact, step back and go, “hmm… I’m offended by this. Is there any real reason to be offended? No? Then I’ll let it go.”

              I learned how to do that after years and years of giving the offenders ammo to use against me. It’s an essential skill for being an adult.

              Like I said earlier to Kodie, this shit is Playground 101 — if you react to something offensive, especially if something was intentionally offensive, you’re giving the offender exactly what they want, that is, a reaction. If your reaction is basically “Meh”, i.e. shrugging and walking away, you give them nothing. No satisfaction, no power over you, nothing.

              Of course, dealing with this in a rational manner has simply led to people calling me a “troll”, when I have done nothing that could be considered trolling. I wasn’t looking for a reaction, I was simply making a point. A point that, apparently, some people are either incapable of, or unwilling to consider.

              Why do I even bother, anymore?

            • Kodie

              I wasn’t looking for a reaction, I was simply making a point. A point that, apparently, some people are either incapable of, or unwilling to consider.

              Ok, then your pointed point missed my point. This isn’t about any playground offense and how I’m officially horrified anyone uses words that make me want to throw myself into traffic (which you all but suggested I do anyway).

              I get your point and I actually agree with it in practice, but I was really talking about something else. You called me whining, sobbing, a big baby, blah blah blah. That’s name-calling, dear. You escalated a conversation into name-calling to make your point about how it shouldn’t bother me, but you didn’t bother to read for comprehension, I certainly couldn’t expect you to write with any. That, I suppose, is also my fault.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Um, since when does describing your actions equate to “name-calling”?

              No, I’m asking this in all seriousness, trying to understand your perspective.

            • Kodie

              You should read some of your own posts and see if you learn anything about perception. I don’t have to tell you, you already know.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Another non-answer. Guess that means you can’t answer my question…

              Gotta run, time to eat, then it’s off to classes… if the weather holds.

            • Sunny Day

              Come see the injustice inherent in the system.

            • Kodie

              I find your attitude to be completely more overboard than everyone else’s. You’re powerless. All you’ve been doing is trolling and putting your mouth out there about how unhappy you are. If you were logical, I would not dismiss you, but you’ve been petty and angry and hostile, and you haven’t actually said anything except that portion that people like me don’t belong in society. I don’t think anything you’ve said was called for. I listen to people who have something to say, but you’ve just been trolling and not saying anything.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Petty? Angry? Hostile?

              Not a single one of those apply. You may perceive these things, but you are simply projecting your own actions and feelings.

              Now quit playing the victim, it’s getting old.

            • Kodie

              How come out of everyone who posted yesterday and today, you’re about the only one who, without addressing what I’d actually said, accused me of many things you wanted to, chose to read into them, and cast aspersions. Please stop being a hypocrite and either leave the conversation or say something relevant.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              All I said — all I have been saying — is that words are neutral, and any insult is either in the speaker’s intent, or in the listener’s perception. How is that not relevant?

              The fact is, some people actively look for or manufacture things to be offended about, in this case, the overreaction to the phrase “attention whore”, which is understood to mean “a person who deliberately seeks attention over often-insignificant things.”

              I believe — given your posts in this thread — that you have overreacted to, and are intentionally creating drama over a harmless term that nobody could rationally find offensive. Your response, though understandable, has been overly-emotional and highly irrational, you descended into name-calling (“troll”, repeatedly), you have been manipulative (calling me a “troll” and then getting upset when I had the balls to fling your bullshit back at you), and have basically behaved no better than a young child having a tantrum over a toy that his mum has decided he can’t have.

              I am willing to set all that aside in the interests of, if not peace, at least a comfortable coexistence and an understanding that what you perceive is not always what is.

              Now, what I hear you saying is that you are offended by my blunt and to-the-point posts. Am I right?

              I’ll say this as gently as I can: Life is so much better, so much easier, when you learn to just let go. The big things — rape, domestic violence, the godawful state of our health care system (particularly for mental health patients) — are well worth getting upset about. The little things, like “politically incorrect” language or “gendered” insults, really aren’t worth the time and effort. (I speak from personal experience.)

              Quite simply, I’d rather be honest and offensive. It bothers me that you are essentially asking me to lie.

