Gay as a pejorative?
September 10, 2016 4:32 PM   Subscribe

A gay 20-something that I know used the phrase "fuck this gay earth" in a tweet. I challenged him (as someone who came out in 1990) for his use of the word "gay" as a pejorative, and he said "it's an established meme, it's okay for me to use it that way". How do I combat this?

I did the research and it isn't like this is a use of the word for anything other than to indicate something negative. I tried to talk to this guy (who I like) about this, but the conversation was entirely broken down because, as he said 1) this is an established meme and 2) how dare I question him about what the words he uses mean. How do I talk to someone who uses language like this and have them realize that there is a cultural and meaning baggage that is contained in the words they use without the conversation breaking down across what is probably generational lines? Or is the language really changing and this is a useless fight?
posted by hippybear to Society & Culture (37 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: The upshot of the conversation was "we will have to agree to disagree", but from where I stand now there's this young queer kid who still thinks it's okay to use "gay" as a word that indicates something negative, and that really bothers me.
posted by hippybear at 4:35 PM on September 10, 2016

People to whom specific pejoratives apply have the (culturally, generally agreed) right to use them how they want.

Do not get into discussions like this.
posted by lokta at 4:37 PM on September 10, 2016 [25 favorites]

Hanging out with gay men his age and older might help him change his language and judgment.
posted by parmanparman at 4:40 PM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think all you can do is explain why you find it offensive and then drop it. I think fights of this nature are generally won afterwards; even if the person refuses to say to your face they'll stop using it, a seed has been planted to make them think twice in the future.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:40 PM on September 10, 2016 [53 favorites]

In my book, if you are a member of the group in question, you're free to use a slur against said group in whatever way is culturally agreed upon within your group. Which might include smaller subgroups, scenes, social circles, etc. that can disagree on this stuff, and that's OK.

I'm female, and I really like referring to myself as a "lady" and otherwise reclaiming that term in various ways. There are other women who fucking hate the term and don't want anything to do with it. That's fine. Conversely, I hate the C word and try to never say it, even in a reclaiming way. I don't entirely agree with women who are trying to reclaim it, even though I understand that, at the end of the day, we're all in the same group of people harmed by that word, and it's fine.

Nobody is right vs. wrong in this conversation, is what I'm saying. You can not like it, and it can also be a thing in your 20-something friend's particular social circle.
posted by Sara C. at 4:42 PM on September 10, 2016 [13 favorites]

Response by poster: Sure, but there's no equivalent for using "lady" as a pejorative, like "that is so Lady" or "fuck this Lady world". "Gay" has this other overtone which is used in the wider world as a pejorative, and it pains me to see a young gay man using the word as a pejorative and being resolute about doing so. Is this just a generational thing?
posted by hippybear at 4:46 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I agree with you wholeheartedly but don't think it's going to change how he feels or talks. He's from a different generation so his interpretation is going to different, if uncomfortably and unfortunately so. Perhaps one day he'll think more like you do but, for now, agreeing to disagree sounds like the best, if not ideal, solution. You've made him think; he's given you his perspective.

(FWIW, I'm a queer woman in her early 30s.)
posted by smorgasbord at 4:53 PM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

He's 20-something, so perhaps young and can't be told anything? When I was 20-something I was pretty stubborn and defensive, and the more I was challenged on something the more I would hang on to it. I'd let it go. You've planted the idea, now give it time.

You could perhaps just tell him you prefer not to hear that terminology as you find it offensive, and then if he keeps using it around you anyway, distance yourself.

(Just a guess, but if his peers/friends use the word "gay" as a pejorative, and he acknowledges it as pejorative, then he either has to confront his friends or reject them. He may on some level recognize this and not be able to do it right now).
posted by bunderful at 4:57 PM on September 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

As a gay, I question the notion that there is something productive in challenging someone's invocation of this ironic meme.
posted by mister pointy at 4:59 PM on September 10, 2016 [17 favorites]

You can talk to someone about the cultural and meaning baggage, but you can't make them realize what it means to you. I think it is also generational and language is changing and it's a useless fight. As TPS said above, it's 100% okay to say that you find it offensive, if at the very least to plant the seed of him thinking twice about using it in the future, especially around you.

