Thursday, January 11, 2007

Throws Like A Girl

I came across an interesting opinion piece on the British feminist site The F Word. It is about political correctness gone wild (like Girls Gone Wild, heh). You know, having someone point out that calling women cunts doesn't tell flattering things about the caller. The writer of the piece, Sarah Louisa Phythian-Adams, believes that misogynistic language has made a comeback:

The landslide I'm talking about is the MTV language of a generation that seem to believe they already have equality and think Feminism is what Germaine Greer from Big Brother used to do back in the 70's when it was fashionable. In this brave new world of modern language people get 'bitch slapped' and 'pimped', they 'squeal like a bitch' or moan like one and 'erotic' is the new word for any kind of sexual practice that departs from that terribly old fashioned idea of love-making, even when this borders on abuse. And with these new extremes, the middle has started to bend toward the old extremes as the drip, drip, drip effect compiles this new and 'exiting' language into the collective unconscious and we all start to internalise ever more misogynistic lingo.

A few hours of TV - the kind that excuses its language as that of its target (the 18-24 year old male), but is happy to admit that its audience is actually a more general 12-34 - churns out a conveyor belt of derogatory terms, so much so that you lose the will to count. They are of course, most often engendered to women: slag, bitch, slapper, bimbo, whore, hussy, tart, old biddy, total crone, etc. Although I have noticed that the last two are especially reserved for the impudent recurrence of Madonna, a woman who should, according to those who are the experts (and by this I mean radio DJs and TV presenters), know when to give up.

If you're cool you're a 'dog' and any woman is a 'bitch' or a 'ho', especially if you're a pimp, when she's not just a bitch but YOUR bitch. But if they're attractive - they might be fit mooses. (Yes, that is moose with a double plural) and let's not forget those who happen to be married to or dating some male celebrity, who are of course now one of the WAGs.
almost anything can become an insult if you add 'like a girl' to the end of it

In media land, one TV presenter will bullishly joke 'stop being such a big girl' and think nothing of accusing another of doing XYZ 'like a girl'. In fact, almost anything can become an insult if you add 'like a girl' to the end of it. Which they do frequently: even the girls.

I have noticed the widespread use of bitches and hos and cunts and sluts and so on in the blogosphere comments threads, though in the political blog comments they are equally often applied to men. Whether this is a return of misogynistic language in general or just the arrival of it into all our homes through the internet I don't know. The internet has the ability to make things clear that one may only have known by hearsay before its arrival. Right now, for example, I could direct you to many websites where womanhaters gather. Reading what they say is very different from some abstract knowing that they exist.

In any case, most users of the language that belittles women or girls are not misogynists or even necessarily sexists. The language we use is given to us by the society in which we live and many of those phrases have a lot of punch in them.

The ones about girls, such as "throwing like a girl" don't seem quite so punchy to me, and I've wondered why they are used so much. Here are some examples I've collected from political blogs (mostly Eschaton) in the last few months:

Since all I've got for the tome is unadulterated, schoolgirl-like praise, a review wouldn't quite have worked, so I'm just going to shoehorn it in here.
Played by Tony "Throws Like a Girl" Perkins in the movie?

The troops at the gate, Big Dick puts the shotgun in his mouth, pulls the trigger . . . forgets the 28-gauge is a pussy gun, loads another round . . ..

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! I got a big kick out of the fact that Cheenee, the tuffy wuffy, uses a god damn girl's gun to slaughter wounded quail.
so you vote republican i can assume? you do act like a 12-year old girl

I've tried to find some examples of where a person might get compared to a 12-year old girl as a form of compliment, but the only one I can think of would be about someone being as skinny and that might not be a compliment to an adult-height person, either. Yet girls of that age group are fantastic in many ways: full of energy and curiosity, unafraid to try many different hobbies or to learn new things.