Is my user name an ableist slur?
September 13, 2017 1:42 PM   Subscribe

I have used this username it many contexts across many years, but am becoming worried it may be a put-down along the lines of "derp".

I had always thought "Durhey" to imply that I (a more or less neurotypical person) had a brain fart, like "Oh I should have known better", "I forgot", "It seems so obvious now", etc.

So, is it a word regularly used to demean the developmentally disabled? I haven't heard or read it being used in that context, and nobody's ever called it out, but language often changes faster than I can keep up with, so it may not be obvious to me. I understand that pretty much any analog of "duh" can be used in this manner, but I don't want to have a username that is established as a derogatory term.

Obviously it would be kind of a hassle to change usernames now, but if it's a hurtful word, I feel I ought to.
posted by Durhey to Human Relations (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There was some discussion of various ableist slurs in this Metatalk from last year.
posted by melissasaurus at 2:00 PM on September 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure a random reader would recognize "durhey" as a synonym for "duh," but if it is... yeah, not that cool. I mean, other people might not be offended but you'll know it's kind of offensive.
posted by whitewall at 2:02 PM on September 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've never heard of it as a word at all, google tells me it's from MST 3000 and it's also listed as a last name on in one of the top results.

Of course, it's possible that people are using the word as a slur in a way that hasn't made it on to the internet yet -- but many words change meaning, and it's difficult to predict the meanings something might become colored with, including any new username you choose.

It seems a bit overblown to change your usernames due to worries of what the word might mean in the future, but if it makes you feel better there's nothing stopping you from doing it.
posted by yohko at 2:02 PM on September 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

It's good that you're thinking about this. Personally when I see your username I think, oh, it's someone's last name. If your username were HurrDurr or DerpDerp or something close to that, though, I would be very inclined to encourage you to change it.
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:04 PM on September 13, 2017 [16 favorites]

Best answer: First of all, as a sibling of a person with an ID/DD and an advocate for the ID/DD community, I appreciate this question and the fact that you're thinking about these issues. Thank you.

With that said, I was heretofore unfamiliar with the term, and upon googling it find that it can be a stand-in for either the interjection "Duh!" or the word "dummy" or "idiot". As such, while it isn't by nature a slur against them (such as the R-word), I would avoid using it for the same reason I avoid using words like "dummy" or "idiot" (or for that matter, "crazy" or "lame"). I'd rather err on the side of not possibly hurting people if it's something within my power to avoid doing so, and it sounds like you're of a similar mindset.
posted by pammeke at 2:08 PM on September 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

To this random member, "duh" would not be offensive because it would just be a joke about the poster's own lack of understanding. And, I've never heard of "durhey" (how is it even pronounced?) or "derp."
posted by JimN2TAW at 2:25 PM on September 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Since the early 90s, my username everywhere was ladygypsy, after the robot from MST3K. But a few years ago, I started becoming aware that gypsy is an offensive term, even if I swear up and down all day I'm paying tribute to a robot. So I slowly changed it almost everywhere that's visible online. It was a pain and took the better part of 5 years to catch 15 years of internet presence, but it's nice not to have that weird niggling feeling that I'm offending people.
posted by kimberussell at 2:57 PM on September 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

Didn't read as offensive to me, mainly because I didn't understand it. On hearing your explanation I would rate it as arguably offensive. Some people would be offended, others not, and it's unlikely that you'll find a consensus. Could be viewed as self-deprecating, could be viewed as ableist, both views are valid. That's my take, anyway.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:24 PM on September 13, 2017

I've never heard of it as a slur, or even a word. Good on you for checking it out.
posted by vrakatar at 4:51 PM on September 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

It scanned as a last name for me.
posted by mmascolino at 5:48 PM on September 13, 2017

Whatever else it is, it is also absolutely a real last name in the US.
posted by anastasiav at 8:30 PM on September 13, 2017

Best answer: I'd never heard of it either and I am great at words, I have the best words.

However, if it's related to "dur" then isn't that sort of the same thing as "derp"? Same family of noises to indicate stupidity. Self-deprecating and ableist are not in any way mutually exclusive, so I don't think that's the question here. I think since you asked this question, it's on your mind and you're maybe outgrowing the name even if it isn't commonly used as a slur against folks.
posted by kapers at 9:12 PM on September 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've never seen it in any context before, and I would have thought it was a last name from your username. I hope you pop back in to tell us how you're pronouncing it, because I haven't a clue.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:10 AM on September 14, 2017

I had a name here for more than a decade and unless I explained to someone they would never know it was problematic, but I knew and it really started to bug me. So I changed it.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 7:24 AM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful responses. It seems like it's not a term that's widely used as a slur, or at all for that matter, but all the same even self-deprecation is probably not how I want to roll. I'm going to go ahead and change it for anywhere that makes such things easy and use something else going forward for any new accounts. Some places it is unfortunately used as some sort of permanent identifier. Metafilter I will go ahead and update as well, since it's just 5 bucks and some time to move over favorites.

To answer your question, fiercecupcake, I would pronounce it "dur" as in "durable" and "hey" as in "Hey, how's it going?

I'm pretty sure I picked it up from MST3K, as that sounds like something I would have been looking for material from when first using it.
posted by Durhey at 11:38 AM on September 14, 2017

We used "durhey" on the playground when I was a kid, longer before the premiere of MST3K than I care to admit! We used it as a generic synonym for "duh," and not as a slur against people with disabilities.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:40 PM on September 14, 2017

This is the user formerly known as Durhey. It's good to know that it was not being used in the manner I feared, but I think I have outgrown an online identity that can be interpreted negatively, even if it is self-deprecating. Thanks again for all the answers.
posted by subocoyne at 10:51 AM on October 24, 2017

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