But just as a datapoint, I have many gay friends in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who use 'gay' pejoratively, also 'fag' and 'faggy' and 'queeny' and many of the other various pejorative interpretations regarding sexuality. These friends use these words selectively among different peer groups, knowing full well that what is appropriate among friends might not be appropriate professionally or in mixed company. So perhaps this 20-something isn't old enough to have a broad enough social sphere to understand when and where and with whom it's appropriate, and it's okay to explain to him why you feel it is not okay so that he can learn. But say your piece, and leave it at that. It's not an argument you are going to win with one conversation.
posted by greta simone at 5:02 PM on September 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

Very close friends who you know would want to know if their use of specific language changed your feelings for them: you can very gently challenge, but you're taking your chances. I've ended up having to ratchet down several friendships in my life because of startling reactions to very mild suggestions that there's better words.

People in your orbit but not terribly close: you can subtweet a measured appeal, generally with a link to a convincing essay etc. If they keep doing it you can privately thing they are garbage and act accordingly.

Strangers, acquaintances: It doesn't go well to confront, go straight to private personal opinions and act accordingly.

People seem to need to come to this stuff in their own way and their own time, and if they wanted to do better they'd seek out ways to do better.

(Also: "pussy" is the word you want for a lady insult. Because it's slang for vagina which is often considered to be symbolic of women (which of course it isn't, but we're not dealing with the enlightened in this case), and women are the absolute worst and also weak etc etc. Some English-speaking cultures prefer a different slang term.)
posted by Lyn Never at 5:02 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The meme is not ironic. The originating quote uses "cocksucking" and "eat dick" and "stick all this up your ass". It's basically a homophobic negative diatribe, full of descriptions of gay sex all as negative things because the person in question couldn't pass a test in college. If there is any irony contained in this "meme", then I fail to see it.
posted by hippybear at 5:03 PM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Friendly reminder to everyone, AskMe's not a debate or discussion space, even with a question like this.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:05 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I wonder if talking to this guy about your experience of coming out in the 90s might help him understand why you feel strongly about this and what it was like for you hearing that word used in the negative way you are describing when you were growing up.
posted by ezrainch at 5:07 PM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

Honestly? I would say, "Dude, it's not an established meme, the people who think it is are idiots, and by continuing to insist otherwise, you've become an ignorant, obstinate ass. Stop being a dick and knock it off."

He's not using nuanced thinking when it comes to this topic, or he'd probably have heard you already. So, change your approach. Go blunt. See what happens. Add a fuck where appropriate.

Then let it go.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:23 PM on September 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

It's clear this is extremely upsetting to you, and I don't think anyone here disagrees that it's pretty shitty and unfortunate. If you want a general consensus that this is Not Cool, you have it.

from where I stand now there's this young queer kid who still thinks it's okay to use "gay" as a word that indicates something negative, and that really bothers me.

If you don't feel that you said your piece about it, or that you fully conveyed that it wasn't just uncool but realllllly hurtful and shitty, then by all means do so! But ultimately the only control you have here is whether or not you continue to spend time with this person. You cannot make him change his way of thinking. If you are in frequent contact with this person, you can absolutely say "don't use that pejorative around me; if you use it that way I will end the conversation." And if he persists, end the conversation, leave the room, eventually you may opt to end the acquaintance.

Most likely he'll stop using the word this way around you after once or twice being reminded. Perhaps eventually, he'll come around to seeing that there are better and kinder ways of expressing himself. (More likely, the meme du jour will change and this will be abandoned, just like nobody says "on fleek" anymore.)

But as far as the feelings you have about the concept overall--that apparently young queer kids, having had a very different experience of queerness, are doing it differently and do not seem to be respecting the struggles and hurts of previous (and current) generations...that's kind of something you have to work through within yourself or with people who are more in your peer group.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 5:26 PM on September 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

have them realize that there is a cultural and meaning baggage that is contained in the words they use

I think part of this may be an age thing, in the sense that many 20 somethings are still learning about how others experience the world and what that means wrt how the intentions behind their actions don't automatically outweigh others interpretations of their actions. (to be honest, some people never really get it, young 20 somethings at least have an excuse). So I agree with ThePinkSuperhero, explain your reasoning and move on, you plant the seed and hopefully one day it takes root.

