Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ophelia Benson, your stupidity is showing

One is curious why it is that a person who is so acutely aware of words, and seems to have some reasonably appreciable ability to craft them nicely fails so horribly to recognize her use of "sexist" language.

Let's have a look-see as an abject example.  You can try this at home, kiddies - just pick any old thread you'd like and read Ophelia's comments; it shows up all over the place. For instance, the skepchicks and that ilk warrant address as people while those who are othered are rendered as men.

Gender traitor mentioned the sexist language that drips over at Ophelia's place. Ophelia takes umbrage.
In response, Ophelia "plays" stupid.
And then she says! Now, read carefully and see if you can't find out where the problem is!


ERV said...

Ah ahm deh oonly won weeth ilk.

Justicar said...

That's some way of saying I have moose knuckle, madam!

Spence said...

It's not just that ilk. What about "those who are ottered"?

Justicar said...

I'm starting to get concerned for some of the people who post here . . .you people spend way too much time looking for pictures of animals in compromising situations.

I guess homeopathy works though - like does indeed cure like. =P

John C. Welch said...


Justicar said...

*steps slowly away from the yiffers*

ERV said...

Yeese. Pleez stah awah froom mah yiffers.

Justicar said...

*flips a coin to decide whether I'm brave enough to click that*

That's a hoot. My profile on here reads, oddly enough, "I say moo a lot. I like grapes, and you will too."

Reminds me of those California cows are happy cows commercials.

It's been a good day for the lols around these parts.


Spence said...

Plenty more cows over here. They seem happy to me, but what do I know?

(Cyriak's a b3tard too :D)

Phil Giordana said...

Sorry, I don't have any pictures of a cute animal that could be used in this context. So please accept instead this shot of a very wet beaver:

I know it's not your thing, The Latest, but it might profit to others. Let's not be egoistic!

Phil Giordana said...

Link fail. I suck!

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. You're not comparing the use of the word "twat" with the use of the word "guy", are you?


Justicar said...

I haven't had coffee yet; sorry if this isn't clearly written rude.

Ask yourself:
is calling a woman a man sexist?

Is it better, worse or equal to calling someone a twat (which isn't by definition necessarily a vaginal reference)?

If you conclude that it's better than using twat, is it acceptable to call a woman a man?

Or am I pointing out that certain people have no nuance? "guy" is used not necessarily to mean "having a penis", anymore than mankind implies that all humans are men.

See, the problem with the opposite side is a little something I like to call hypersensitivity. They're on the lookout for words, and they want to divorce them from all context.

The people whom with I'm allied on this are worried about structure, effect, and intent - the presence of the word twat no more makes one a sexist than not using the word proves one isn't a sexist. Indeed, John C. Welch wrote a fine piece that had nary an objectionable word.

Yet, if you read it as at all sincere, you'd know straight away that the person writing such a thing is advocating for the complete and total subjugation of all women as being inferior beings unworthy of living but by the happenstance mercy of a benevolent owner.

The other side is busy being apoplectic because someone uses the word bitch - in any context at all.

Anonymous said...

It's rather strange that RW saw fit to marry someone that uses the term if it upsets her so much.
Perhaps that was the reason for the current divorce?

Anonymous said...

The word "guy" when pluralized, is used to denote both men and women. As just like, you mention yourself, the word 'mankind' does not imply that all humans are men.

The word twat, is often used to denote a person with a certain type of personality, as opposed to say, female genitalia.

I agree with you that in both cases there's an intended meaning.

What I am suggesting is that the perceived meaning, regardless of intent, of both words is grossly different, to the point that making a comparison of their use is either pedantic or inane.

I know of no place on Earth where the exclamation "Hey guys!", when directed to a mixed gender group
would elicit a negative reaction. Evidently, the use of the word 'twat' can and does elicit negative reactions.

Intent is important; but also is perception. Communication is a two agent process (at least), and both agents share a responsibility. The speaker needs to be cognisant of his audience, and understand their cultural predispositions, and perception of language. The listener(s) need to understand the point of the speaker, and not inject their own preconceptions into the message.

This joint-responsibility comes into the fore when travelling abroad. One needs to be careful with expression like "fancy a fag" when travelling to the US, or "nice pants" in Britain.

I think partly this breaking into factions is based on the battlefield of whose fault it is when offence is taken to language. Camp Ophelia-PZ says it's the communicator. Camp ERV-Justicar says it's the listener. Putting aside the gross hypocrisy of PZ playing the tone troll, perhaps the truth is a little bit in the middle?


Justicar said...

Nonny, 2 above this post.

That twitter cap is awesome. Is that really her husband?

Nonny the latter:
that's only a conventional hearing of it though. The word literally means male in the same way the word twat literally means vagina. Why do they apply a different standard? Oh, right, genetic fallacy.

When I hear twat, I don't assume it means vagina. I know the word has multiple meanings, and "context clues" go a long way to helping sort which definition is being used.