            • Ruthie

              Kodie, I think you should probably just ignore WMDKitty at this point, since she has been behaving more disrespectfully than everyone else in this discussion. Even the guys who are really pissed and hardcore disagreeing with us haven’t stooped to calling us childish and flinging all this other crap (with no actual examples of -what- it is that’s so childish).

              Just let your #awesome speak for itself and forget her.

            • Kodie

              How hard was that?

              A lot of things you keep saying about me, though, are things you keep telling me to avoid doing. You are having perceptions of my intent or attitude and then blithely going about insulting me, then keep telling me I’m not supposed to mind when people do that. I keep seeing you have an emotional reaction to what I’ve said beyond any intent – that is, what I’ve intended, you chose to over-react, you chose to perceive, they didn’t mean anything, run along, don’t let it bother you – take your own advice.

              Your perception and the names you keep calling me in retaliation, as if I’ve wounded you personally, have been ridiculous, and you are calling me ridiculous. I’ve been able to communicate more calmly with a lot of other folks, but I guess it bothers me when people act like this is 4chan and don’t bring whatever legitimate arguments they may have and speak to me like a person.

              But you still have this wrong-headed idea that I’m stomping my feet and crying out this word, this word! WAAAAAASASSAAAAAHHHH””!!! Really now. Who needs to take a chill pill, because other people have been able to tell me what’s on their mind without being so lazy and brutal, and actually saying things instead of name-calling, even if they intensely disagree with me. Perhaps you could stand to expand your vocabulary to express what you mean to say. But except for this post and another one, you’ve been too lazy to do that. You would rather call me a lot of names. Whether you were honest or offensive doesn’t still mean that you’ve said anything worth listening to or taking to heart.

              Your reaction to your displeasure (and faulty perception) that I can’t tolerate playground taunting is to taunt me even more like you are on a playground. Tell me I don’t belong in society? I mean, do you really think that? If so, you are not the boss, ok, the whole world can piss you off if it wants to, including people who want to complain about everything, because you’re obviously one of them – and you think you belong in society, don’t you?

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              To be fair, you haven’t exactly been clear how I’m being “disrespectful”.

              Is applying reason and logic “disrespectful”?

              Or is it my refusal to toe the feminist line?

              Maybe it’s the fact that I’m brutally honest that’s bothering her?

              Will someone please, please, explain this to me?

            • Yabo

              I’m female and not particularly offended by the term used. But no one has pointed out the fact that some words are “trigger words” for people. It’s easy to say “grow a thicker skin” and “they are just words” when they don’t trigger a horrifying event for you. The guy who attacked me and used certain terms has forever ingrained in my mind that situation with those words. I hear them and it hurts. Is that anyone else’s problem, no. But you have to remember, as much as we would like to say “it’s just words” words do hurt and sometimes I can’t just “get over it.”

              I guess I could just stay off the internet, but I like it here so I deal with it. But I do wish that some terms against women weren’t so widely accepted.

            • Kodie

              I think in general – people do not like to hear about bad things. If you think about bad things of the world too much, you could get depressed. Similarly, everyone has gone through bad times and some people can empathize, but most people also like to feel superior – “I dealt with it this way, you are weak for dealing with it not so well,” and then hold that against you.

              What I get is that they don’t validate the experience – like when someone says “how are you?,” they want you to say “fine, yourself?” and they say “good,” then everything goes smoothly. If you told them everything that went wrong, they may politely listen but just the same, wish you would have just said “fine” so they could go about their day. If you spread your bad news to other people, I guess, it’s unproductive for them, so force them to think of something bad, and they will blame you for lowering their productivity or own general happiness that allows them to get through another day. That phrase, “you’re bringing me down, man,” well yeah, some people can be a constant downer and not realize it, and it’s not healthy for them or anyone around them.

              When they actively taunt people who display what they label a “weakness,” it’s savage to me. That’s the opposite of logical. Even if they don’t want to hear bad news, they also don’t want to hear how weak you are about it, and put a lot of pressure on people to deal with things “the right way,” which can be damaging if you try to force yourself to… you’re caving into the demands of a society that tolerates weakness very immaturely. You always have to keep your thoughts to yourself, or only share them with a few close people, and hide your weaknesses. You thought you went through a bad thing and they will drive you further down unless you muster yourself up and prove to the mob you’re not weak.

              At least that’s how it looks to me.

