Aug. 14th, 2004

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Something a friend recently said in jest reminded me of another person's journal entry. It should be obvious, for two reasons, why that post stuck with me.

Now, I love saying the word "nigger". I love it. I don't have to go into how powerful the word is; we all know. It's just about the acme of hateful language. More to the point, it is a word that is unconditionally forbidden to me, which is part of the reason why I secretly love to use it.

(This, in itself, fascinates me. Mom made sure that we understood how forbidden this word was. Black racism was Just Not Done, although prejudice against other races (Vietnamese springs to mind) seemed to be okay, even if it wasn't encouraged. Still, mom had to teach us the word "nigger" before she forbid it. Parenting is a minefield I'm glad I won't go near.)

The main reason that I love saying "nigger" (which I've typed out four times now, and don't think I'm not hyper-aware of it) is that it's a word I've forbidden myself to use, because of its other connotations. Its use says more about the speaker than the subject. Basically, saying "nigger" is saying, "I'm ignorant. My opinions are worthless. Dismiss me." Good writers these days avoid the word, not because it's offensive, but because when their characters say it, it's a decades-old, obvious shorthand for "ignorant hick". It's a tool that has lost its usefulness.

So. The word has power over me. It shocks me. It deeply offends me. Therefore, I use it, because I can't use it. It's sort of a "funny trumps appropriate" thing with me. "Coloreds" (e.g., my uncle saying, "that's the neighborhood where the coloreds live,") is even better, because it's hateful and offensive, and also has the added bonus of being lame.

I bring this up because I had honestly thought that using "fish" as a pejorative term for females or their body parts had gone the way of "nigger" at least ten years before I even came out. Perhaps it's just the company I keep. Perhaps I'm just prudish, but damn if that word doesn't piss me off.

Am I way off base here? Is it still okay to refer to women as "fish"? Is the term only used ironically nowadays, and I'm just missing it, or is its inherent misogyny still intact?

[There. That oughta win me a few new friends the day before I go hang out at Hairrison. Look for me and John and our new puppy. He's black. (The puppy.)]


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