My closest personal experience was explaining to a friend who enjoyed British TV that the C word thrown around casually makes me uncomfortable because of how I had mostly heard it used up to that point (generally by old white dudes being pissed off that a women wasn't thrilled to be hit on, with the implication that if we were on their home turf shit would get ugly). So I acknowledged that that is not how he used it, but dear god in heaven, that's how some people use it. And to insist that it's just like saying dick ignores baggage that, while he did not create it, is there none the less. I also have complicated feelings about the C word: I'd like to reclaim it and have it be on the same level as dick, I am overly fond of cussing in general. And now I feel a lot more comfortable about it in some circles, but also realize that's not something I should make assumptions about in mixed company.

So obviously I'm from a very different starting point personally and contextually where I could easily 1) acknowledge cultural variations in how the term is used, 2) know how he intends the use , 3) say it's a bit of a gray area to me as well, and 4) then emphasize how regardless of all of that, it'd still make me uncomfortable.

None of that may ring true to you or translate to your scenario though. And I don't think you should feel compelled to tip toe if the blunt and direct approach feels right. I would just keep blunt and direct short, since it's human nature to dig in a bit when put on the defensive. Which is the exact opposite of what you're trying to do.
posted by ghost phoneme at 5:48 PM on September 10, 2016

The counter argument here is that, when an oppressed group reclaims language that has frequently been used against them, it restores some of the power that was taken away.

Yes, this is an offensive phrase. But it is a tweet--you do not know what he is referring to and no, you cannot say this isn't ironic or sarcastic. You don't have any context.

I think that there are two schools of thought out there about offensive, oppressive, and hateful language. Group 1 says hey, this hurts people, NEVER use words like that! Group two says hey, fuck you, I'm going to reclaim these words that have been hurled against me in order to get the power back! At its essence, what you are engaging in is a debate between these two schools of thought. There is no right and wrong--each argument is very valid with a number of concrete examples to back it up. What WOULD be wrong is using your age and experience to silence his experience and viewpoint.

His argument does have validity. When he takes these words and broadcasts them, he is telling the world that this phrase can't hurt him. It's like the n-word--it hasn't gone away. It can still hurt. But there is such a power in black people claiming that word. It is a way of taking back what has hurt them, and on a broader context it has shifted that word, and the power that comes with it, away from the white supremacist culture that owned it for so long.

You don't have to like the phrase. But I think that you are viewing this as completely black and white when it is anything but.

For what its worth, I am a 20something millennial who is absolutely in group two.
posted by Amy93 at 5:49 PM on September 10, 2016 [10 favorites]

I know the meme and not the originating quote, for what it's worth, and I would imagine that's true of 90% of people who say and recognize it. If you're leaning on the original quote at all while trying to decode this you're going to get an inaccurate picture of the frame of mind and the tone with which your friend is using it.

The way I understand it, at least, the work this phrase is doing in my peer group is this: "I am complaining about something earnestly and am very frustrated, but simultaneously recognizing that I'm a moron/whining for nothing/at fault." Using "gay" pejoratively is the way you signal that you're a moron/whining/at fault.

No generation gets to control the way future generations relate to language. (I wish it did; I don't even like to swear.) Being younger, he is probably lucky enough to have grown up with a much less fraught relationship to gay-as-pejorative than you did, and I'm almost certain there's no way, in the long term, for you to change that. For him—depending on where he grew up—it's possible that the only people who ever used "gay" as an insult were losers he didn't care about and who were incapable of actually harming him. It's possible that it's always been low-status and it's never been threatening. And if that wasn't the case, and his situation actually was more like yours than unlike—well, whatever his experience was has gotten him to this place where it's empowering to say this thing ironically.

In the short term, with this guy you know personally, you can (and should) certainly provide some context, and that context should probably at least make him think about his audience when he says stuff like this. Nobody should use the inevitable shifting of language as an excuse to live ahistorically. But that context won't and shouldn't supersede his own lived experience, any more than his context will or should supersede yours.
posted by Polycarp at 5:52 PM on September 10, 2016 [7 favorites]

It's basically a homophobic negative diatribe, full of descriptions of gay sex all as negative things because the person in question couldn't pass a test in college. If there is any irony contained in this "meme", then I fail to see it

A lot of people would be very hard on themselves after failing to pass an important test, and since he is a gay man, that's just what he's doing at some level.