      • Kodie

        but if your intention is to offend or if you know a word will offend but you use it anyway, that would be bad thoughts, bad intentions, bad deeds.

        I agree with this, it’s pretty much right what I’ve been saying. I would not like to be called an “attention whore,” although I know what it means and I can be one, I know the person doesn’t mean anything nice by it, regardless of their attention or inattention to its relation to “whore,” and realize they are not actually calling me a “whore” in the sexual sense. I have no problems likewise using words like “idiot” and “moron,” and I think “retard” is going that way – we just always seem to need more words to describe someone stupid, but that doesn’t make people who can’t help it feel any better.

        With the “PC” affliction, retarded people are called “developmentally delayed” or something, but they also do not want to let go of “retard,” as “idiot” and “moron” used to be actual classifications, “mentally retarded” is pretty accurate. ‘Delayed’ and ‘retarded’ mean about the same thing, although ‘delay’ implies this persons capacity will catch up eventually, which is not normally true. They had to think of a “kind” word to describe people in this condition they cannot help being in because morons started calling everyone a retard, so it became offensive to call actually retarded people a retard, and it’s offensive to call Joe Schmoe a retard, but less offensive to the retarded people and those who care for them to call him an idiot or a moron, they’ve fully divorced from those words. Joe Schmoe would still be offended, because those aren’t nice things to call someone anyway, but maybe he deserved it.

        • Custador

          “Idiot”, “moron” and “retard” are all actually very interesting examples since they originated as medical terms to describe different specific mental illnesses. I certainly wouldn’t dream of describing an autism sufferer as an “idiot” these days, but that’s what the word originally meant.

          • Kodie

            Were they also used as epithets at the time? If I said, “an idiot lives next door to me,” would you have both understood that person to be mentally retarded and acted less charitable toward him or her, or only the former? Like today’s very popular usage of “retard” in the slang, it really only stings if you know what a retarded person is – so it’s not nice to them, because otherwise mentally able people who do something stupid are compared to someone with who can’t help the disability they have. Similarly, I don’t feel the word “idiot” carries as much power because it’s no longer something people relate to a serious mental disability, which is conflicting when you are reaching for a word that attempts to inflict a more profound shame to an averagely intelligent person’s behavior as not just a little less intelligent than average.

            Words like stupid, dummy, idiot, moron, as well as crazy, insane, deranged, do not seem to cut it for a lot of people anymore, so what does PC language accomplish by creating new words? People go after those new words to really communicate more precisely what they mean – special, retarded, or for mental illnesses, words like psychotic – hyperbole. Also common is to remind people to “take their meds,” – a lot of people do take meds, but in a social situation, it’s not that helpful for people who do (or do not) to be teased about it, for them or for better understanding and accepting of people with illnesses controlled by medications. Underdiagnosed mental illnesses because people are ashamed to have one and get help for it = problem.

            I’ll admit I don’t think about this often enough to be upset by it, but it’s something I would try to be more sensitive about when choosing my words, actually choosing to judge people less, so that I don’t need to feed a habit of coming up with a clever word to tell them off so they really know how I feel – as has been said many times, they should not care anyway, so why bother coming up with names for it.

            • Michael

              The only thing I can say to the credit of people redefining words for various disorders and such is that there is some real difference between calling somebody “a mentally retarded person” and “a person with mental retardation” (or “a person with [insert term here]“). This is also why you see terms like “people with disabilities,” “people with autism,” etc. I personally think the whole issue is overblown, but I at least recognize that there is a different implication in the two cases.

              That said, you don’t generally see little people referred to as “people of short stature” or whatever.

            • Kodie

              Part of it, I think, is medically redefining things to be more and more precise as we learn things about the brain, but I also think it has to do with things we make fun of people about or are impatient with them about. We (society) does make fun of people with physical differences, but to the degree we would call a short person a “shrimp” or maybe a midget, and I don’t think we use the word midget for anyone as a physical classification anymore. Dwarves or little people, usually.

              This was interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphemism#Euphemism_treadmill

              Words used for mental disabilities (aka handicaps) and illnesses (which, to me, are also a handicap) are particularly vulnerable in a society who really wants to handle other people, to label them idiot or crazy for not following norms, and then not just idiot or crazy, because those words lose power – the actual new neutral terms they invent to get away from the epithets become the new, more powerful hyperbolic expression because they accurately (sort of) describe someone in that condition.

