More Language Stuff

I was directed to this video by another blog I read, Towleroad.
I think that with the recent discussion we had about the implications of the phrase “in the ass” in conservation, I think it’s appropriate also to take the phrases that we use in other communities and their potential implications.
Video potentially NSFW due to language…

I want to draw attention to a couple things in the video. First, it’s the way in which the gay community takes feminine pejorative words (like Queen and Bitch and Cunty) and turns them into a false positive.

One the one hand, it’s interesting to note that these words are being used positively in this sense. Where it shows a strength in what you’re doing, it’s a positive. However, in fuller context of personal use and experience, it’s also meant in the sense that you’re so into yourself that nothing else in the world exists in your mind because you’re just so damn awesome.
I’m not entirely sure whether this is a reclamation of the word or not because it’s being used not by women, but by another community. They can also be used both as a tool for empowerment and for oppression within the community given context.
I, personally, value the ambiguous use of the language because it allows for a type of in-speak in the LGBT world which doesn’t necessarily translate out to the rest of mainstream society — it promotes an aspect of insider culture. I think keeping gay people as having their own culture is productive because it builds a sense of identity when there are many forces which seek to strip them of that.
From my personal experience, I’ve found that the gay community as a whole takes words which are generally negative and makes them into a positive — “queer,” “fag,” “dyke,” “fairy,” “queen,” “bitch,” “tranny” — as both a form of defiance and self-acceptance.
Gay men, in particular, can also be the type of people who will use the words in both the positive and negative aspects where, in some context being a fag is completely OK — for instance with your other queer friends and allies when you’re acting especially flamboyant — in other contexts it’s completely not ok — you’ll rarely find people say “oh yeah, I’m totally a fag” with anyone who’s not included within the community.
More pertinent to this site and its ongoing discussions, what does the co-opting of these words mean to the feminist movement? Should we, as feminists, applaud this semi-reclamation of these words into power words, or should we continue to fight some of the use of them because they still carry these negative connotations when not in the “in” crowd?
I, personally, move towards applauding the re-application of these negative words because it takes the negative power out of them, which is what we’re ultimately looking for in language.
What do all of you think?

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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