But it's weird he would do this without making any direct reference to himself, and it suggests to me that he sees his gayness as an aspect of a semi-separable and perhaps partly despised sub-personality.

Which doesn't sound healthy, but might only be resolvable if and when he fully accepts his own sexuality.

You might be able to help him with that yourself, but I would be inclined to encourage him to get into some kind of therapy.
posted by jamjam at 6:04 PM on September 10, 2016

I had a whole bunch of words and thoughts but what it boils down to is I think you are just going to have to be as patient and kind (while still maintaining your boundaries) as you can. You and I are around the same age, I think, and I know when I was an early 20-something I combined a sense of "I can take whatever shit the world throws at me" with the internalized homophobia I had and I'm certain it often came out in less than ideal ways. If you can do some version of "you do you however you need to but when we're hanging out please refrain from this stuff that grosses me out" that might work best, both long- and short-term.
posted by rtha at 6:14 PM on September 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

Just a passing thought: I had a therapist who for some bizarre reason was extremely controlling about the wording I would use during counseling sessions, insisting that I not use any phrasing remotely near to clinical terminology, despite the fact I conveyed pretty well what specifically I meant when I used a particular word and acknowledged that my usages were more vernacular than what you'd find in the DSM.

I don't know whether it was due to some problem he had with being distracted by the most remote reference to any clinical term, or that he thought I would benefit from it somehow, but it produced the most tortured and utterly frustrating conversations as he interrupted me constantly and I had to pore through my vocabulary to find words psychologist had never used for anything to be able to haltingly express myself.

tl;dr So maybe even on top of being 20, your friend has had negative experiences with someone trying to control his language and word use, rightly or wrongly, and this is a factor making him extra-stubborn in response to your suggestions.
posted by XMLicious at 6:32 PM on September 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

People sometimes have enormous amounts of baggage and self loathing and self blame and their abhorrent behaviors can be rooted in that. When that happens, it is typically counterprodutive to try to rebuke them or to try to explain that their behavior is actively harmful to others.

Additionally, younger people or people who came after you in some way can be really insensirive and tone deaf and oblivious to the fact that it isn't an onerous big deal for them because others fought those battles that made it easier to be gay or a woman or whatever. They will utterly fail to recognize that your scars and the pain you still carry bought them the luxury of their privileged, cavalier, selfish attitudes.

I have no way of knowing which case this is or if it is something else entirely, but this is probably not a hill worth dying on. You can decide your response here -- such as block or unfriend or unfollow or state as neutrally as possible that you think it is offensive -- but you really cannot control his behavior.

Sometimes, not attacking such people while stating clearly that you see it differently is a good way to play the long game. And sometimes what you do won't make any real difference.

I am personally not a big fan of language policing, but I am not you, so that isn't necessarily pertinent here.
posted by Michele in California at 6:36 PM on September 10, 2016

The fact that "fuck this gay earth" is such a blockheaded way to express frustration / use the English language is why it's funny to people. Like, if someone called me a "cunting bitch" because I took the last jar of jelly at the store, and they wanted the jelly, it would be offensive and jarring (ahem) but I would 100% go home and tell my friends about the "cunting bitch" guy and when we got pissed at people, "erggh that cunting bitch!!" would be our inside joke. Or if I made some very minor gaffe, "wow am I the cunting bitch today" would probably cross my lips.* It's a way of processing cultural baggage, by laughing at someone who is trying to hurt you.

So I am not saying you shouldn't be offended-- he's just young and maybe doesn't realize that the use of the word "gay" as a pejorative wasn't always as obviously ridiculous as it is to that kid, now, in 2016. I think the only way you can make it clear is to say "as an older guy, I remember when casual use of that term was a very different phenomenon, and it hurts to hear that."

Probably 90% of memes and jokes on the internet are about someone owning themselves in their anger at something, so yeah, the fact that Twitter culture is very much about repeating highly stupid things in funny contexts is probably making him feel like you are totally out of touch with what he was trying to convey.

*Based on a true story.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:51 PM on September 10, 2016 [26 favorites]

Twitter can feel like talking among friends at a party even though it's public. I don't know this particular meme but if it's an in-joke or used ironically, you're not privy to the context and I think you should leave it alone. Lots of my tweets of mine that would sound terrible if taken out of context, and if someone tried to tell me what to say I'd just mute or block them unless they were a close friend.