              It’s not like the words themselves are going to go away, but that people will always be looking for a word to describe their displeasure with someone’s behavior outside of what they perceive as the norm, and to really, really get to them, you have to come up with the stronger insult when the old ones get too far removed from their connection to what you are comparing those people to.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Look, I’m constantly frustrated by my disabilities, from legs that won’t bloody relax (there goes the left one, again), to hands that won’t always cooperate, to fighting gravity AND my body to transfer in and out of my wheelchair. It’s frustrating and annoying and I hate moving so slowly and inefficiently! So I imagine you get annoyed or frustrated when I or someone like me is essentially slowing you down. (Hell, I get kinda stabby about it when I’m in a hurry.)

              Naturally, in order to express your annoyance, you’re going to need words to describe the action (or inaction, as the case may be) that is annoying you. Which is where the language thing comes in — many terms for medical conditions (most outdated) have been turned into slurs, which, unfortunately, is the inevitable consequence of trying to come up with new or feel-good terms for disabled people. For example, “special needs” has resulted in people saying things like, “oh, don’t mind her, she’s just a little bit special.” (For maximum effect, read that in a syrupy-sweet condescending tone. You’ll “see” what I mean.)

              On to the “language that grinds my gears”.

              I have a special place of loathing for pretty dolled-up euphemisms used to describe the disabled, especially the oh-so-vague “special needs”. Makes me *eyetwitch* like nothing else. Right up there with “differently-abled”.

              This, essentially, is where my hate-on for coddling people with PC language comes from — it’s not a desire to offend others willy-nilly (though it can be fun to deliberately provoke people sometimes), it’s a desire for less of this wishy-washy “let’s all be super-happy-cheery-bouncy and not address the real issues” BS, a desire to just be treated like a person (instead of handled with kid gloves, like I’m gonna break if you utter the word “cripple”), and a return to language that actually *means* something. I refuse to cater to and coddle people who are offended by words, because I expect the same lack of coddling and catering from any of you.

              Cripple. Gimp. Disabled. Whatever. Calling it a “special need” does nothing to HELP me, and gives you, the listener, no real clue what my disability is. (It’s Cerebral Palsy) I prefer — though I recognize that this is not always possible — to use accurate medical terminology, so nobody gets confused, or lumps me in with the mentally retarded (Yeah, that has happened. Especially as a child! Thank you Mom and Dad for advocating for me.) or gets the idea that I’m incapable of thinking, speaking, or doing things for myself. (Oh, the stories I have about that!)

              I am disabled.

              I am human. (Even if I don’t feel human sometimes. Meow.)

              I have the same needs and desires as anyone else (yes, that includes the need for love, companionship, and even sex) and I have no problem running over a few toes (literally and figuratively) if I need to.

              What I have learned is that, while being blunt and to the point can offend some people, it’s often necessary to get the point across in as few words as possible. It also conserves my limited supply of energy, as I don’t have to waste my breath beating around the bush to make a point that, with flowery language, may very well be missed or misinterpreted. I’ve also learned that not everybody has a working sarcasm detector — being a Disabled Snarker is as natural as breathing, for me, so I just assume that everyone can figure out when I’m being sarcastic. (And boy was I wrong about that!)

              Kodie, earlier we both got upset and angry and out of hand. I’d like to apologize for any offense I may have committed (and I’m sure I made more than a few social errors), and extend the floofy paw of peace in your direction.

              I still don’t understand why some words are “bad”, and I’m still failing to see where “gendered” insults are inherently a Bad Thing — I treat most everything (short of pronouns such as he, she, they, them, etc) as gender-neutral out of habit. I dunno, maybe it’s because I grew up in a household where nothing was inherently “gendered”, but I can’t even wrap my head around the concept of “gendered” toys, much less the concept that some insults are “worse” or “more insulting” because they use words that, historically, have (almost) exclusively applied to (wo)men. To me, an insult is an insult is an insult, and I see no difference between, say, “Kodie, you’re being a dick,” and “Kodie, you’re being a b*tch.” (Please don’t take that the wrong way, I’m just pulling a random example out of my ass.)