PZ et al claim it has only one definition. Like, say, theory only means that creationists say it means, right?

Of course it's inane. I AM MOCKING THEM FOR THEIR STUPIDITY AND THEIR CLAIMS TO LANGUAGE PURITY AND THEIR ASSERTED SUPER-CALIBRATED SENSE OF SEXISM. Of course I'm pointing out their stupidity. The article is titled calling Ophelia stupid.

What did you expect? A reasoned treatise on something? =P

Oh, you don't know of a single place on earth where "hey guys!" would elicit a bad reaction?

Here's a handout from a school near and dear to my heart, UNC at Chapel Hill:
"Another common gendered expression, particularly in informal speech and writing, is "you guys." This expression is used to refer to groups of men, groups of women, and groups that include both men and women. Although most people mean to be inclusive when they use "you guys," this phrase wouldn't make sense if it didn't subsume women under the category "guys." To see why "you guys" is gendered male, consider that "a guy" (singular) is definitely a man, not a woman, and that most men would not feel included in the expression "you gals" or "you girls."

It affects one's grade.

Our point of view is that language is not static and that it has nuance and room for interpretation. We aren't saying we're right; we're just saying it doesn't follow the other side is right. There might just not be a "right" answer.

They say no; they're right; they own the truth; they know; we "don't get it"; and we hate women.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's her husband. Well, I think they are still married. She is still in contact with him on his Twitter stream (she tweeted him a few days after his use of the phrase 'twat' but apparently the shock of it gave her temporary amnesia and she acted as if it was nothing!)

Cereal said...

Fair enough re:UNC handout.

Eeek, is all I can say to that.

However, what I meant to say is that "guys" does not offend the people referred to in the same way "twat" does.

This may again be cultural. Her in Britain, "twat" is tossed around willy-nilly. It's all but lost its original meaning. I don't assume to know that the same hold in Minnesota, and wherever Watson happens to live.


(Oh hey, I don't have to be anonymous!)

Justicar said...

And being invited to coffee in an elevator at 4 am isn't as offensive to some people as it is to others. Hence the problem; it's not universally true, but the PZ camp act as though it must be.

The most we can say about it is that most people are ambivalent to it. A few dislike it, a few like it. Most people just consider it "well, ok - so what?"

I'm aware of how guys is used. I'm also aware of its definition. Ophelia claims that gender-language is a deal breaker for her. One "twat" and she writes one off.

Calling a group of women men is apparently immune to this analysis. She's a hypocrite. I am having fun rubbing her nose is how little she values the values she claims to value.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't seem to apply to her friends PZ or Rebecca "Fuck You Pussy" Watson.

Justicar said...

Nonny, that's awesome sauce!

Justicar said...

why I otter

Anonymous said...

"Oh, why can't a woman be more like a man?" (/Ivor Cutler).
Justicar wrote "Or am I pointing out that certain people have no nuance? "guy" is used not necessarily to mean "having a penis", anymore than mankind implies that all humans are men."
Oh-oh. Deep waters indeed.
The term "man" was originally not particularly gendered, I suspect.

Tuisto (a sort of divine, complementary yet antagonistic twin-being)->Mannus ("son" thereof)->the 3 early German tribes, being literally regarded as "sons of Man", with approximately half of them being distinguished when appropriate as womb-bearing men.
"The Old English wifman meant "female human" (werman meant "male human". Man or mann had a gender neutral meaning of "human", corresponding to Modern English "one" or "someone"."

As someone neatly observed, wassuuup? That means the XX-Crew get to keep their title and honorific, whereas us chromosome-short XY wretches have lost our appendage. Neutered! Not nice!

Really this shit is way above my pay grade. Get professional help, man, quickly!

Yet again, we're probably looking at simpletons and cranks taking deliberate, ahistorical, unlettered offence to an everyday word or action, for some sort of DSM-V Cluster B reasons.
My prescription? Goad them, m'lord. Goad them to fury! And then ignore. Repeat ad libitum, for as long as it amuses.

Anonymous said...

@ Cereal "I know of no place on Earth where the exclamation "Hey guys!", when directed to a mixed gender group
would elicit a negative reaction."

November 5th, England, after nightfall, and one is carrying a blazing torch (simply to find one's way, of course).

Anonymous said...

@lovely Cereal again: "Here in Britain, "twat" is tossed around willy-nilly."
You 'avin a giraffe, mate?
You did that on purpose, y'little minx!

Justicar said...

Remember, remember the day before the fifth of November. Now I have an Earth, Wind and Fire song running through my head. I'll go listen to the cover as sung by Nataly Dawn from Pomplamoose.

Copyleft said...

I freely concede that I consider the term "twat" rude and don't use it myself.

But the day I'm astonished and heartbroken to find rudeness on the Internet... is the day I curl up in my pillow fort with a Rainbow Brite doll and cry myself to sleep.