I don't think anything you say on this issue is going to endear you to him, but the best I can offer is reminding him that using the word pejoratively gives homophobes tacit permission to use it in the same way. But even that's dangerously close to saying that black people shouldn't use n***a because white racists will also use (a form of) it. (Black people do have that conversation among themselves, it just doesn't seem to be having much of an effect.)
posted by AFABulous at 6:59 PM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm a fogey, and as best I can tell young people are using "gay" as a pejorative precisely because it offends some people. It's backlash against political correctness.

They know others don't like it; that's exactly why they're doing it. Every generation seeks some way to scandalize the previous generation.

For us Boomers, it was men with long hair, drugs, the Sexual Revolution. For the Xers it was tattoos and piercing. For every generation it includes styles of popular music that the previous generation thinks is garbage.

This derives from something deeper, something which can be valuable: every generation wants to make a difference. That can be constructive, but it can also be destructive. Graffitists vandalize buildings and train cars and bridges because they want to make a mark, make a change. In this case it's almost always valueless and obnoxious. But it also can lead to new kinds of art and literature, advances in science, advances in engineering, and the like.

The point for young people is that they want to rattle the edifice, and if they can't do it constructively then they'll do it destructively. If they can't accomplish something valuable, they can at least get a rise out of people.

The entire point is to be outrageous. To sit down with someone like that and explain to them why you are offended by it, or to blow up and scream them, this rewards them because being outrageous is the point, and you've shown that they've reached you. Your cage has been rattled and that's why you're yelling.

If you really don't like it, get a thick skin and ignore it. If there's no reward, it will fade out, probably. (But not always; some of these things become mainstream, and ironically become targets later by a new generation of young people.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:11 PM on September 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

When you said "person in question", I thought you were referring to the person who made the comments, but re-reading it, that looks like a mistake; yet the point remains: that he would be insulting another person in terms which could equally well apply to him could mean he is very uncomfortable with that aspect of himself.
posted by jamjam at 7:12 PM on September 10, 2016

I'd file this one under "We have different values" and let it go. You can't force someone to care about the same things you care about in the same way.

I agree with others that if he is gay, it makes it much harder to criticize his negative use of the word "gay" -- minorities often stake claim on slurs used against them and they may use them in ways that would be different coming from the majority class. But even if he were straight, I think that doesn't change much about your response. You raised your concerns, said it's hurtful, and he wasn't receptive to your message. You move on and if it bothers you, you can unfollow him on social media and stop interacting with him. I'm not sure picking a fight will get you anywhere or is worth it, especially since this person sounds like a casual acquaintance of yours who is not a big part of your life.
posted by AppleTurnover at 2:25 AM on September 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's a generational thing, and there a lot of reasons why he might do it:

- He's a brat and he's trying to offend people.
- He's immature and thinks it's funny.
- He's lived a relatively sheltered life and thinks that homophobia is a thing of the past
- He has experienced homophobia at the hands of his peers and he's trying to be accepted by them
etc etc etc

I think it would be a fair enough for you to call him out on it, but that it would be a waste of energy and a source of anger for you to try to debate him about it. If you go too hard, you're also likely to make him defensive and even less likely to listen to you. I think it would be much more effective to plant a seed about how that kind of language can be hurtful, and then step back and let him either learn and grow, or not.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 5:05 AM on September 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

I was reminded of this post this morning in another internet place about something unrelated except for the "how come you gotta be so shitty about something" factor and I am reminded what it was like, oh those many years ago, to be a young person, not to mention a young not-straight person (because "queer" was a slur then, only just barely starting to be reclaimed by activists, and a word we would not have used), and probably the most important aspect of that whole interaction is that he wasn't talking to you, he was talking to his peers - his queer peers and his queer-friendly peers, in a shared-by-them language you don't understand.

It's almost impossible for us to imagine, in middle age, the context of being a gay (or, possibly The Kids don't strongly identify with "gay" as an identifier anymore?) young person in 2016 (who grew up with "gay" as a popular bit of slang). But I remember how overwhelmingly poorly my friends - particularly the gay men, in 1988, 90, 92 - got along socially and politically with gay men in their 40s and 50s*. They could work together on the one pressing emergency at hand, but even then they were blaming each other and both sides believed they had it worse and it was, in a lot of ways, the ancient story of Old Guard vs New.