              As for “behavior outside of the norm”… what the hell is “normal”, anyway? (I admit that even I, who really ought to know better, get a bit scared around people who are clearly not in touch with reality.) But seriously, what IS “normal”, and why is “normalcy” so fetishized? What is so desirable about being just another rat in the race, indistinct from the other rats?

              Sorry for the rambling. I started out intending to make a short, snarky comment about frustration and disabilities, but ended up with… well… this mini-manifesto. I know I jumped all over the place, there, but I think it’s at least halfway coherent, and I hope I’ve managed not to step on any toes this time.

              Anyway, I’d just like to apologize for being bitchy earlier.

              Off to bed now — everyone have a good night!

            • Kodie

              See, thank you. You do understand. You understand that if I said you had special needs, it would grind your gears, so to speak. It ought not to – if I didn’t know you were bothered by it, I have kind intentions behind it. I also know the effect of some PC language, having worked in a setting with a high focus on multiculturalism, language to be respectful to someone (especially if you know nothing about them) can be “well-intentioned” white/able/privileged people, essentially a sign of erasure of differences. I worked with people of several races, nationalities and sexual orientations, and the big smack to the head came from a staff meeting regarding one of the off-site supervisors (white) having had a seminar in “color-blindness,” which is …. not exactly how I was raised by my parents, but how I raised myself, according to what I’d heard about equality in my mostly-white neighborhood. Treating someone black “as if they were white,” treating everyone “the same,” is not exactly as bad as treating them like shlt, but it’s missing and erasing their differences. I don’t even like to call them differences now, as in I am “the same,” they are, you are, “different.” The workplace was not just diverse, mind you, it was a teaching environment where learning about this stuff was the focus – how to treat people like themselves and not according to a normative standard. I was not in the program as a student, but I attended meetings and a lot of this filtered down to me.

              I guess that was a long way to say, you are in a wheelchair; language people use to be nicer to you tends to erase that fact because we’ve been taught that acknowledging it is rude. To treat you equal to me (not in a wheelchair) rather than treat you like you is supposed to mean I think being in a wheelchair “doesn’t matter”, you’re “as good as” an abled person. That’s as undignified as calling you a gimp as an insult, because I’m measuring you against a standard of able and pretending I don’t even notice your wheelchair. That’s just how a lot of people were raised to be “fair.” I can understand why you hate it, but I would listen to you and not use words you don’t like.

              I was just rereading through the posts and thought well enough leave them alone, but then I saw this. I have to say it’s been quite a few days. You do not know my history or what I’ve seen or been through, I do not disagree with you because you don’t “toe the feminist line,” I do worry about a lot of the same things you worry about, and I do like to analyze stuff, that’s not the same as being personally offended. I don’t think small and large issues are separate, because how we think about something comes from our language to name it, and informs how we act towards it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being more aware. I’m sorry too.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              Hey, the gears in my head may turn a little slowly, but at least they’re turning!

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

        “Spastic” describes my legs. “Cripple” is a damn fine word, and needs to be used more, instead of this bullshit PC “special needs” crap.

  • Tee

    who is the attention whore who started this debate?? >_>

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

      That would be Kodie, Ruthie, and Oakley…

  • Custador

    I think your poll misses the point. Would the phrase offend if used about me? Not massively. Do I think it’s acceptable to use it in general? No, I don’t. Do I think the phrase is objectionable? Yes, I do. Why? Because enough people who I wouldn’t want to offend do find it offensive. I don’t want those people to be offended, ergo simple courtesy and respect for their sensibilities suggest that I should find the phrase objectionable.

    • Daniel Florien

      I’m offended that you think my poll misses the point. So can you not say that please? :)

      • Custador

        The meaning of polls has clearly undergone semantic drift, or you would not be offended….

        • UrsaMinor

          The meaning of polls has clearly undergone semantic drift, or you would not be offended…

          Poll:

          late 13c., polle “hair of the head,” from M.L.G. or M.Du. pol “head, top.” Meaning “collection of votes” is first recorded 1620s, from notion of “counting heads;” meaning “survey of public opinion” is first recorded 1902. The verb meaning “to take the votes of” also is first recorded 1620s. Pollster is 1939. A deed poll “deed executed by one party only,” is from earlier verbal meaning “cut the hair of,” because the deed was cut straight rather than indented (see indent). Poll tax, lit. “head tax,” is from 1690s.

      • Thegoodman

        You seem to confusing confirmation of offensiveness with censorship. Just because something is offensive doesn’t mean it should be retracted or not said..

        I do get your joke…just sayin’

    • Michael

      Custador, there is a difference between thinking a phrase is an ethical issue and acknowledging that your readers don’t like it. For example, I don’t hold anything against anybody who uses the word “ain’t,” but I won’t use it in a formal context because at the very least it annoys many readers. And that annoyance isn’t fundamentally different from the offense caused here.

      The reason DF had a poll is because he wanted to determine if using the term (and probably other terms like) “attention whore” offended enough people for it to be worth his time to self-censor it out of his posts. But at least by his interpretation of the poll, that is not the case, and since he doesn’t see it as an ethical issue (and, by the way, nor do I), he doesn’t feel the need to consciously avoid it.

      • Kodie

        Do you think it was better for him to put the issue to a poll vote? I could have predicted the results of that poll. It’s his blog, he can do whatever he likes. He can read all our posts or not read them, and continue to think the same or change his own mind and do what he likes.

        I guess, however, that if he did change his mind, then nobody else would be allowed to say “attention whore” in their comments if they still felt it was ok, but I don’t think that is what would have happened. Daniel could change his mind (I’m not expecting him to, I’m just using it as an example if he had), for his own posts. He can and has the power to say “I won’t do that.” For instance, I think Custador writes his own posts and seems like someone who will consciously avoid that phrase, but it isn’t his blog. I wouldn’t expect Daniel’s personal policy on word choice to affect anyone else’s personal policies on word choice, so I don’t think the poll was necessary for him to do whatever he thought was the right thing to do (not that I’m dictating to anyone what “the right thing to do” is, but I know how it sounds).

        • Michael

          I don’t think it was necessary, but it is a rather quick and convenient way of summing up the reactions of a lot of people, most of whom don’t post.

          • Kodie

            I suppose it’s more scientific to poll people than to guess, but my guess wasn’t different from the results of the poll. I think what it did was add more fuel, but it’s his blog.

            • Michael

              You’re probably right, but it still seems better than nothing.

  • GaR

    The comments on that post made for some serious facepalming.

    In that context it ain’t offensive. I accept that certain oversensitive people could be offended, but as we in the atheist community so often point out: You don’t have the right to not be offended.

    Expecting someone to censor their blog because 6% of people find something offensive is pathetic. There is material on here that significantly more people than that get offended by.

    • Ruthie

      Asking someone not to use a word that is problematic isn’t pathetic. The fact that there’s more offensive material out there is irrelevant.

      I think I’m getting that a lot of people here are REALLY really attached to being able to say whore. It’s, frankly, odd.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

        It’s not the words that are problematic, it’s the overreaction by some people claiming to be “feminists” that’s problematic.

        • Custador

          I’m sorry, but that’s a level of denying responsibility for the results of your actions that I just can’t buy. You’ve repeatedly stated in this thread that it is the fault of people hearing the words if they are offended, not of the person speaking the words. I have to tell you, that’s just absolute bollocks. Control over the situation is with the speaker, not the listener, and therefore responsibilty for the consequences of that situation also lie ultimately with the speaker. If I cal you a whore and it offends you, that’s my fault, not yours. There is just no way on Earth that you can make it the other way around.

          • Sunny Day

            Nah, that comes down on the idea that some words are just intrinsically bad.

            Control over the situation is with the speaker, not the listener, and therefore responsibility for the consequences of that situation also lie ultimately with the speaker.

            That’s just wrong.
            Its already been demonstrated the speaker had no intention of defaming an entire gender, but here we have a blatant over reaction of listeners over what was said.

            Each listener comes to every conversation preloaded with various assumptions and triggers. Blaming the speaker for not foreseeing every possible situation is silly.

            If I cal you a whore and it offends you, that’s my fault, not yours. There is just no way on Earth that you can make it the other way around.

            After reading your words I banged my hand against my desk injuring it. Since you’ve already admitted that you are responsible for my reactions to your words, where should I send my medical bills?

            • Kodie

              The speaker already had thought about it or claimed to and went ahead, admitting there didn’t seem to be another term to be easily understood by.