*And now they are in their 40s and 50s, clucking their tongues at the youths with all their genders these days, and getting pissy when they get called out on their casual transphobia that used to score so many laughs.

You may have to let this go on those grounds, and maybe make peace with it by knowing that their landscape is and will change in ways you and they can't imagine, just like yours has. And, if nothing else, he's not going to change his mind about it until later, in his own time.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:24 AM on September 11, 2016 [4 favorites]

It's basically a homophobic negative diatribe, full of descriptions of gay sex all as negative things because the person in question couldn't pass a test in college. If there is any irony contained in this "meme", then I fail to see it

If this guy is in his 20s, I don't think the test diatribe Know Your Meme talks about is the "meme" he was talking about. I suspect he was talking about this instead which is what I assumed he was referring to, and which I suspect is much better known, especially if you've ever spent any time on Reddit.

Doesn't change the fact that the word "gay" is used pejoratively but it's a completely different meme.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 12:53 PM on September 11, 2016

I've been mulling over this since you posted. I think it's totally valid for you to not like using "gay"="bad." However ... this is a meme. It's a joke. It's used as an ironic over-exaggeration. Again, it's a JOKE. I don't even know the context he said it in. But most memes are gross to BE gross or vulgar. On purpose. To be funny.

I highly doubt that even as a 20-something he hasn't experienced bashing and hate speech for his sexual orientation. Just because he's young doesn't mean he's been free from discrimination and bullying.

I totally think this is done in a reclaiming and ironic way. It's the same way I love the c-word.
Now, I personally don't tweet profanity - because employers could find it. But in my life I often have HORRIBLE language - in context. I only use it when I know I'm in similar company. I often use it for humor.

But I don't see this as hate speech or anything and lecturing him that he doesn't understand the baggage - well that's downplaying his life experience too. You haven't lived his life either.

Say, "Friend, using gay to equal bad hurts me personally because it was used to hurt me in my life."

But asking him to alter his use of speech because it upsets you? On Twitter? No.
Either you're okay with disagreeing or it's enough that you don't want to follow him anymore.

Hell, I think the "Dicks out for Harambe" meme is gross. But I wouldn't unfollow someone who tweeted/used/said it unless it was part of a larger pattern of disrespect. So, is this a larger pattern of things that you find disrespectful? If so, just unfollow and move on.
posted by Crystalinne at 3:13 PM on September 11, 2016

And for example, there are things that I don't think "joke" makes it okay. And lots of people use "it was a joke" to get away with saying horrible things that aren't really jokes. For example jokes about sexual assault, etc. But I feel like with his life experience he's allowed to use this specific term and isn't meaning it in a harmful way.
posted by Crystalinne at 3:15 PM on September 11, 2016

Not all twitter spaces are the same. There can be a big difference, ranging from "the entire world is hanging on my every tweet" in the case of celebrities, to "I have a small audience of friends, and everyone following me knows we're all on the same page about this stuff". And the content can differ accordingly; you can do things experimenting with your personality/aesthetic/style in the latter space that you wouldn't dare in the former. Combine this with being young and figuring out what your identity and personality is and where particularly you fit in the gay community and around young progressives on the internet in general - in a way it's as much a signaling of being a particular kind of gay man with a certain outlook as it is a use of a meme, and I wouldn't necessarily assume it was deployed thoughtlessly. Even if it was just a tossed-off thing he didn't think about, I'd default to giving him the benefit of the doubt.
posted by naju at 4:19 PM on September 11, 2016

I've heard many terms that I consider epithets used by millenials somewhat ironically. The attitude is something like, "of course I'm not a racist/homophobe/etc. So I can use this term. All that hand wringing over terminology is an older-person thing."
posted by persona au gratin at 2:20 AM on September 12, 2016

All that hand wringing over terminology is an older-person thing.

I don't think this is true at all-- it's just a different set of words that millennials are sensitive to. "Fuck this gay earth" is something a bully in an 80s movie would say; now it's considered quaintly idiotic by many.

(There are, of course, still plenty of millennials who have maybe dealt with more severe shit in their lives who would NOT find it funny.)
posted by stoneandstar at 1:27 PM on September 12, 2016

« Older Do I have a moral obligation to report this male...   |   Help identify a movie seen on a Turkish bus... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.