              Most of the other people are “don’t make me think about it, it’s your fault.” Thinking about it, you may or may not choose to care about your audience, but once you have been told, it is your responsibility.

            • Kodie

              After reading your words I banged my hand against my desk injuring it. Since you’ve already admitted that you are responsible for my reactions to your words, where should I send my medical bills?

              I choose not to give a flying f*ck about your sweet feelings. See how that works?

            • Sunny Day

              Nice to see you agree its the Listeners fault.

            • Kodie

              You told me the problem and I listened, then I decided I didn’t care. I could care, but I don’t.

            • Sunny Day

              Again making the listener responsible for their feelings.

            • Kodie

              You’re not usually this obtuse.

          • Elemenope

            You’re both (half) wrong. Both the messenger and the recipient have positive duties when engaging in communication, and either can abrogate those responsibilities and become responsible for a miscommunication. It is improper to put the entire burden on either party.

            (I originally had a much longer and more technically detailed message, but it got eaten by server squirrels, so this will have to do. What can I say, I’m lazy.)

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

              So can we all please stop pointing fingers, now?

      • GaR

        Asking or demanding?

        A word is only problematic if you let it be. After reading hundreds of comments I’m utterly unconvinced that the word in question could be considered problematic when used in that context.

        What I’m attached to isn’t specific words, but freedom of speech. And, I suppose, to not pandering to tiny minorities with a bug up their collective arse. That said, I doubt it’s genuinely an issue for a significant proportion of women. I won’t speculate on how many feminists find it a problem since I don’t know the community well enough to comment.

        That said, the poll results speak for themselves. 6% equates to approximately 3/8ths of bugger all.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

    Can someone, anyone, please logically explain why some words are “bad”?

    • Sunny Day

      I think it’s time to call on step one of the flowchart.

      http://atheismresource.com/wp-content/uploads/Debate-Flow-Chart.jpg

      I would also like to add the question, “Can you imagine a point where the word Attention Whore isn’t insulting to women?”

      • GaR

        I can certainly imagine such a point. There was an article on a website Unreasonable Faith the other day for example that used the term in a context that was certainly devoid of any connotations insulting to women.

  • Sunny Day

    This is like one of the splendiferously un-funny Saturday Night Live character sketches.

    You know the one that continues long past where the meager amount of funny has been since all used up. Even though you are mellifluously yearning for a commercial break you can’t bring yourself to turn the channel. Staying to watch long past the point where the verisimilitude of the character turns cromulent just to confirm the point where your perspicaciousness predicted it would end.

    • Elemenope

      For your next challenge, tell a short story of no more than three sentences using the words “uxorious”, “relativistic”, “mallomar”, and “Weltanschauung”.

      • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

        Frederick approached his inevitable death as anyone with a sensible Weltanschauung would. He had lived as dryly as he would die: neither uxorious nor indulgent in Mallomars, for men who had spent a career studying the Tau muon evidence for relativistic physics could not afford such emotional distractions. Indeed, his last words were, “Tell my wife she is free… I shall rest now.”

        • Elemenope

          [Golf claps]

          • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

            Frederick would approve.

  • Arlo

    Offended? I have no use for offence, I’ll leave that for the insecure people.

  • Baconsbud

    I really wasn’t going to say anything, since most of what I would have said has been said by others. I used to allow myself to be easily offended by words but one day I decided I couldn’t let myself lose control just because someone else had to feel superior or appear cool to friends with hateful terms. I do agree by itself whore is used as an insult 99% of the time and can’t think of the last time I used it. The phrase in question though isn’t the same as a whore. I would like to know if some of those that were offended by whore was called whore or similar terms during their life and if when seeing the word, they just focused on it without paying any attention to the rest of the sentence?

    • Len

      I wasn’t (and won’t in the future be) offended by the phrase, but I can (now) understand why someone might be – albeit I think it’s being a bit oversensitive.

      In the phrase “attention whore”, which word makes it bad? I’m guessing it isn’t “attention”.

  • http://www.twitter.com/BillZBub BillZBub

    I didn’t vote in this poll, because I don’t find the term offensive, but I can see how it could be taken that way and I would prefer a more accurate term. Why wouldn’t you just say “attention seeker”, “attention addict” or something like that?


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